Darkhold #4 (January – 1993 – Marvel)

Darkhold #4

When last we left the Darkhold Redeemers they were jumping out of the frying pan and into the fryer.  Deep in the south of Perfection, South Carolina, Sam Buchanan was just about to get eaten by demons, when he is saved by a not so nice benefactor, Sabretooth.  Fortunately the demon that Sabertooth thought he killed isn’t dead, and has a grip of friends to back him up, giving Buchanan a chance to get away and try to find his partners.

Meanwhile Aurora, the woman who unleashed The Other on this unsuspecting little town, gets to witness firsthand what her foray into black magic has caused. Demons that she let loose tear apart her only friend in the town.  While those same demons were surrounding Vicki Montesi they passed her by like she was invisible.  Sitting in the basement of the local school in shock she is found by Louise Hastings and Buchanan just in time for Sabertooth to catch up with them.  Who in spite of his mutant healing factor is just about dead.

Buchanan talks Sabertooth down, and everybody takes a second to catch their breath which is when Louise figures out where the demons are coming from.  They are the N’Garai and they come from a portal that is located in the rock quarry.  Vicki, who is invisible to the N’Garai, and Sabertooth decide to make a run for the portal to destroy it, but upon arriving find Modred there already.  He has no plans to close the portal, all he wants to do is test if humans can go through it so he can get into Chthon’s realm.  Throwing someone that is caught up in the battle against the demons into the portal he finds that he will not be able to cross over into that realm, at the cost of innocent life.  Only one person can stop them, so with a belt of grenades Aurora (the woman who used the Darkhold page in the first place) pitches herself into the portal, blowing it to smithereens.  The Darkholders save the day again, but just in time for the Dwarf to show up with another black envelope.  This time for a man named Styge.

Chris Cooper hits the plot line of Darkhold full stride in this issue.  At this point it has moved forward from episodic to ongoing, and it becomes the kind of title that, at the time, I had to pick up month to month.  I was always wondering what was going to come up next.  The art from Nick Felchle seems less chunky and bold than previous issues, but he has no problem conveying different kinds of N’Garai.  Nothing to crazy though, everything seems to be cut from a superhero with a cray head or body mold.  Overall this is a decent issue that keeps me coming back for more.

Next Time:  Ghost Rider: Fear Itself #2

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Darkhold #2 (November -1992 – Marvel)

Darkhold #2

Outside of the Spirits of Vengeance title, Darkhold was my favorite of the Midnight Sons books.  There was something about its angular art work and heavy black shading style that always appealed to me.  For some reason (which in retrospect has a lot to do with me being a kid and not knowing better) I felt that the book looked modern and hip, and to this day it looks different from pretty much any book that I have been into over the years.

So the second issue of Darkhold takes place after the Rise of the Midnight Sons series and the defeat of Lilith by the Midnight Sons.  Vicki Montesi, Sam Buchanan, and Louise Hastings are hot on the heels of another black envelope, this time tracking down an arsonist who has been given a Gamma bomb by the mysterious Other.  This time they have little help in finding the page that is on the loose by way of a hell hound whose only job is to track down the page and destroy it.

All the while they are being badgered by not only the Darkholders who seek the release of whatever evil the Darkhold has in store for the world, but also of government agents who are just trying to keep intruders away from the already compromised Gamma bomb.  The three fighters just can’t seem to catch a break, leading up to the final panels.  Modred the Mystic’s appearance to screw things up, and the evil Darkhold dwarf handing out yet another of the Darkhold’s pages to an unsuspecting victim.

While the issues of Darkhold are part of an ongoing series, it was one of the best for stand alone issues.  While the whole of the series made a great overall story, the creature feature narrative made it so you could miss an issue or two know the basics of what was going on, but get a great thriller in just on issue.  A real testament to writer Chris Cooper’s ability to put together a great book.

The art by Richard Case, who also drew for Doom Patrol and Doctor Strange, is quirky and angular, and still remains one of my all time favorite styles (to the point where I’m thinking of hunting down other things that he has done) and made Darkhold a must have every month for me when I was in middle school.  Overall Darkhold is a solid comic, and while this issue is part of the world, and character building that every title needs, it is a really solid issue with tie ins all over the place with the rest of the Marvel Universe.

Next Time:  Essential: Marvel Horror Vol. 1