As celebratory anniversary issues go, "The Darkness" #100 is a letdown, plain and simple. With a related video game recently hitting shelves, Image celebrating its twentieth year publishing and this issue hitting a publishing milestone, I was expecting quite a bit more than I received in this issue.
Phil Hester concludes his story of Jackie Estacado’s attempt at severing his connection to the Darkness in the twenty-page lead story of this issue. Hester’s story of Jackie battling against the Darkness for control once and for all is exactly the type of foundation an issue of this magnitude deserves. Unfortunately, the parts assembled on top of that foundation are rather lacking. Hester wrote a brutal battle failing to ever cast doubt into my mind as Jackie struggles for his life against an overblown, knobby, gooey baby.
Therein lies one of the major problems with this issue. There are a total of a dozen creators responsible for the visuals of the main story. Twelve creators including the letterer and two colorists are onboard to handle twenty pages of story. The worst part is the story isn’t especially rich in detail or design. There’s a funky little bit where we see the "real" world as though we’re on the other side of a mirror but other than that and the goo baby, none of the visuals really pop. The art is murky, muddy and completely forgettable. Certainly, there is nothing in the story that stuck in my head following a read of this issue -- at least, not from the main story.
The really impressive parts of this hundredth issue were the extras following the lead story. The preview tale of Jackie’s next chapter was a nice change of pace. There are also a host of extras usually included in celebratory issues like the first one hundred covers, a timeline of the Darkness and a rundown of the creators associated with "The Darkness." Taken by themselves, each of these "extras" are fun little perks making the cost of this comic more bearable but this issue needed more comic book story to truly celebrate the legend of the Darkness and share the financial burden.
Phil Hester’s writing in and of itself was not enough to save this issue of "The Darkness" which suffered from a lack of direction in overall purpose and shallow in visual spectacle. There were more than six variant covers for this comic to the twenty pages of lead story. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, "You can’t judge a book by its cover." Never has that been truer.