Overview

The Darkness: Four Horsemen #1

Review

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The Darkness: Four Horsemen #1

Credits

  • Words: David Hine
  • Art: Jeff Wamester
  • Colors: Felix Serrano
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Aug 24, 2010

I’ll be totally honest here. I can’t remember the last time I picked up an issue of The Darkness. The premise, while mildly interesting, seemed like more of the same old, same old from Top Cow. Whenever I considered the Darkness for longer than a few seconds (which happened once about two years ago), I inevitably pictured someone in the Top Cow offices saying, “Hey, Witchblade is going like gangbusters! Let’s do a spin-off but instead of a female cop, we’ll make the hero a male mobster…”

Facetious? Okay, maybe. Cynical? You bet. I’ve been reading comics virtually my entire life. On occasion I feel the need to exercise my inherent fanboy’s right to bitter, jaded diatribes and I suspect, perhaps without justification, that I’m not far off in the above scenario.

Be that as it may, this most recent foray into the violent, stylish world of Jackie Estecado was a surprisingly enjoyable romp. Maybe it’s because I share writer David Hine’s morbid fascination with bikers but more likely it has something to do with a solid script that doesn’t take itself too seriously, serving up a singular, sinister brand of fun in gobs of brains and blood.

Everything Hine touches lately is of an exceptionally high quality – from the brilliantly bizarre Bulletproof Coffin with Shaky Kane to his work on licensed properties like FVZA for Radical, Hine seems incapable of producing shoddy or even rushed work.

In The Darkness: Four Horsemen, Hine takes us back a few of years to just after Jackie assumed the mantle of his crime family. In an effort to help solidify his leadership, Jackie takes a job from a rival crime boss, promising the old school gangster retribution on a bike gang responsible for the murder of his brothers thirty-five years before.

Hine’s script crackles with sharp dialogue and a brisk pace. His characters are realized in broad strokes but remain believable within the borders of the Darkness’ supernatural world. If you’re looking for the humor and sophistication of The Sopranos, then rent a DVD. With the exception of Estecado, Hine’s criminals are mere caricatures and they need not be anything more for the purposes of this story. This isn’t a character study of an arch-criminal, examining the twisted motivations of someone wedded to a life of crime and corruption. It’s a simple tale of revenge played out against the supernatural kidnapping of an entire town.

Jeff Wamester’s line art services the tone of the story fairly well but I couldn’t help but feel like I was looking at characters designed for a video game or Saturday cartoon. I couldn’t help but think of the Dreadnoks from G.I. Joe. Similar in style to Joe Madureira, Wamester’s pencils lack the robustness of the Battle Chasers creator’s work. Thankfully, colorist Felix Serrano lends the rendering some much-needed weight and solidity. Still, the style seemed at odds to the decidedly adult script.

All in all, The Darkness: Four Horsemen was a fun read, driven by the strength of Hine’s lean, mean script. Can I recommend the book, though? Unfortunately, the answer is no. As much as I love Hine’s work here, the mediocre, cartoony art was enough of a distraction that this latest visit to the world of The Darkness is just another brief stopover in a long line of brief stopovers.

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