The beginning history of the darkness is as long, convoluted and often times cliché and sterile as any comic that has stayed around into the illustrious triple digit milestone. That is, until last year, when Top Cow/Image decided to hit the reset button on the continuity of their line of original creator owned characters through the diligent work of Ron Marz’s “Artifacts”, which, effectively reset the universes of The Darkness and Witchblade respectively. (DC and Marvel aren’t the only ones that fall victim to the convoluted continuity curse.)
The current writer of The Darkness, David Hine (who wrote the brilliantly original meta comic Bulletproof Coffin), has effectively weaved and orchestrated a new and refreshing genesis of life to this comic. The once tired and worn character cliché of the mob/gangster that was Jacki Estacado has, for all intents and purposes, been altered and updated, and now we have a whole new, dynamically exciting era of the darkness to contend with. And trust me, if you have never read this comic, now is the time to catch up and start, because you are missing out on a brilliantly crafted horror comic!
Yes that’s right, “The Darkness” has become a forcefully vicious horror comic now. All of the potential this comic had in the beginning is finally unleashed and able to shine through Hine's writing and ideas. Its exceedingly violent and gory, its craftily lustful and sexy, and it basks in all its vulgar splendor, but, most of all, it's fun and funny. Theres a part where one of the new darklings that have been unleashed upon Jackie makes a statement that he will "make sex with his corpse long time," which had me cracking up. It was a great moment of vulgar levity.
Oh and did I mention the best part? It’s completely filled with Lovecraftian lore in its current story arc, which has this reader completely enamored and enthralled. If it weren’t for H.P. Lovecraft, modern horror would not exist.
This issue of the series is the second part of the new story line called “The Age of Reason,” and it picks up right where the last issue left off (as most comic books tend to do.) Aram has once again become the bearer of the darkness, stealing it from the doppelganger version of Estacado that became the pure manifestation of the darkness itself. Aram was the longest running darkness bearer, and, in this issue we find out he was quite the tyrannical genocidal demigod in his time, ruthlessly and remorselessly killing possibly millions of people.
The magnificent 2-page splash in this issue of that scene where Aram describes this evil deed, which is drawn by Jeremy Haun, is beautifully crafted and executed. The sprawling scene of Aram in full darkness armor as he discusses walking on a ground made of corpses is chilling, with the imagery of the apocalyptic earth being overrun with darklings, butchering and devouring all life while the ground is littered in abandoned corpses. He does it all while looking and sounding completely badass, making Estacado look like an infantile amateur as a darkness wielder.
Eventually, Jackie talks Aram out of his darkness-induced possession through a very elegant philosophical statement about a deplorable killer having a conscience, which brings a new depth to the character of Estacado. The anti-hero reigns supreme these days, and the character of Estacado is not any different. The issue ends with the doppelganger being consumed back into Jackie and him once again assuming the mantle and full power of the darkness within himself, leading you into the next issue.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the amazing art in this comic, which, besides the story, is another reason to start buying this book. As I wrote earlier, Jeremy Haun is an amazing talent and a perfect fit for this comic. His art is so interesting to look at that you want to dissect and stare at some panels and pages longer for than you spend reading the words. Bringing Hauns' drawings to life is the vividly coherent color palette that John Rauch uses to magnify what Haun has done. Rauch uses lots of neon greens, interweaved bright pinks and purples, intertwined with dark greys and blacks and whites; everything is pleasing to the eye.
This comic is a wonderful confluence of art and storytelling on so many levels that I cant recommend this current run enough.