Image Comics celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year, and they have brought back titles in various ways, including Spawn and Youngblood. They have also created a “one-time printing in honor of the anniversaries” for The Darkness 20th Anniversary Collection, which includes nine issues and a preview. This collection includes issues one through six of The Darkness Origins, The Darkness/Superman 1 and 2, and The Darkness/Batman, and the cover page of this trade paperback brilliantly showcases the first story.
Batman stands tall as his cape flows elegantly in the wind atop the cityscape, with a giant, bright moon beaming behind him as he overlooks the city that he protects. But in the shadows and below his feet creep devilish minions with green eyes and gritting teeth. At the center of these monsters, a larger, menacing being also looks out over the city, and the stage is set for a classic tale that showcases Batman’s genius, while also giving a glimpse of another character shrouded in the dark of night. There are quite a number of contributors to these collected works, and the amazing cover page lets you know what to expect throughout all of the pages. Penciler Marc Silvestri, inker Danny Miki, and colorist Liquid! collaborate to bring two characters that dominate from dusk until dawn by making them shine on the cover. It is an image you want to see framed and placed on the wall, perhaps somewhere that doesn’t get nearly as much light, as a constant reminder of how amazing artwork can tell you how things can go bump in the night.
The Darkness is an ancient, powerful lifeforce passing from one person to the next upon death. The entity within transforms the holder. It covers him in a green and gray metallic-looking bodysuit, giving him sharp hands, a seemingly endless number of powerful limbs that can branch out as far as any shadow can reach, and chaos-creating creatures to help be equally as destructive. Yet, the power stays dormant until the host’s twenty-first birthday.
In walks Jackie Estacado. He’s the suave, playboy-mafia henchman type, and his life of committing crimes and sleeping with woman after woman is about to come to a crashing halt – at least, part of it. There is also the Brotherhood of Darkness, a league of followers designated to protect Jackie and those before him, but they’ve yet to use any predecessor long enough to rule the world. The Angelus is the reason for their failures. Angelus is another ancient force looking to do the same thing – rule the world made of her design, “until all is light and law and love.” This isn’t a typical good versus evil, light against the dark scenario. It appears both sides want the world their way, and they’ll do anything to bend everyone to their will.
Garth Ennis writes the preview and the first six chapters of the origin story. He creates a world filled with mobsters, mayhem, and mystery surrounding Jackie and his newly acquired Darkness. Ennis creates Jackie as a troubled orphan who gets taken in by his uncle, eventually turning into the uncle’s deadly right-hand man. Once he turns twenty-one, Angelus guards arrive with glowing golden bodies, black wings, and all hope of killing Jackie before he can learn exactly what he is and how to use his powers. The stories have plenty of action sequences, skimpy clothing, and one of the most devastatingly violent images you will ever see. What’s amazing is that Jackie actually describes what’s happening to someone he’s torturing before the scene takes place, and it’s incredible to see.
The Darkness: Darkness / Batman & Darkness / Superman 20th Anniversary Collection trade paperback is now available in print and digital form.