The Darkness continues to be one of the most interesting books at Top Cow. From it's very inception it has always stood out as a special title. After a couple of relaunches the series returned to its original numbering as if to say you don't need a "one" on the cover to sell issues or to bring in new readers. In fact that's the strength of this title is that you can pick it up at anytime and catch up.
This issue begins the storyline "Alkonost". After being jerked around one too many times, Jackie has set out to get revenge on the Sovereign. Jackie's hired a crew to find and destroy the Sovereign's host bodies (statues that he can move his spirit into). After several difficult missions, including on that lead the team to Fort Knox, they decide to take an easy mission and just buy one of the statues. One of the crew arranges for them to meet with a retired human trafficker that spends his days buying stolen art.
Even though the mission is suppose to be easy, Jackie is troubled by a nagging feeling and memories of his twin sister. Around every turn and bend Jackie seems to see her and even though he knows it's not possible he always follows his heart not his head and pursues her. The purchase of the statue seems to be complete as the crew heads back to the airport, that is until Jackie decides his business isn't finished yet. He knows he's walking into a trap, but again he's all heart.
Probably the strongest characteristic trait of Jackie is his ability to intelligently recognize what he's seeing as fiction, but then to fall prey to human emotions and not follow what his brain knows to be true. With other characters this can be annoying and grow tiresome, but with Jackie you can't help but root for him each and every time. The concept of the Darkness is just brilliant. An anti-hero that the reader feels sympathy for. There's no mistake that Jackie is a bad guy, yet everything about him says he's good.
Phil Hester (Green Hornet) has a strong narrative and vision for the title. he has a unique way of referring to previous story lines of the series that doesn't alienate the reader if they haven't read them before. In fact new readers should find themselves intrigued enough to look into picking up previous volumes. Hester nails Jackie as a character and has added a lot of depth to him since talking over writing duties on the title.
This is Sheldon Mitchell's first issue as the artist for the title. Mitchell's previous work on Stealth has landed him a regular gig which he's definitely earned. Mitchell's pencils fit in with the world of the Darkness, being overly detailed and gritty. He's a decent visual storyteller, but the true test will be how he handles the darklings and Jackie using his powers to their fullest. So far though, he's a good talent and welcomed addition to the franchise.
Darkness fans will have no issues with this book and are probably looking forward to the new storyline. New readers should be able to pick up the series with this story-arc without missing a beat. Again, this is what makes it one of Top Cow's strongest titles, it's accessibility.
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