The Darkness and Witchblade are two books and concepts that I’ve always enjoyed. That being said I haven’t been enjoying the slow moving events in the Top Cow universe. Thankfully Phil Hester’s Darkness run has remained detached from the events in Artifacts and has been one of the best runs on the series to date. In fact its the best since the first forty issues. Much like with Witchblade I tend to jump on and off this series a lot, but with it approaching issue 100 I wanted to get back in touch with the book. Jackie has… gone through a lot as the current Darkness barer. He’s died, come back to life and now he’s traveled to the dimension that is home to the Darkness power itself by essentially killing himself again. He arrives in a land with lush forests and rocky terrain only to be greeted by Sonatine, the man he’s been trying to destroy for most of Hester's run on the series. Sonatine acts as a guide for him in the world and explains that on this second “level” of the world there is a war brewing between the green and the black. He also explains that everyone there is either a previous Darkness holder or was killed by the Darkness, which explains a little about how Sonatine arrived there.
Soon Jackie finds him fighting against the “green team” and making quick work of them. He’s approached by a Lord for the “black team” about joining them. Sonatine begins speaking on Jackie’s behalf, but the Lord cuts him off and has Sonatine feed his giant worm stead. He cuts off his own arm to feed the beast which is apparently the way they do things around there. From there Sonatine tells Jackie what he needs to do next to basically take control of the heart of the Darkness, but it’s unclear whether or not this is all part of Sonatine’s master plan or not.
The story was very good and even though it spent a lot of time explaining this new world that Jackie finds himself in, it was understandable due to the circumstances of the issue. We’re essentially relearning the world of the Darkness so extra explanation is needed. Hester does a good job of keeping it clean and simple. He doesn’t over explain anything and sticks to just Sonatine explaining everything rather than having everyone Jackie meets give their two cents on it. Hester really has left his mark on the Darkness and in a very good way. The art is very good and really I don’t have much to say about it. It’s exactly the quality you’d expect from a series that’s approaching 100 issues and artist Romano Molenaar is the right choice to get them there.
This is part two of “Total Darkness” which I’m guess will take the series up to 100. That said this is where I’ve started with the book completely missing the previous issue and frankly it sounds like it was mostly fighting and brawling. I’d recommend starting on this book if you want to be on board for the landmark issue. If you’ve stopped reading the series because you felt it was stale then I encourage you to give it another shot. Hester is doing some great things with this character that will change the course of the book for years to come.
Writer: Phil Hester Artist: Romano Molenaar Publisher: Top Cow/Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 1/11/12