Written by Phil Hester
Art by Michael Broussard
Collects The Darkness #1-6
The Darkness is one of the main series from Top Cow, something of a companion series to Witchblade as it exists in the same universe. It is about Jackie Estacado, an ex-mobster and the wielder of the Darkness, an ancient evil force and a major player in the Witchblade cosmology (or so Wikipedia tells me).
The story is about Estacado's attempts to rule a small, fictitious South American country called Sierra Munoz where he overthrew the previous dictator and supports himself with a drug he created using the Darkness, called Nightfall. He is aided by a scientist named Kirchner who, after studying the Darkness, teaches Estacado how to use it to do things like create water or drugs, among other things. Over the course of the story, Estacado slowly loses control over the country due to a rebellion, which is aided by private military contractor from the US. At the same time Estacado is betrayed by Kirchner and Elle, a woman Estacado created using the Darkness. The story ends after Estacado kills the Darkness incarnate that was born from Elle.
Writer Phil Hester, the artist of Kevin Smith's Green Arrow run, does a surprisingly good job with the material. There is a lot about the Darkness concept that can either be absurd (the bad kind) or just down right stupid but Hester never has that problem. He does a good job of setting up what the Darkness can do and expands on it to do some interesting things like the aforementioned drug production and creating a synthetic human. The story works fine as well. It is paced well and Hester does manage to throw in some twists along the way. It is nothing special but it is still enjoyable and well written. It is a little gory at parts but nothing too bad, at least to me.
The trade is an introductory story and Hester does a much better job than Ron Marz did on his first Witchblade arc. Hester gets most of it away at the beginning of the story and spends most the story telling a strong if not groundbreaking tale where as Marz spent most of his first arc introducing the concept but had a lackluster story to go with it. The only downside of Hester's quick intro is that he does it mostly through exposition but it is mostly in the beginning of the story. Over exposition is generally a problem throughout the book though. Now, a lot of exposition doesn't have to be a problem if its good and Hester's isn't bad or anything, there is just too much of it. Another problem is that the lettering for Estacado's inner dialog is a little too small for me so reading it is a problem at times. Nothing fatal, just annoying. Hester also makes some good use of flashbacks at times but he does not use too many and it does not become something that he uses too much. Overall, Hester has a solid story that, while not without problems, is enjoyable in its own ways.
The art by Broussard is okay. Its basically a clone of Marc Silvestri so it has some of the flare of his art but lacks the charms that it has. That's probably the worse thing about his art, its not as good as Silvestri's. Of course, that is dependent on whether or not you like Silvestri's style or not. It also has the problem, if you consider it one, of everyone looks too good and too perfect. The art is suitable, non-offensive, gets the job done but has no virtue outside of being utilitarian.
Verdict - Check It. A solid story that does a good job introducing readers to one of Top Cow's bigger properties while managing to tell a enjoyable tale.
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