The forces of light and darkness operate hand-in-hand, but in the Top Cow universe the dual elements shape the fate of the world. The soul-collecting hell overlord known as the Sovereign doesn’t present the only menace to gangster and powerful Darkness host Jackie Estacado’s well-being. In the prologue of The Darkness #82, the resurgence of an unbridled power threatens Jackie’s very survival with a prophecy centuries in the making. Legend tells of a weapon composed of a once mighty star and forged by the Angelus long ago, and its modern day discovery implies an unpleasant death for the current human embodiment of the Angelus’ long-lived enemy, the Darkness. Recent events wrapped around the rebirth and strength of the Angelus only increase the likelihood that danger of the cherub kind is on the warpath.
The issue itself progresses quite rapidly as Jackie and his trickster crew (privy to Estacado’s extremely generous funding) invade the territories bearing the Sovereign’s many statuesque incarnations. According to their database, they’ve successfully destroyed roughly sixty percent of their foe’s resources, but reason warns that counter measures are surely being taken. If new statues aren’t being crafted in the midst of their offensive strategies, then the Sovereign has other cunning ploys at his disposal. For the time being, however, the group’s next attack centers on the theoretically impregnable Fort Knox, Kentucky. Their sights aren’t set on the stronghold’s gold affluence, but rather on one of the Sovereign’s stone representations on loan from its museum residence in Abadan, Iran. Meticulously planned, the undertaking should prove a “piece of cake,” but no one, including Jackie, bargained for a illuminatingly responsive target. Its demolition will take more than the standard methods, but when their scheming rallies unwanted attention, bullets won’t stop Jackie in his tracks—but a few armored tanks might.
Phil Hester constantly re-establishes his right to carve out the future of The Darkness, and the comic book is certainly in good hands from issue to issue. The writer tucks new plot threads into various crannies for later exploration; although the focus remains with the hopeful defeat of the Sovereign, Hester incorporates relevant in-universe events into the mix and digresses with the return of an unfriendly opponent. There are a few stumbles here and there—an oddly tasteless line and a cliche or two muck up Hester’s otherwise unproblematic delivery. As usual, the writer makes The Darkness a highly enjoyable story unafraid to reinvent itself, and Michael Broussard turns a potential visual disaster into attractive shadow play.