I had to call into work today…

The Darkness #75 Cover by Dale Keown
The Darkness #75 Cover by Dale Keown

…because The Darkness #75 from Top Cow/Image comics kicked my @$$.

This book is the absolute PERFECT comic book.  I have less than zero negative things to say about it.

What’s that you say?  What’s the Darkness?  For shame, my friend.  For shame.

The Darkness tells the tale of Jackie Estacado, mob hitman and all-around bastard.  Well, turns out that Jackie is destined to turn into The Darkness, pretty much the antithesis of good, on his 21st birthday.  When it happens, it’s messy.  So now Jackie’s been possessed by the darkest being in the universe, should be pretty gravy, right?  Not so much.

His powers only actually work IN the dark.  Jackie can’t have sex.  If he has sex, he dies.  Pretty tough for a guy who used to sleep with a different woman every night.  Jackie, despite being a jerk, is also not EVIL.  Well, the Darkness is.  It’s pretty much evil incarnate, so it sways him towards the dark side, which he tried hard to fight.  In addition, there is a counterpoint to the darkness, known as the Angelus, that pretty much wants him dead.

More after the jump.

So you probably thinking…how can I jump on to The Darkness at issue #75?  I have no clue what’s happened in the last 74 issues?  Well, funny thing about that.  The Darkness #75 is, in actually issue #11 of the new series.  Confusing, right?  Well, not really.  It happens all the time in comic land – they love to start over with issue #1 a lot.  Hell, Batman had a #0 issue a couple of years ago.  So you really only have 10 issues to catch up on, and Top Cow makes it pretty darn easy for you to do it.  Issues #1-6 are collected in a volume called Accursed that only costs $4.99.  Keep in mind, each issue cost $2.99.  This is less than a dollar for each issue.  Buy it from the official site!

Even if you don’t know much about The Darkness, #75 is a pretty great read which you can go into knowing very little about the character.  It’s one of those “future” tales, the kind that may or may not ever come to pass (and, in our lifetime, probably never will), like in Batman #666 where his son took over — love that issue.

So it’s the future.  The Darkness/Jackie has, essentially, taken over the world.  He’s blocked out the sun so that it’s dark all the time.  A rogue group of religious fanatics is seeking out a prophesized boy who can lead them to the tomb of The Witchblade, the one power strong enough to defeat the Darkness.  As it turns out, though, Jackie is always one step ahead of his enemies, and all prophecies don’t turn out exactly as foretold.

The Darkness #75 could fit in with the current storyline going on the series, or it could really be taken as a stand alone tale, since no mention is made of the larger storyline going on in the title.  See, this is a big issue because it’s pretty rare that an independent title gets this high in numbers (compared to corporate characters like Spidey), so this issue is actually an oversized issue, featuring art by many of the people who have worked on The Darkness in the past.

The story, written by Phil Hester, is fantastic.  If it weren’t for the…well, without spoiling too much…finality of the ending, I’d say this would make a GREAT start to a new series.  As it stands though, I’m sad we didn’t spend more time in this world – it’s fascinating, and I always love to see when the hero goes fully bad and takes over the world.

The art is absolutely breathtaking – there are 10 artists on this issue and, though the changes don’t flow seemlessly, they’re not intended to.  I could have easily loved this issue had just one of ANY of these artists done the entire book.  However, getting a sample of each artist is impressive – each is wholly unique and brings something different to the book.  There isn’t a weak link in the bunch.  This is an absolutely gorgeous book, from the cover (I got the one by Stephan Sejic), to the very final page.

If there’s one thing I didn’t like about The Darkness #75, it’s that there’s no letters page.  Instead, we get a 4 page ad for the Wanted video game.  Cool and all, but one of my favorite things about Top cow is that they still have letters pages.

Pick up The Darkness #75 if you get a chance – if you like your comics dark, or even if you don’t like comics, I bet you’ll find something entertaining in the book.  And, with Top Cow’s promise to keep prices manageable in 2009 (they won’t raise their prices above $2.99 except for oversized issues such as this), including the collection of the opening run of this series for a measly five bucks, it’s a great alternative to the crossover meltdown we’re seeing from the big comic companies.

Paul's Awesomeness Score - 10!Paul Awesomeness Score: 10 out of 10

2 comments on “I had to call into work today…Add yours →

  1. Hey Joe,

    I absolutely agree with you. Even the current volume, #3, has seen decent delays – so much so that, while the book was originally intended to have one artist through 2010, it now has two artists who alternate on story arcs. That being said, though, Top Cow’s commitment to quality, affordability, and timeliness has impressed me in the last year. You may want to give them another try – you might be surprised.

    It’s sad to say, but with significant delays from all companies, including the big two (Wonder Woman and Ultimate Hulk v. Wolverine spring to mind), it’s almost become a sad state of the comic industry that we actually have a little bit of a surprise when a book actually ships every four weeks.

    I could go on about late books, but your comments have definitely given me fodder for a future post. Thanks for the great feedback!

  2. The Darkness is also one of those books that epitomizes Image’s largest failing. The thing has been around since I was in high school but it’s only one issue 75. It’s release schedule made it hard to stay interested in when picked up the rag in its single digits. Sure it might have been good art with a compelling story, but its failure to maintain a regular release schedule (even if it had been every OTHER month) meant that I to work to remember what the hell was happening to understand the latest issue. I don’t want to have to work to like a comic.

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