Review – The Darkness #85

I spend a lot of time reading about the “heroes” of the Witchblade Universe. We regularly review Magdalena, Angelus, Witchblade and others. I think it is high time we gave Jackie Estacado, current host of The Darkness, his due. I’m never sure quite how evil he actually is. Don’t be mistaken, I’m not trying to say he would fall on what traditionally is known as the “good” side of things in pretty much any situation, he just seems to be a complicated guy. He is also intriguing from the perspective that he is a schemer. He always seems to have a greater plan to his actions.

The Darkness is one of the primal forces in the universe, paired in an eternal struggle with The Angelus, force of the light. The Darkness always has a male host, and passes from father to son at conception, taking the father’s life with it. The Witchblade is actually the spawn of The Darkness and Angelus; their “child” if you like. It is a sentient artifact I suppose and calling it a child wouldn’t technically be wrong, but I tend to think of the word as something relating to a human being, not an all powerful artifact. But I digress, let’s check out this issue.

A lot happens in this issue. The overarching quest of Jackie at this point is to destroy an ancient force known as The Sovereign. Sovereign is an ancient and immortal king once brought down by a wielder of The Darkness and has since been harassing the hosts up to its current one, Jackie. Jackie was betrayed by Sovereign and is seeking revenge by seeking out his various bodies and statues around the world and destroying them.

We begin in this issue to see Jackie’s thoughts and he wonders if he is being guided by pure revenge or by something else, maybe The Darkness within him. A deal former Russian child trafficker named Vasily Martynov goes south, as they often do when made between thieves, and Jackie finds himself falling into a trap with an old acquaintance. It isn’t clear yet what this means, but I have a feeling that Jackie may not have been using The Darkness in the way it was intended. The lure for the trap is the sudden and impossible appearance of his twin sister Capris Castiglione and the man waiting at the end of the trap is someone Jackie knows all too well.

I can see why many people consider this particular series by Top Cow to be one of the best in the Witchblade Universe. Written by Phil Hester with art by the team of Sheldon Mitchell, Joe Weems V and Arif Prianto the issue is really spectacular. It becomes a thriller by the end and despite the fact that looking back much of the issue was backstory and setup, I feel like I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Jackie is indeed a complicated man, and clearly people and organizations are able to take advantage of that. This is the first part of a new mini-arc called Alkonost so if you haven’t been reading Darkness, check out the interiors below and pick it up in stores. This seems like as good a time as any to start.