Thursday, 1 March 2012

New Beginnings - The Darkness #100

Jackie Estacado – mobster, murderer, monster. Lover, father, protector. Holder of the Darkness.

In 1996, Top Cow, lead by Marc Silvestri, created The Darkness (or at least it appeared in an issue of Witchblade) and since then there has been an on and off affair with the readers spanning 16 years. This has included several crossovers and has even crossed into both major brands with Batman and The Hulk (for example). There have also been some incredible names on the writing list too. Silvestri to begin with but also Paul Jenkins and Scott Lobdell, even Joe Benitez’s pencils have been called to action so with only 100 issues the depth or staff who have been on the title is phenomenal.

Recently there has also been an entire 13 issue multi-character production called Artifacts which has included 12 other special individuals who together could have brought about the end of the world, or simply rewrite it. The ultimate end of that arc brought forward the potential to restart their world. This was taken, leading us to this issue.

Issue #100 is quite literally about Jackie fighting his inner demons as his control of the Darkness gives him the ability to call forth minions from another dimension which are only bound by his imagination for horror. After having struggled with it since he was 21, Jackie is going to the source of it all with a mind to end it all.

Phil Hester has written this issue and has stuck closely to what I have come to know and love about the Darkness. It’s a supernatural story which has imagination to it. There isn’t the obvious ideals about it and it still now presents fresh storylines. Even so this issue still feels like a closing setting up for something new again. In light of how Artifacts ended this isn’t unexpected either. When you also look at the issue and see that there is a preview of the #101 issue (with new writers and artists) this is driven home more.

A trio of artists have worked on the issue too. Molenaar, Oliveira and Luis which is something different for me. I’ve not really come across a comic with so many artists yet so few pages for that specific issue. Seems a bit of an overload. The one bad thing though is that due to such a strong foundation, it doesn’t feel that there has been any imagination in their work as it follows the same pattern it always has. In another respect though they have stayed perfectly true to what has always been and fans will appreciate that.

As a fan I think this was a good issue, but for someone looking for a landmark issue to pick up, this is an example of a title tying up loose ends - a lot of the meaning would have been lost on the uninitiated. However, the really exciting thing is all of the extra information it gave. For those who are really interested there are interviews and information pieces about the crew behind the story as well as the next steps. Issue #101 is going to be the true New Beginning and if anything I’ve become excited by both the forthcoming issues and the whole back catalogue.

Personally, I’m looking forward to what is to come, and at also looking into trying to collect the compendiums as The Darkness is a fantastic title overall. Get ready for a new era but definitely find the old foundations it was all built upon!

Matt Puddy is looking forward to getting his hands on the new Darkness video game too!

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