Straight Shooter

The Darkness
Vol. 3 #1

Words by Phil Hester
Art by Michael
Broussard, Ryan Winn, and Matt Milla
$2.99, 32 pages
(Top Cow)

If comics have taught us anything, it’s that bargaining with/being possessed by demonic entities results in total awesomeness. Examples: Ghost Rider, Spawn, Hellboy, and KISS. The Darkness (aka Jackie Estacado), with his evil-given power to create sentient life, is no exception to this sweet-ass rule, as his possession has taken him from heading the Mafia to an enviable generalissimo gig on the island paradise Sierra Muñoz.

As is usually the case for Faustian superheroes, the Darkness has a curse as well — Jackie will be killed the moment his offspring is conceived, so using all that newfound power to attract girls is pointless, as this issue makes clear in the first few pages. But there’s more to being a dictator than girls, apparently. Estacado might’ve seized the island for its “beautiful sunsets” (Obviousness Alert: The Darkness’s powers only work in the, well, darkness), but he stayed for the chance to set up a smuggling operation to export the designer drug, Nightfall (see “Obviousness Alert” above), for some reason or another, probably.

We don’t ever really find much out in this issue other than to stay tuned for the next exciting chapters, but the take on the series is worth keeping an eye on if you’re into the whole demonic comic scene. After a few pages of action, we get lots of backstory, but nothing much to go on, and the issue-ending cliffhanger alone won’t have you camped out in front of the comics shop waiting for issue two. The new series is definitely a good buy for fans of the character, but this issue takes too long to explain too little. The story is slow to develop but promising and will probably be better when it’s finally collected with coming issues as a trade paperback. Readers of the series are used to having the forces of evil being a little more tempting.

Hybrid Bastards
#1 (of 3)

Words by Tom Pinchuk
Art by Kate Glasheen
$3.50, 28 pages
(Archaia Studios)

If you ever wondered what would happen if Zeus, god of lightning, fucked your Oldsmobile, the Hybrid Bastards is confirmation that you are not alone in the world — though you’ve probably been off your medication for quite some time. The setup for Hybrid Bastards is simple enough — Zeus’s wife, Hera, becomes tired of his constant screwing around and gets sweet, surrealistic revenge by casting a spell to make her husband spend a night of hot sweaty passion with various inanimate objects — which then give birth to a bunch of bastard god/object hybrids — but the story comes off badly in the execution, almost to the point of seeming kind of absurd. Kate Glasheen’s unique artwork goes a long way toward making the series worth a shot, but the writing takes the story absolutely nowhere in the most annoyingly bizarre way possible. The exposition-heavy dialogue tells us nothing in particular, and the actual plot is only vaguely hinted at. It’s like Waiting for Godot with a sentient apple-man demi-god, or Exhibit “A” in the case against writing comics on LSD.

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Bat Lash #1 (of 6)
Words by Peter Brandvold and Segio Aragones
Art by John Severin, Pat Brosseau and Steve Buccellato
$2.99, 24 pages

The western comic and 70-year-old Mad magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones are dusted off for pretty much no good reason in this issue. A standard oat-opera plotline is only slightly updated for modern audiences with a little more sex and an increase in brutality. Other than some cleavage and a skinned knee, nothing’s changed since your prepubescent grandpa bought these kinda books for a nickel with the earnings from his after-school job at the coal mine. If you didn’t live through the Great Depression, you probably won’t be interested, but give DC credit for trying something different. Any fans of old-style westerns who get comic books delivered to their assisted living facilities will no doubt soil themselves, and some will do it from the excitement of hearing about this comic. Everybody else can just mosey on by.

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