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Lately, you know a comic is in trouble - be it sales-wise or creatively - if the publisher kills off the main character.
Unfortunately, Top Cow appears to be no exception, as in this supposed "final issue" of THE DARKNESS, they're killing off Jackie Estacado and sending him to Hell.
To start with, let's be fair to Paul Jenkins and Dale Keown. Both of these guy have a pedigree in horror comics, with Jenkins having taken a stint on HELLBLAZER before his recent work on THE INCREDIBLE HULK and Keown created THE PITT, also before working on THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Both men have their fair share of fans and have earned a bit of respect in the field.
Unfortunately, this leaves us with the double-whammy of bad news: not only is Top Cow killing the Darkness, they're bringing in some heavy-hitters to do it.
My initial impression of the comic was good. I saw Jenkins's name on there and thought I'd give the book one more chance after the disappointment of the last several issues (killer cherubs with zero payoff? Please...). Jackie is still in hiding from his Uncle Frankie, a mob boss, after turning state's evidence against him, but not for long: Butcher Joyce, the large man who did body disposal duty back when Jackie was still a hitman (and still cool) shows up and delivers a tape.
On the tape, Uncle Frankie has Jackie's former girlfriend Jenny held hostage. Now, here's where my first beef came up: in the last couple issues, it was revealed she was engaged to Ripclaw, another bad-ass superhero property of Top Cow's. How a bunch of mobsters could get her away from Ripclaw is beyond me...
But I was willing to forgive it. See, Frankie blows her brains out. I got excited. I was like "Hell yeah, some excitement at last!"
Suck-errrrr. See, enter the completely contrived excuse to get Jackie into Hell. He wants to go save his girlfriend. If he would have gone down in a firefight during a mad thirst for vengeance or something, I might have been happy. Nope. He meets Uncle Frankie in a warehouse, which he then blows up with all of them inside it.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "What about the spoilers, Mike! Jeez!" Nope. See, this storyline of drek continues in the major Top Cow events UNIVERSE and INFERNO: HELLBOUND.
If you check it out, let me know how it goes. I won't be buying it.
Wake up Top Cow! You've got great shit going on with Straczynski's stuff! Pick up the slack! Don't throw contrived storylines at us! Why did you turn Jackie into a good guy in the first place? He was great as a bad-ass hitman! You've got older characters collecting dust while you shovel crap like his twin sister and this Ripclaw/Jenny dung at us!
I give THE DARKNESS a generous one rabid fanboy.
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