REVIEW: A Great, Spooky Start in The Darkhold Alpha #1
In the first issue of a new crossover event, The Darkhold Alpha #1 by Steve Orlando, Cian Tormey, Jesus Aburtov, and Clayton Cowles, with a main cover and Scarlet Witch variant cover (pictured below) by Greg Smallwood, we get the beginning of a strange new story that stars one of my very favorite characters: Wanda Maximoff!
The Darkhold Alpha #1
In this story, we get to see a bunch of continuity – from across the comic multiverse – pay off in some very big ways! Things like Wanda’s personal history with the demonic Chthon and her past entanglements with Doctor Victor von Doom (in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, for example) both become important plot points in this story.
And of course, a big part of this story is the heroes who Wanda recruits as the Darkhold Defenders… and who subsequently become the Darkhold Defiled! Hey, anyone else remember the Darkhold Redeemers? Given that Orlando hints at the history (or should I say her-story) of Marvel’s magical lore and its tomes throughout The Darkhold Alpha #1, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cult from Midnight Sons makes a return!
Speaking of heroes, I think that a good selection was chosen to headline the five tie-in comics, with one tie-in comic for each of the Darkhold Defenders.
While heroes like Spider-Man and Iron Man might be expected, the Wasp and Black Bolt are welcome (and surprising) additions.
Each of these heroes has been assigned a perfect role among the ranks of the five defenders, with Spider-Man assigned the role of “The Fool” (because of his wise-cracking ways, and of course, he has a thing-or-two to say about that) and Wasp assigned the role of “The Artist” (because of her experience as a designer), to name two.
And while it sort of makes sense to include Blade the Vampire Hunter (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) in a book like this… I’m really glad he’s here! Since Blade was part of the Midnight Sons event, which included a 12-issue Darkhold miniseries, maybe my Darkhold Redeemers theory isn’t too far fetched after all?
The Artist’s Way
In addition to the essential narrative work, this issue also shows off some incredible artwork! Between the Darkhold Defiled heroes and the horrible hell dimension that Chthon calls home, there’s a lot to look at in this issue!
In particular, I enjoyed the two-page spread that showed us what the five heroes who get recruited by Wanda were up to until they got summoned to the messy affair that’s playing out here.
Not to mention the incredible one-page splash page of Wanda Maximoff… not dead, but in a power pose, declaring: “ONLY THE SCARLET WITCH CAN!” It’s about Darkhold-time that Scarlet Witch headed a team of heroes without the help of someone else (at this juncture, Doom is more worried about his ego than actually helping anyone, but luckily his ex-wife is present to put him in his place).
A Long Time Coming
While The Darkhold Alpha #1 was initially announced back in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a long delay for the book. Fortunately, this issue is well worth the wait, and I strongly recommend heading out to your local comic shop to pick up a copy as soon as possible!