Friday, September 22, 2006

The Darkness #1

The Darkness #1 (vol. 2), May 2006, Image Comics
writer: Paul Jenkins
penciller: Dale Keown
colorist: Matt Milla
letterers: Dream Design's Robin Spehar & Dennis Heisler

Halloween is over a month away, but I've already seen more ghosts and goblins to last a lifetime. See, I'm an avid department store shopper, from Big Lots to Wal-Mart to Target. I visit each of those stores at least once a week, and since the end of August, the Halloween paraphernalia has flooded the marketplace like the steam from a witch's bubbling cauldron. It's everywhere.

I suppose that's why I didn't mind the abhorrent imagery of The Darkness. I don't mean the issue was illustrated poorly. In fact, this is my first close encounter of the Keown kind since PITT, and I must say, I didn't think the guy could get any better, but he did. He's abandoned the trappings of that mid-'90s fanfare, like the superfluous muscle veins or crosshatched under brow. The Darkness is has a fluidity to it, from the form of its characters to the layout of the page, and since the credits don't include an inker, I can only assume what we see is a high resolution scan of Keown's original pencils. Very impressive.

No, the abhorrent imagery is in the writing. This first issue is actually of the title's second volume, so Jenkins spends a considerable amount of page space catching us up on past events. Since I've never read The Darkness before, I was grateful for the recap, but I dare say that Jenkins wasted too much space with unnecessary narrative, especially considering his flagrant use of the hero's first person dialect. More dialogue would've offered more insight from more characters, like the mob stooges that plague the plot with their tireless cliches of hubris and vengeance. Not that the lead character is any less shallow, but at least he's honest. Yes, The Darkness is about a man's inner demons, but inasmuch as they literally take form, some can only conquered from the inside.

The Darkness strikes me as an excellent Halloween read, and when October actually arrives, I hope to unearth more macabre comic book tales, especially some Charlton titles from the '50s and '60s. Anything pre-Comics Code would be a treat, as well. In the meantime, titles like this will have to do. And they do. I'm glad I read The Darkness with the lights on.

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