Rating: 3/5 – Magical suspense with a taste of horror
It has been discussed that modern comic publishers are continually renumbering titles as a gimmick to increase sales. Some of us have said that it is unnecessary, especially in light of all the resources only a keyboard away, anyone can find out whatever they need to get up to speed on any title. It was time to test out this theory by grabbing a seasoned comic book and see how it fares. The Darkness is not an entirely unknown property to me but I have not read it, in any detail, and certainly nothing in recent years. I did not know about the current status and was unfamiliar with Hope (the character, not the concept).
Issue 113 starts with a recap page laying out not only the immediate preceding action, but the status quo of the world. For purposes of this review, we have daughter of Jackie Estacado, Hope, following a giant rabbit into a magical forest looking for the source of an evil attacking Erehwon. She is named Hope, not unlike the mutant Hope from the Marvel Universe. Unsure which came first, but neither company is going to win awards for subtly. Jackie’s doppelganger attempts to follow but is told that he is barred and Hope must pass the test on her own or suffer an unfortunate end.
The be-suited, eternally late white rabbit with his oversized pocket watch, makes the Alice in Wonderland connection quite clear. There is also a grotesque Queen in red with an unhealthy level of interest in decapitation, what is less clear to me is the purpose of using this Alice in Wonderland motif. It has been too long since I read the original but I missed any greater meaning than the interesting imagery. Hope meets the representatives of the Darkness, but she is charmed by them into thinking that they are the aggrieved party, and if she invites them into her world, they will establish peace and harmony. She returns to her world but does not reveal those details to the doppelganger and her mother.
Writer David Hine, whom I am most familiar with from Bulletproof Coffin, is adept at building tension and I felt that I was immediately immersed in the story. There is a bit of a horror feel to the book, Jeremy Haun (art) and John Rauch (colors) do an admirable job especially separating the Alice in Wonderland designs so they are evocative of the more popular representations but still original. There is a two page text piece at the end that does flesh out the Alice motif more but I have mixed feelings on the inclusions of text pieces in comics. They can be powerful, but in some ways it feels like a cheat to the medium.
This issue does feel like we are placed within an existing story arc but I felt like I was able to jump right in. The issue did contain enough story with sufficient twists and turns to feel it was worth it but it just did not resonate enough with me personally to hook me with for an ongoing commitment. There is violence and some nudity but not always to titillate, particularly the Red Queen (shudder). I like some horror but it is a pretty narrow window. If you like your magic with a scary vibe then give this comic a shot.
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