Darkhold: Black Letter

darkholdAnd lo, we make our way through yet another chapter of the Rise of the Midnight Sons. Many people have commented, following my last review of Morbius the Living Vampire #1, that perhaps the reason I could not follow the editorially-mandated swill of the Ghost Rider and John Blaze scenes was because I was reading the story out of order: for those in that camp, I offer this rebuttal: I don’t care.

The first issue of a comic, much like the first novel of a book series or pilot episode of a tv series, should exist primarily to introduce readers to the characters and plot. Anything that distracts from this should be cut.

With that in mind, let’s dive right in to Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins #1.

For the sake of mentioning it, this is book four of the Rise of the Midnight Sons subplot, and takes place directly after Morbius #1. You’d never know that from reading the text though. There is nothing linking one part of this crossover to the next, save the presence of Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze.

Darkhold follows the exploits of an anti-team of regular people called The Redeemers, a rag-tag group that sets out to track down and contain the evil, indestructible pages of the Darkhold, which come from the power of the demon lord Chthon. The series ran for 16 issues, from October 1992 to January 1994, and was one of the staples of my youth and one of the reasons that I so love gothic horror as an adult. Because of my affinity for it, I would like to address some of the things I liked.

The series was remarkably bold for a mainstream superhero publisher, not just at the time but even for today. I’ve often longed to see this series adapted for television, where I think it could fill a gap long left by the X-Files. And while I’m aware that this series is in part derivative of Mulder and Scully, it differs enough to be enjoyable of it’s own merit.

It was also innovative in it’s portrayal of the central lesbian character of Victoria Montesi. While mid-nineties American politics never allowed to state blatantly that she was homosexual, it was obvious and has since been confirmed. Actually I applaud this approach. While not closeted, she’s clearly been at home with her sexuality for some time and does not make a big deal of it. I kind of prefer this. People who make a big deals of their sexuality (be they gay, straight, or anywhere in between) bug me. If you can’t think of anything better to talk about than who you’re screwing, you’re an idiot in my books.

Other characters are portrayed well as well, Louise Hastings, Agent Buchannan… All these are great characters, close enough to established archetypes that we are familiar with them, but far enough that they are new, fresh, and interesting.

So, with all that going for it, I must love this story… Right?

Wrong. While I know the series continues on to bear wonderful fruit, this issue is horrible. The writing caters far too much to the Ghost Rider plot, to the point that I’m not even sure what the main story is supposed to be. The art (while wonderful on the cover) is among the worst I’ve ever seen.

I highly recommend this series as a whole, but this issue is a monstrosity. Again, I blame the editorially mandated aspect of the story, and can only surmise that this author was not as adept at weaving those elements into the script. As a result, the important parts if the narrative are rushed and uneven.

Darkhold #1Darkhold #1 by Christian Cooper

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I have to judge the individual issue.

View all my reviews

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