Darkness: Level 2/ pp. 23/ $2.99/published by www.topcow.com/written by Paul Jenkins and David Wohl/art by Tyler Kirkham
This is more like it.
“This” refers to the current incarnation of the comic book series Darkness, a horror title from Top Cow Productions. The preceding issues did not receive kudos in an earlier Suspended Animation review.
“It” refers to the standards that should be met for a comic book to be entertaining. And this Darkness is more entertaining. Oceans of blood and gore have been replaced by ponds. Violence is still an element, and a necessary one, but there is no profanity or graphic sex in this issue, and the seeds of arather intriguing plot are planted.
Jackie Estacado, the protagonist who commands demons from Hell, has seemingly traveled back into time; this story is set in WWI. Or is it? The Germans look more like walking maggots. Ah, the “or is it” adds a nice spice to the story line. Anticipation is a powerful emotion in any story, and not all is as it seems in this issue.
The dialog is crisp and believable, the story travels at a breakneck pace, and all is well as far as storytelling technique is concerned. However, some readers may want a bit more characterization.
The art is not spectacular, but it isn’t chopped liver either, and is much enhanced by excellent coloring. It is minimalistic is style, and the artist seems more comfortable depicting walking maggots than anatomically correct human beings, but it works, and that is all that really matters.
Is this horror on the level of Lovecraft or Poe? Nah. But it is fun, and that is the most important standard to meet of all. Darkness: Level 2 is recommended for teenaged and older readers who enjoy adventure laced with horror.
Review by Michael Vance
Order Vance's history of the American Comics Group in Alter Ego #s 61 and 62 at www.twomorrows.com.
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