Hello and welcome to the Basement...
Sooner or later I was going to talk about Rob Liefeld... and let's face it... you either love the guy and his work... or hate him.... hell one of the guys at my job described Liefeld as a 'piece of garbage who was only allowed into the comic book industry because of family connections' and helped killed the industry in the early 90s... which to me means that Liefeld is basically the comic book industries version of Vince Russo in pro wrestling... a supposed 'fan' who got into an industry without the talent, abilitiy or realization of what made it worked and whose efforts, despite being popular for a time doing more harm than good when one really looks at the effect of his efforts....
That said, Liefeld certainly could be called 'lazy', as his tendency to put things off for months certainly had some dreadful effects, such as when Image and Valiant teamed up out of no-where for the Deathmate cross-over event... where Valiant Editor in Chief Bob Layton had to, as he put it, physically stay on top of Liefeld's work just to make sure things would come out on time... keep in mind, Liefeld worked for Image comics at the time so basically Valiant Comics were getting screwed.
So it makes one wonder how does a guy like that become a publisher.... well, this of course leads to us to the birth of Image comics where a bunch of guys left Marvel and had their studios band together, one of which was Liefeld's Extreme Studios which hand an imprint called Maximum Press, which featured titles that didn't fit the Image brand.
And some of the things kept under Maximum Press, certainly was interesting... which finally brings us around to this week's comic... Darkside #1, a one shot design to put the spot light on three characters that was being pushed as the company's stars, Avengelyne, Priest and Cybrid.
Writers: Well Liefeld is credited for the story with Robert Napton credited for the 'co-plot' and 'script'. Napton worked with Image and done a lot of work with them, working on things like Saint Angel, Prophet, Youngblood and several Battlestar Galatica books for Maximum Press and Dynamite Comics. I'm a bit familiar with his work with Dynamite and it's apparent that as being credited with the 'script', he was able to deliver a solid story within whatever guidelines Liefeld laid out.
Arists: According to the inside cover, the penciles were done by Ching Lau... Michael Change... and Mark Pararillo who also was one of the inkers with Livesay and Sean Parson, with Todd Pickens doing the colors.... Liefeld is just credited for the cover, so there is a huge saving grace for this book. Now granted having three pencilers seems a bit excessive, however because this book is trying to draw attention to three different series, having the art of three books being shown differently is a nice touch, and I can forgive the inconsistency because this is an anthology.
Cover: The cover is... well... it's pure Liefeld... with Avengelyne's body looking down right frightening and malnourished, with everything below the ribs looking awful... on the flip-side, the character of Knightmare with the face plate and cowl in the background looks rather cool... so layout wise, I see what it was trying for... but it's Liefelds own artwork on poor Avengelyne that fails it.
Plot: It's October 31st... during a blackout on the East Coast of the United States the vigilante known as Knightmare prowls the rooftops, telling the tales of Avengelyne has a nightmare of letting her guard down leading to her death at the hands of a demon, The Priest who goes after a Jackolantern wearing serial killer known as The Jackal, and Cybrid battles the ghost of the founder of the Quite Palace. Knowing that this book was intended to get readers to give them a chance, this was fine little tale, with every tale taking place the same night and given equal time to introduce the three heroes give a taste of their respective stories.
Positives: The framework of using Knightmare as the framing device for the trio of stories was really well done, and it's a clear case that while Liefeld may come up with the story, he was smart enough to let other folks handle the actual writing and artwork. It certainly was a 'lets put our best effort out there' vibe. Plus the use of the blackout and setting this on a Halloween helped enhance the story with some of the visuals and concepts seen. Since we have three different stories, having three different pencliers makes sense as each story look different from the other. Personally I think the Avenglyne story was the best
Negatives: As stated earlier cover is what fails it here with how Liefeld draws, and then is the fact it only showcases Knightmare, who was more often seen in Image comics but recently at the time appeared in an issue of Avenglyne, who is also on the cover, basically giving the impression of THe Priest and Cybrid being in this book as not being as important. Then again, at the time, I think Avenglyne had close to a six issues out at this point, Priest had two, and Cybrid's series hasn't appeared in his own series yet, so technically Avenglyne was the most 'well-known'
What's Cool To Me: On the inside cover you get the symposiums of all three main characters in this book, instantly introducing them to reader. I also like the fact that it was actually put in the book 'Thank you for giving this a try' and tells the reader where they can read more on the characters featured here.
The Recommendation: For something from the mid 90s, and with Rob Liefeld's name attached to it, this is a nice little anthology, but it is skip-able. My recommendation here is that if you're looking to get a taste of what Maximum Press was putting out at the time, this is a nice one shot to track down.
Next week... we're going to go On Q...with what we all wish we could do when Comic Book Companies kill off our favorite superheroes...
To Purchase Darkside #1 Visit: http://mycomicshop.com/search?TID=125191