The conclusion to the long-awaited Darkhold crossover, Darkhold: Omega #1, has finally arrived… and the ultimate outcome of this semi-anthology event does not disappoint! We’ll be touching on the crossover and reviewing the conclusive issue with spoilers, so please be advised.
Meanwhile, for brief spoiler-free reviews of Black Widow #13 and Inferno #4, scroll on down to the Rapid Rundown!
Darkhold: Omega #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Cian Tormey
Inkers: Roberto Poggi with Marc Deering & Walden Wong
Color Artist: Jesus Aburtov
Letters & Production: Clayton Cowles
When we first heard about the Darkhold crossover that concludes with Darkhold: Omega #1, we were living in another world. I’m not really kidding: here’s The Beat’s write-up of the series announcement from March 10th, 2020. One ongoing pandemic later, in January 2022, the final installment of the seven-issue semi-anthology series has finally arrived… and for once, we get a conclusion to a crossover event that actually does the Scarlet Witch justice!
As you may know if you’ve been reading my Rapid Rundown reviews of some of the individual issues in the Darkhold crossover event, the structure of this crossover is something of a semi-anthology: the first and last issues (Alpha & Omega – this is a Marvel event, after all) serve as a two-part frame, while the five issues in the middle each have their own individual continuities and creative teams.
The way it all fits together is this: in order to enter the Dark Dimension and face Chthon, the five heroes must read (just a little) from the Darkhold in order to corrupt themselves… tempering their sanity so they might survive! In essence, the familiar Avengers read the five stories from the Darkhold themselves, and we’re invited along.
For this reason, the “corrupted” versions of the characters in Omega are not simply continuations of the incarnations of the characters introduced in their respective stories; rather, they are the “corrupted” characters who result from the reading of the five stories… allowing this crossover to come off as something of a semi-anthology, or maybe an episode of Treehouse of Horror (but with fewer jokes).
Another notable element of Darkhold: Omega #1 is the re-introduction of Omega the Unknown. First introduced in Omega the Unknown (1978) #1 by Steve Gerber, Mary Skrenes, Jim Mooney, John Costanza, and Petra Goldberg, the character’s connection to the narrative lies in the relationship the once-corrupted super heroes now have with the stories they read from the pages of the Darkhold: there is a clandestine relationship between apparently average twelve-year-old James-Michael and the silent, extraterrestrial super hero Omega, as evidenced by the fact that James-Michael keeps remembering moments from Omega’s story. As stated by the copy for the third issue of Omega the Unknown, the ten issue series was “A tale of two personas!” It’s also something like what you might expect if Philip K. Dick had written a Marvel Comics story.
…and speaking of two personas, Omega was later resurrected for another ten issue series, this one an unsettling 2007 ten-issue retelling of the original run by Jonathan Lethem, Karl Rusnak, Farel Dalrymple, and Paul Hornschemeier… which in some ways was not all that different from the nightmarish parallel timelines read by the super heroes who were corrupted over the course of the Darkhold crossover.
But the main event in this issue is, of course, the role played by the Scarlet Witch.
In this issue, Wanda is depicted as the wholly powerful character that she is. It’s no secret that many men are uncomfortable with the abilities of the Scarlet Witch, even when they are equivalent to the powers wielded by male characters (to which they conveniently have no objection). Often, this involves depicting Wanda as villainous for using her abilities, as evil for making a mistake (again, generally permitted for male characters), or as somehow unworthy if she’s anything less than absolutely perfect all the time (not great for narrative tension, but then, there’s a reason nobody says sexism is good for story).
The issue plays with the concept by having both the Scarlet Witch and Doctor Doom arrive to stand against Chthon, and having it seem as though Wanda is simply relying on Victor in order to sustain the assault… only to reveal that Wanda has had the upper hand all along.
This isn’t wish fulfillment: for one thing, Doom still only respects Wanda enough to send a Doombot to meet her for her final sendoff. But at least this version of the Scarlet Witch gets to call him on his BS before heading off to tend to her own personal affairs.
Meanwhile, the conclusion to the conflict over Chthon’s book is handled in a manner that’s suitable for a storyline that takes the Darkhold for its title, with Wanda subsuming the tome into herself… thereby gaining dominion over the stories held inside.
In Curse of the Man-Thing, Orlando demonstrated that he knows how to handle Marvel magic systems in the right way, and that’s evident in the method the Scarlet Witch uses to return the world to a stable situation at the end of the story.
Not only does this make good narrative sense, but it also thematically accomplishes something very meaningful. For too long, other people have been the one’s writing Wanda’s story… but now, having made her self synonymous with the Darkhold, she’s the one controlling the narrative.
For once, “The Scarlet Witch will return” reads more like a promise than a threat.
Final verdict: BUY.
- Inferno #4
- Writer Jonathan Hickman’s farewell to the X-books concludes with a bang, as many of the plotlines sowed during HoX/PoX are finally reaped. There have certainly been some satisfying moments throughout Inferno, plus some new and interesting twists (the ascendance of Doug Ramsey has been an unexpected delight), and the final issue of the series continues that trend as Hickman, Valerio Schiti, Stefano Caselli, David Curiel, and Joe Sabino deliver a nice blend of high-energy action and intense character drama, which leaves Krakoa’s Quiet Council in an interesting place. This series wasn’t as status quo-shattering as it may have been hyped to be, but it was still a pretty good time. —JG
- Black Widow #13
- This series somehow continues to surprise me with every issue. This issue, drawn beautifully by Rafael Pimentel, details Natasha’s first meeting with the Living Blade, the man who appeared in the last issue and who brought out an emotion we don’t normally see in Natasha: fear. With this issue, we know she has a right to be scared. Pimentel and Kelly Thompson frame this issue as almost one continuous fight scene, with Pimentel even throwing in some visual cues to Elena Casagrande’s style such as the double-page spread fight scenes that show a fight happening from different positions in the room. It’s no-holds-barred, it’s gorgeous, and it’s another winning issue of this pretty stellar series. —HW
Next week: Marvel’s Voices: Heritage (2022) #1 arrives, plus the ever-lovin’ Thing #3!