The Darkness – Darkchylde: Kingdom Pain
Darkchylde's mind is under attack by an alien parasite. Fortunately, a sliver of her psyche breaks off in the form of a smart mouth little girl named Miss Happy. She sends out a distress call to Sara Pezzini, the Witchblade. But the signal gets crossed and Jackie Estacado, the Darkness ends up helping instead.
Jackie is lured down the proverbial rabbit hole by Miss Happy, in the guise of Jackie's dead lover. He knows she's dead, but he also knows he would follow her to hell if it would bring her back. After landing at the bottom of the hole, Jackie is first introduced to Miss Happy and her mangled robot. Jackie and Miss happy exchange Shakespearean dialog, spitting lines back and forth with each other. Jackie sees a lost little girl and wants to help her. Miss Happy on the other hand needs to test the water before accepting Jackie's help. After trust has been established, Jackie is taken to Darkchylde's blood frozen body/mind. Jackie and the Darkness make quick work of the ice and Darkchylde is re-awoken.
The interesting part of this book is that everything is happening in Darkchylde's mind. The Alien parasite that's attempting to attack her resides in Darkchylde's comatose roommate at the hospital: Madison. Madison is able to create anything she wants and if she can take over Darkchylde's mind she can wake up in control of her body. The Darkness and Darkchylde team up to defeat Madison's creations. Madison herself is defeated by the Witchblade. The lines become uncrossed just in time for Sara to steal the glory. Darkchylde knows that if Madison isn't stopped in the real world the attacks on her mind will continue. Jackie gives her the best advice an assassin can, kill her and move on with her life. Darkchylde awakens in her body and must decide whether to follow his advice.
Right off the bat this story has three things going for it: The dialog, the narrative and the art. Randy Queen has spent most of his career writing and drawing Darkchylde, so it goes without saying that he knows the character. What some may find shocking is how well he nails the character of Jackie. Miss Happy and Jackie have almost three full pages of dialog going back and forth at each other all of it is interesting. At times the two sound a little too similar, but that could be the exact thing Queen was going for.
Half of the story is narrated by Jackie. He gives deep personal thoughts as he deals with the situation at hand. He really feels for Miss Happy and wants to help her. In fact he's almost saddened when he awakens Darkchylde and finds Miss Happy has vanished. The second half of the story is of course narrated by Darkchylde. She's been trapped in her own mind for who knows how long and the one friend she made there is trying to kill her. She's lost in two unfamiliar worlds and only an assassin is giving her advice
The art is simply beautiful and really what people think of when they read Top Cow books. Queen's pencils are extremely detailed making him perfect to draw all three characters. He puts his own mark on the Darkness character by giving him new armor. Darkchylde is drawn as a walking contradiction. She's sexy and yet lacks any real confidence; Queen captures this with her facial expression throughout the story.
This issue does a lot more than pair two franchises in a one-shot. It actually sets out to tell a meaningful story in both universes. It adds character to Jackie while breathing new life into Darkchylde. Top Cow could really have a hit if it figured out how to add Darkchylde to the Artifacts Universe.
Overall Score - 8.6/10
I never played the Darkness video game but I hear it was really good... making me wish I had played it. Follow Dustin on Twitter and ask him anything on FormSpring.