The Darkness #23


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The Darkness #23


  • Words: Mike Wohl
  • Art: Martin Montiel
  • Inks: Jay Leisten
  • Colors: Sonya Oback
  • Story Title: All in the Family, Part 2
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Sep 28, 2005

The Darkness’ oldest and most deadly nemesis has returned. But the hunter becomes the hunted when she finds the Magdalena instead.

What man wouldn’t love having two hot women after him? Jackie Estacado for one. Both The Angelus, once Lauren, the ex-wife of dead mafia don Frankie Franchetti, and The Magdalena have come to destroy Jackie’s alter-ego, The Darkness. The Angelus, the living embodiment of vengeance, has come on the wedding anniversary of Lauren and Frankie. The Magdalena’s motives are more pure—her kind has fought The Darkness before in the name of The Church, but none have succeeded. As The Magadalena and The Angelus square off, The Darkness appears, and it’s not at all clear just who’s caught in the middle of the ensuing three-way fight. What is clear is that The Angelus doesn’t have enough to take on both of her adversaries. She retreats to fight another night just as The Magdalena gets The Darkness right where she wants him.

The Darkness is one of the few comics I’ve been reading less for the characters and more for the mood, setting, and the hybridization of two very different sorts of "underworlds"—one of organized crime and one of the supernatural. However, lately, having read the various crossover issues and an excellent one-and-done issue #21 written with punch and skill by colorist Brian Buccellato, I’m becoming more intrigued by the title character. What makes him tick still isn’t exactly clear to me, but two character aspects are coming more and more into focus. In an interesting take on the dual-nature of secret identities, Jackie Estacado is a hitman recently turned mafia boss—not exactly a mild-mannered creature of light—whose alter-ego is a Satan-spawned entity who gets the job done by being darker than dark. As such, The Darkness is neither hero nor villain, but inhabits that morally ambiguous terrain in between where it is always night. Second, everyone has a beef with this guy, and one sure way to evoke sympathy for a main character is to set him against the whole world.

David Wohl’s script plays this aspect very well. The Magdalena, The Angelus, Lauren Franchetti’s daughter Appollonia, a rival mafia crew—none of them mean Jackie Estacado nor the Darkness any good will at all. Consequently, Estacado has a bizarre but automatic virtue (to use the word very loosely) just for standing up to them all and never backing down, though there always seems to be a knife at his back.

Wohl’s other strength in this issue is his third-person narration and his dialogue. As a relatively new reader of a series that’s been around for a while, I read this issue looking for clues in the dialogue and found that the exposition meshed very well with natural speech and characterization. Similarly, the stylized and literary narrative captions set the mood and inform the reader without being overwritten or intrusive.

Had the next to the last page been the conclusion, I would have written that The Darkness #23’s ending was amazing for the tense cliffhanger note it struck. Unfortunately, that’s page 21. Page 22 is merely a conversation between The Angelus and Appollonia that simply makes their motives more clear than they have been in the previous pages. Not bad, and an interesting plot beat actually, but since it’s not a real surprise, in terms of technique it deflates the effect of page 21 and could have been better incorporated a few pages before.

Right in line with the Top Cow house style, the art is darkly sleek and sexually charged. Martin Martiel makes a tit-tacular sex-bomb out of The Angelus. If all angels looked like her then every man on the planet would find religion real quick. Still, Martiel makes The Magadalena even sexier by using shade and darkness to accentuate her curves and features instead of using lines. It’s also a great way of contrasting the two women during the lengthy fight sequences, which are also excellently choreographed. Montiel’s lines are tight and precise, he captures emotions well, and he always frames his shots with storytelling as his highest priority.

The Darkness may not be the best comic on the stands, but issue #23 is an entertaining read for those who like stories set in places were good and evil don’t apply very easily, if at all.

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