The Darkness Anniversary Collection (Review)

The Darkness Anniversary Collection
Collection:
The Darkness Preview & #1 – 6, The Darkness/Batman, The Darkness/Superman #1 -2 © 1996, 1999, 2005
Publisher: Top Cow Productions © 2017
Writers: Garth Ennis, Scott Lobdell, Jeph Loeb, Ron Marz
Pencilers: Marc Silvestri, David Finch, Clarence Lansang, Tyler Kirkham
Inkers: Joe Weems, Danny Miki, Victor Llamas, Batt, Livesay, Steve Firchow, Peter Steigerwald
Colorists: Liquid!, John Starr
Design for this Edition: Vincent Valentine
Letterers: Richard Starkings, Wes Abbot, Rob Spehar, Dennis Heisler
Editors for this Edition: Elena Salcedo & Matt Hawkins
Original Series Editors: David Wohl, Dennis O’Neil, Dan Raspler, Scott Tucker, Mike Carlin, Phil Smith
Cover Art for this Edition: Marc Silvestri, Danny Miki, Liquid!
Batman created by: Bob Kane & Bill Finger
Superman created by: Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

thedarknessbatmansuperman_20thanniversary-1

That is right, is it the 25th anniversary of the creation of Garth Ennis, Marc Silvestri and David Wohl – The Darkness. The Darkness being a Top Cow production truly fits with the Image partner who also brought us Spawn around this same time period. The Darkness follows mafia hitman Jackie who is endowed with dark powers such as demon control on his 21st birthday and goes to use those powers in both his job and against new enemies who hunt him down for his curse.

This book is a good collection as it brings in the first original six issues of the first run, along with a collaborative effort with Batman back from 1999 in a one-shot. Then we have two-issue collaboration with Superman. By the end of the book you have all of the covers from talented Marc Silvestri and more. I would argue this book is hardly something for aficionados of this character at all. There is already a Volume 1 trade paperback for the first six issues. Then, there were other DC collaborations piled up together in another trade. No variants, no bonus material, not even a foreword of introduction by someone in the comic industry like one of the creators. Therefore, die-hards can completely skip out on this to be honest, unless you’re just a completionist be my guest. Then I may ask how does the book work for new readers?

What’s odd is how the book begins with the Batman one-shot, which as a Batman fan I have no issue with at all. Loeb & Lobdell do a great job of pulling these characters together into one universe. You can totally buy that The Batman and Darkness could occupy the same space. It serves as a decent introduction to the character for Batman fans as someone who is not your typical black and white villain. On a conceptual basis, it sounds like perfect versus match. Meanwhile the artwork is tremendously great. It has the muscle-boundedness of the 90’s of Silvestri and Finch, mixed with some Goth as well. The Superman story feels a bit odd and out of place. Yes, Superman has dealt with things from other worlds and gangsters before, but this felt forced. In the end, it is hard to know where Jackie’s motivations and loyalties really lie. Going back to my main point is how odd the book does not start with the origin of The Darkness. Instead, you get it after the DC team-ups. This is a poor move for a new and dedicated reader who wants to get know this character well. Yet, a great move to hook in die-hard DC fans. The cover does a good job of that too and bravo to them for that!

The book is something of a time capsule. Given the connection of Image and Top Cow and the time of these comics I could not help but think of Spawn. Spawn the army man/killer turned superhero with spikes and chains and lived in an alleyway, it was EXTREME! The idea of a hitman for the mob with great marksmanship, drives fast cars, like fast, easy women and has demon control is hardly a stretch from Spawn either. I am not saying one is a rip-off, but both spew that over-masculine, testosterone intoxication of the extreme 90’s. It’s an interesting premise alone with our main character being a hitman for the mob and the art never gets tired to look at. Nonetheless, there is a hollowness to it I sense. It reads as a 90’s action film with some kind of substance with a hitman who wants something more in life but Ennis does not know what it is or cannot give it to us. Therefore, in the meantime check out these fine girls and demons ripping people apart. There is no room for heroes, just bad people who have to make tough decisions and keep shunning away from doing anything decent. It is truly hard to empathize with. Adding to this problem, given history is we know Garth Ennis is capable of more.

For die-hard fans, your shelf does not need this. If you’re a new reader it is up to personal taste. The Batman one-shot is terrific, Superman’s was OK but there’s better for him. Again, the premise is interesting and serves as a great time machine back to the world, vibe and taste of 90’s comic books. The art is always a blast and leaves you entertained with plenty of cool shots, awesome demons and other excessive things. It is junk food, great at first but quickly becomes dull.
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