Review of The Darkhold

The Darkhold by Steve Orlando

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I skimmed the teaser, I was optimistic. After my reaction to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, I was ready to see a take on the Darkhold’s place in the MCU. Finally, a team promised to present the volume in all of its gruesome horror. And the initial prelude offered the take on evil personified that I anticipated. (Maybe a touch heavy-handed and overdramatic, but we’re talking the evilest character, so I figured I could let it pass)

Unfortunately, the horrific madness didn’t last.

These are champions, heroes, descending to their vilest, basest instincts and desires. It was an opportunity to find the chinks in the armor and twist the story. And while some of the writers – Mr. North, Ms. Bellaire, Mr. Paknadel – rose to the challenge, the others turned in a lackluster performance. Mad? Twisted? Outside of their usual character? Eh, not so much. Granted, I have zero knowledge of the histories of these characters (aside from what I’ve gleaned from movies and television), but I didn’t find anything worthy of a shiver or a grimace. Instead, it was nothing more than a casual shrug at a wasted effort.

Even the grand finale (why do these epic magical battles always fall flat?) felt wanting. The tendency of these comics to introduce the dreaded deus ex machine is beyond irritating. In a world composed of superheroes possessing abilities that defy description, it’s a copout to deliver a savior from the aether. Such a weak literary device cheapens the entire tale, stealing away even Scarlet Witch’s triumph.

When offered the chance to play with the shadow sides of characters, unearthing the darkest motivations of their minds and actions, I expect more. It’s a shame that so much of the writing failed to deliver on that promise.

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