"The Darkness: Rebirth - Volume 1" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Top Cow Productions
Originally published as The Darkness #101 - #105
Written by David Hine
Illustrated by Jeremy Haun
2012, 146 Pages
Trade Paperback released on August 29th, 2012
Jackie Estacado has remade the world. He was placed in a position akin to God in Revelations. He put almost everything back in its proper place, but he would be stupid if he didn't take advantage of the situation and improve on a few things. Jackie had the best of intentions when he brought his dead lover Jenny Romano back to life and made it so she -- instead of the Witchblade bearer Sara Pezzini --gave birth to his daughter Hope. Now Jackie rules a crime family and he's done very well for himself, but he's still has the Darkness swirling inside of him and nothing can be that simple.
Out of the three core Top Cow titles, The Darkness has benefited the most from the Rebirth line that effectively rebooted the entire universe. Jackie is placed in a unique position. He has everything he's ever wanted, but that damn idiom "Be careful what you wish for" comes in to mess up his day. While he has Jenny back, she's starting to lose it. She lashes out at Jackie, forcing him to purge himself of the Darkness once and for all. This results in the creation of the Doppelganger, a being that looks just like Jackie but is the personification of the vile monster that once lurked inside him.
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This is perhaps one of the scariest villains to hit this comic. For the first time, the Darkness is free, unbound by a human host and as a result, no longer stuck within the parameters of a conscience. It starts out normal enough, claiming to be in complete servitude to Jackie, but it's clear from the start that there's a long con at work here. It's biding its time until a move can be made, but it might come at the cost of Jackie's entire world. It comes between Jackie and Jenny in more ways than one and it has a strange connection to Hope. There's a moment in this comic – and you'll know it when you reach it – that you just stop and say, "Damn. Did that just happen? That's fucked up."
I read these issues when they came out, but re-reading them now puts a lot of things in perspective. When you go back, it looks like everything from the start of issue #101 has been orchestrated by the Darkness. This makes sense as Jackie used it to help recreate the world. Using the artifact that's known for evil to do something good doesn't really work. While Jackie was trying to do something that would make this a better place, he may have inadvertently set a dark and powerful force free.
Jeremy Haun turns in some top notch artwork throughout this volume. His characters look good, but where things really excel is when the Darkness is set loose. The death and destruction it breeds is insane and Haun captures it all. Early on there's a full-page spread of Jackie retaliating against two henchmen that broke into his office. It's like an oil tanker from Hell exploded all over, releasing demons, monsters, and all kinds of tendrils to rip these men apart.
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The Doppelganger has a slimy quality to it at all times. I felt like I had to wash my hands after I read a page that it was on. There is true evil behind that sly smirk. If you thought Jackie had a talent when it came to killing people, the Doppelganger has something to show you. It makes death an art form, but it's like one of those abstract pieces with a lot of splatter. Things get messy.
By far the creepiest images in The Darkness: Rebirth are the kittens. Now, how could I say that kittens are creepy? Aren't they supposed to be adorable? You're right, but remember, this is Jackie Estacado's house in a world that he remade with the power of the Darkness. These things literally eat and claw their way out of their mother's womb. They're like shriveled little gargoyles and so unsettling.
This first arc of The Darkness: Rebirth is called "The Crack in Everything." That's a very apt title. I've previously compared reading this comic to looking at a pane of glass that's about to break. With each chapter, another crack is formed. It's only a matter of time before it shatters and when that happens, Jackie's entire world is going to fall to pieces. Until then he's struggling to keep everything together including his family, his business, and his control over the Darkness. Each of them is starting to fall from his grasp.