1983: Darklon the Mystic

The Complete Pacific Comics Re-Reading Blog Series presents:

Darklon the Mystic

by Jim Starlin

Darklon the Mystic (1983) #1

This is a collection of Jim Starlin comics from old Warren magazines, newly coloured.

Editor David Scroggy does the introduction in… er… verse? Sort of.

I wonder how this was reproduced — was it shot from the original artwork (some of the lines are very sharp) or from a printed Warren book (some bits are very washed-out indeed)? In any case, the colouring and the reduction in size, as usual in these Warren reprints, makes things rather blurry.

Darklon had left her unattended… and… he had never been there? Check. Anyway, the villains fridge his girlfriend and then he takes gruesome revenge.

You can tell that he’s heartbroken.

Confusingly enough, one of the chapters is called The Price, which is the same as the Dreadstar graphic novel he did later…

Nice six-pack. I mean, eight-pack. I mean… ten-pack? In any case, the artwork is pretty accomplished for being this early in Starlin’s career. Very cosmic.

Lots of nice little storytelling and layout choices, and the storyline is pretty coherent, which is unusual for these things.

Is that Garfield?

Oh, did I say the storyline was coherent? Perhaps not, really: We get one ending, and then we get a fourth wall thing, and then the story continues for one final chapter:

Where things go pomo.

But Darklon breaks free of the panels? Hm. I dunno.

Well, I think it’s a pretty entertaining comic. It’s very much of its time, but has these clever touches and zips along with far greater speed than you’d expect. There isn’t much turgid exposition over these 48 pages… perhaps just, like, 10%, which is much less than the 75% industry norm.

But what did the critics think?

Dale Luciano writes in The Comics Journal #88, page 54

It’s such a bleak,
pervasively gloomy trading-one’s-soul-in-
return-for-power fantasy that I began
wondering at Starlin’s ability to sustain his
own involvement with the material.


At base, Darklon’s
plight in the story involves the acting out
of a guilt—it’s a Hamlet complex gone
slightly askew—and the bizarre, final con-
flict between father and son in Darklon
somehow represents the resolution of an
inner torment triggered by the fundamen-
tally opposing natures of the warrior
Darkhold and the aesthete Darklon.
This may be the most psychologically
subterranean origin story ever published in
a comic book.

Here’s a modern take:


Oh, yeah. That’s the stuff. Faintly ridiculous and over the top in all the best ways, Darklon is pulpy anti-hero space opera on the one hand, and a semi-autobiographical working-out of Starlin’s daddy issues on the other. It’s pretentious as all hell, and all the better for it. I rank it as one of the best bad comics of all time, a nonsensical tour de force that has to be seen to be believed.

Oh, that article also has some of the original black-and-white pages, and it looks a lot better without the colour.

It has apparently never been reprinted again.

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