After revealing her powers, Hope defends her mother from Balakov. The doppelgänger targets Jackie’s men and it would seem that something is very, very wrong with Jenny since Jackie changed the universe to bring her back from the dead.
As a Darkness fan, I loved the major shift that Artifacts brought to the Top Cow Universe. Jackie’s childhood friend and sweetheart, Jenny, was brought back to life in Jackie’s new world and his daughter that he had with Sara Pezzini – the Witchblade bearer – was now the daughter of his union with Jenny. Keeping up? As a fan, this was a huge deal. The return of Jenny rocked the foundations of Jackie’s existence and at the point where we join him in issue #109, he has shunned the Darkness in order to live a happy life with her.
Unfortunately, this had to have repercussions and these are what Jackie has to face in the “Breaking Dark” story arc we are reading now. Jackie’s doppelgänger can now face the sunlight and has told Hope he no longer needs Jackie. This is brought to the the forefront in this issue when the doppelgänger begins to corrupt Jackie’s men with the power of The Darkness. It’s the kind of thing we all should have expected. The Darkness corrupts and destroys much of what it touches. It is the antithesis of The Angelus and things had to go wrong eventually. With such huge changes brought to Jackie’s world around a year ago, there was no way he could keep living it up without a care in the world. This plot is his comeuppance.
While the doppelgänger is off causing chaos, Jackie has to contend with Balakov’s attempt to get to Jenny, as well as Hope’s rather alarming transformation. There has always been something pretty freaky about Hope, Jackie and Jenny’s child – or, in the original world, Jackie and Sara’s child. In the previous few issues, Hope has been undergoing serious changes. She’s been getting all green-eyed and glowy, as well as having Darkling-esque cats following her around. Now, in issue #109, we finally see what she has become. It’s like mini-Darkness. And mini-freaky. Jeremy Haun has some real fun with the art of Darkness-infested-Hope and there are some gorgeous panels and splash pages that let us see clearly what’s become of her. Some nice touches, indeed.
Now, a few issues I have. The opening pages – after the “Previously on The Darkness” prologue – are of a naked lady parading around in her open dressing gown. Nudity I don’t have an issue with, but when Jackie’s doppelgänger appears to speak with her and her other half, she makes no attempt to cover up. Instead, we get lots of gratuitously positioned panels in order to get a bit more boob in. Pages like this are what make people think all us comic book geeks are single perverts who stare at superhero porn all day. Cover up a little, please. And on a little aside: how does her dressing gown fall so perfectly with every movement so that her nipples are always exposed? Really, it’s no wonder she’s so pert and pointy, she’s probably freezing. And who cooks dinner in just an open dressing gown and slinky knickers?
Something else that bothers me is how little action Jackie gets compared to the doppelgänger. There is a point where Aram says: “You’re in no fit state to deal with Balakov. Take care of your wife.” And he just walks off. Just walks off! Jackie Estacado walks away! Alright, there is the fact that he was trying to protect Jenny, but still. I wish Jackie had been a little more proactive in this issue.
Feminist/fangirl rants aside, I’ve really enjoyed the “Breaking Dark” arc of The Darkness. Something I’ve particularly enjoyed about these issues is the little short story by the book’s writer, David Hine, found at the end of each comic. My favourite was at the end of #106, called “Broken English”, which featured Jenny’s fractured mind as the real world and Jackie’s version of the real world began to collide. It was a wonderful, two page prose piece that totally hit home. This is not how things were meant to be for Jenny and Jackie and she knows it. Short stories are my forte and it was a pleasant surprise to find it there. This month takes a look at one of Jackie Estacado’s employees, Wilson, as he realises that the doppelgänger is not who he appears. It’s a magic little bit of writing that makes nods to early work in The Darkness and a must-read for fans.
All in all, The Darkness #109 is an important chapter in the “Breaking Dark” story. It sees Jackie having to pay for his earlier choices and it ends on a really sweet cliffhanger. Hine’s short story is a real winner and worth collecting the previous three issues in order to read them all together. A very good comic and another success in Top Cow’s continuing Rebirth. Can’t wait for the conclusion in The Darkness #110.