In the vein of ‘Spawn’ and other supernatural anti-heroes, ‘The Darkness’ chronicles  the adventures of Jackie Estacado, a one-time mafia enforcer, turned crime boss, who before he was even born, was possessed by the powers of Darkness, which he has used to various ends.  In this landmark 100th issue, Estacado confronts the source of his powers, a malignant creature of darkness, in an effort to free himself from its control.  The creature plays mind games with him, telling him that the being itself once tried to do exactly what Jackie is doing, to kill the being controlling it, only to grow into a powerful force of evil itself.  It’s an epic struggle as Jackie utilizes a sword carved from the heart of a star to try and destroy the creature and free himself.

This issue obviously caps 100 issues worth of Jackie’s dark journey.  In addition, this extra-large issue contains a preview of the next issue, which marks a new direction for the character, interviews with his new writer and illustrator, artwork from a deviantART contest, a cover gallery, a timeline and a creator hall of fame, showcasing some of the most notable talent to work on this series in the past.

Reaching 100 issues is quite a milestone, so this book is clearly doing something right.  There was a summary page on the inside cover that should help any new readers (such as myself) to at least comprehend the goings-on in this issue.  I have never read ‘The Darkness’ before, but I grasped this issue easily enough.  Of course there were a few panels here and there that I didn’t fully grasp and appearances by characters that I was unfamiliar with.  But over all, it was pretty easy to digest.  I think partially, that’s due to the similarity that this book has to other existing titles like ‘Spawn’ or ‘Son of Satan’ or any other dark supernatural book like this.  That’s not necessarily a criticism– all super hero comics have certain elements in common.  The mafia angle is something different, sort of ‘The Sopranos’ meets ‘Spawn.’

The artwork is handled by three pencillers, Romano Molenaar, Leandro Oliveira and Jose Luis.  Whoever drew the opening sequence with the man in the white robe, was my favorite of the three.  There’s nothing bad about the rest, but I find it a little amusing that Image seems so frozen-in-time with its art.  This looks very Marc Silvestri-Cyber Force-mid 90s.  It’s not bad, it’s just not my cup of tea.  There is a really innovative device used when Jackie steps between dimensions, so kudos there.

All in all, this issue wasn’t enough to reel me in, but if you like darker books, with anti-heroes or mafia crime drama, this might be more appealing to you.  At any rate, the number of extras was impressive and I’m sure long-time readers will appreciate those.

Verdict: Borrow

Written by Phil Hester
Art by Romano Molenaar, Leandro Oliveira and Jose Luis
Primary Cover by Jeremy Haun & John Rauch