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The Darkhold Alpha #1
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘The Darkhold Alpha’ #1 sets the stage for a gnarly, self-contained crossover

Doctor Doom making some of his trademark bad decisions.

Marvel’s answer to the Necronomicon — and most recent MacGuffin-like artifact to be promoted to the MCU — gets its own event starting here, with Darkhold Alpha.

The book, which first appeared way back in the 1970s alongside the elder god Cthon, who crafted it, has long provided flavor and implied depth of history to the magic side of the universe. Despite Cthon’s clearly Cthulhu-inspired namesake, it’s somewhat important to note that Cthon isn’t that sort of elder god — not some great and unknowable being without clear motivation. Cthon wrote himself the Darkhold and has a very storied history interacting both directly and indirectly with the people of Earth-616.

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Darkhold Daddy
Spoooooky.
Marvel Comics

One of those people was Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. In a story so utterly bonkers and with an insane amount of characters, Cthon tried to break into our reality on the night of Wanda’s birth, with Wanda’s inborn magic implied as being born from the event (a version of that story ran as a back up in the Evolutionary War annuals in 1988; if you want to know how Wanda, the High Evolutionary, and Spider-Woman all intersect, feel free to hunt that down).

Nicely set as a series of one-shots — which means every book in the Marvel Universe isn’t subject to its whims — the series looks like it plans on keeping its cast tight and its focus narrow. A real “get in, get out” scenario.

The book focuses around, of course, a very driven Doctor Doom making some of his trademark bad decisions with the single-minded focus with which he makes all large-impact and notoriously prone-to-failure plots. In this case, it means that he’s gonna muck about with the Darkhold. . . and Wanda is not having it.

The Darkhold Alpha #1
If he’s known for anything, it’s finesse.
Marvel Comics

Very vague plans about Doom overthrowing Cthon are bandied about, though I can’t for the life of me understand why Doom’s so dead-set on executing them. It seems easier to let sleeping elder gods lie.

This issue is a straightforward inciting incident and gathering of cast. The old trope of instant teleportation kidnapping is used, and this apparently happens so often that our main players (Spidey, Iron Man, Wasp, Blade, and Black Bolt) are completely unphased by it.

The Darkhold Alpha #1
This unpleasantness is unrelated.
Marvel Comics

While this first issue isn’t the tidiest — a lot of clunky dialogue has to be rammed in for exposition reasons — it’s fairly to the point. The team wants you primed and ready for what seems to be a gnarly-as-hell ride into dark-magic nonsense. The book implies horror, but make no mistake that this is going to be some fairly standard superhero-y weirdness, likely with little impact to the larger universe. While one throwaway line of dialogue about Tony and his current pal Patsy Walker in his own book establishes that, yes, this is happening now, in this continuity, the book doesn’t establish stakes that will have lasting effect.

For those of you with a lingering love of the 1990s series Darkhold: Pages From the Book of Sins, I’m sorry to report that there is no dwarf or any black envelopes in evidence.

The Darkhold Alpha #1
‘The Darkhold Alpha’ #1 sets the stage for a gnarly, self-contained crossover
The Darkhold Alpha #1
Doing the heavy lifting to establish the narrative, The Darkhold Alpha #1 doesn't have a lot of action or intrigue; it only supplies the coming books their grounding.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Slick looking, tightly plotted.
Prologues are rarely action-packed.
6.5
Good

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