Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Darksiders II: Death's Door

 "I am known as Death.  The Reaper Of Souls." - Death 

Yes, it's time for that regular monthly feature you all hate - the videogame tie in comic!  No wait, come back. It's a short one and this time the videogame in question has a genuine link to the world of comics by virtue of the creative mind behind the series, one Joe Madureira.  He's one of the western comicbook artists who rose to prominence in the 1990's who added a manga influence to his superhero art, resulting in a very recognisable style.  He's was the creative director of Vigil games who created Darksiders: Wrath Of War and Darksiders II the games.  His gorgeous, chunky, styalised designs make the games a real treat to look at and although he only provided the cover image to this comic based on the second game, the interior art does a good job of aping his style.  So although it is only a slim volume, it is nice to look at and provides a little backstory to Death the star of the second Darksiders game.

The plot behind the Darksiders games so far is that there are four horsepersons of the apocalypse, Death, War, Fury and Strife (Fury being female) who are Nephilim and agents of Balance, being neither for Heaven or Hell.  I believe the idea was to have each Horseperson star in it's own game telling the same events from different angles, but the collapse of publisher THQ and the sale of the franchise after just two games may have thrown this into doubt.  Anyway, the first game started with War being tricked into kicking off the apocalypse on Earth too soon.   The Charred Council who are responsible for the Horsepeople let him go (one hundred years having passed on Earth since), although stripped of his former power (part of the game is getting those powers back) and allow him to figure out who tricked him and he uncovers a conspiracy by Heaven to bring the Apocalypse forwards to ensure Heaven was not defeated in it's ongoing war with Hell.  Humanity is wiped out by this point in time, Death's adventure in Darksiders II takes place during War's imprisonment and follows Death's journey to try and restore humanity and save his brother.

The story begins with Death hanging out in Heaven's White City. And like all cities, it has it's "back alleys".  Death introduces himself via narration:

Death: "I am one of the four. I and my brothers and sister, War, Strife and Fury have helped maintain the balance between Heaven and Hell.  Charged by the Charred Council we wait patiently for the Seventh Seal to be broken.  After, we will bring about the Apocalypse when the era of man will end in blood and destruction."

Abbadon the Angel suddenly drops down and attacks him (Abaddon is one of the prime movers of the first game, he is part of tricking War into starting the Apocalypse early, but it rather backfires when he gets killed and reicarnated as a monterous demon thing). Abbadon here though is merely tesing Death's martial prowess.  Satisfied, they talk and Death wants to know what an angel wants with a horseman.
A Wild Abaddon appears!
Abbadon wants Death to hunt and kill a demon for him which is causing havoc on Earth.  When Death enquires if Abaddon's soldiers can't take care of it, Abbadon replies "no".  Death says he cannot go to Earth without sanction. Abaddon says he wouldn't be the first Horseman to slip his reigns.  Death calls him a fool and says "give me a single reason I would accept this quest". Abbadon says he would be in Death's debt.  Death says he does not value Abbadon's patronage.  Finally Abbadon says do it if he values "the Kingdom Of Man".  So Death reluctantly agrees, as he has a bit of a soft spot for mankind and a demon on Earth exterminating mankind sounds like something he should deal with. He says his scythe would be useless on Earth, so Abaddon tells him to find Vulgrim who can supply a weapon that will work there.

Death: "Very well.  But take care Abaddon.  If I smell treachery on your part you will discover first hand that I am very aptly named."

Death visits Vulgrim, purveyor of demonic goods, serving "the black markets of the Underworld". He requires an exotic fee for providing Death with a blade that will work unsanctioned on Earth.  He demands the toungue of a Leviathan that dwells in the depths of the River Styx.  Death, being a badass, complies with this request and gets his blade.
One fresh tongue delivered to your door.
Death rides his awesome horse, Despair to the "Far Fields", where the Custodian of the wilds horses dwells.  He wants the Custodian to open a "Serpent Hole" to Earth as Death can't do it himself while working without official sanction.   The custodian reminices about the time when the four horsepersons came and tamed their horses.  Death was the first to do so and the Custodian notes that he still seems to be the "rash one".

"Your causes have always been just horseman.  I have no reason to doubt your word now. But know that the Charred Council has little forgiveness for defiance, and when the heavens tremble with rage it is always the Earth that suffers."
A portal to Earth is opened
Death travels through the hole and finds himself in Marseilles, France 1722 in amongst a vast number of corpses.  Investigating, Death finds a clue, a four blade pendant one of the dying men is wearing.  He disguises himself as the more traditional form Death is known to humanity by and bumps into Abaddon's "Demon".  Turns out to be a female Angel.

She sets a mob of humans on him, saying he is responsible for their suffering, he fights his way through them, though he does not kill them - yet. He has eyes only for the Angel and knows he must kill her.

Death: "I have come for the Angel and she will not be my first - though I have often fought besides the armies of Heaven. Killing monsters... demons.. brothers alike. It matters not, as long as there is balance."

There must be an angel, playing with my heart, ye-e-ah.
Although Death carries on pondering this state of affairs, admitting that he has doubts sometimes, "what kind of creator would set the world on such a wretched fulcrum."  That is why he is on Earth now, only in death there is balance.  Death finds the Angel in church.  She dismisses Abaddon as an "old fool" obsessed with guarding the White City. She tells Death her motivation:

Angel: "The humans lack faith. They lack goodness. THis plague is but a symptom of their unending sin.   With each soul lost Heaven's light is diminished.  But faith can be reborn. Mankind can be purified.  This is what I have given them. You shall not take it!"
As they fight, the Angel flashes back to an earlier battle, when the Horsepersons fought alongside the Angel's against the Nephilim. She saw a darkness infecting everything but her, whispering to her to go to Earth and save humanity. Death finally kills her, but is troubled. He takes the four bladed pendant that was her symbol to Abaddon.  It protected those who wore it and poisoned those who did not "a novel way to encourage faith" admits Death. He wonders why Abaddon didn't tell him it was a rogue Angel he was after.  Abaddon gives a lame excuse that he thought she was a Demon because she killed ten of his best soldiers.  Death ends the book with these words:

Death: "There is something out there.  Something dangerous.  No longer bound by shadows. It controlled your Angel and drove her to madness. This corruption ebbed when the Angel was slain.  It will return."

And return it does.  In the second game that stars Death, dealing with sticky black corruption that has infected various places and people is a large part of the gameplay and that Death will act withou the sanction of the Charred Council if he finds the cause to be just.  This book also sets up some backstory for the first game, namely the fact that Abaddon is somewhat untrustworthy and prioritises protecting Heaven at all costs.
Abaddon, the shifty bugger.
While the book looks very nice, it makes no sense if you haven't played Darksiders: Wrath Of War, nor the sequel.  If you are a gamer, I would heartily recommend both games, they are lush, goth inspired games based on the Legend Of Zelda template of large overworld's with various dungeons that can be revisted and plundered further, as you progress in the game unlocking new abilities as you go. With fantastic character designs and high quality voice acting, they are both favourites of mine of the Xbox 360/PS3 era of gaming.  I hope the franchise is resurrected as it'd be fun to see what Fury and Strife might get up to, though I think probably War and Death will remain at the forefront as the more marketable names.  The comic is throwaway fun and doesn't really tell you anything the games don't, which is a common problem with prequel's.  Still, I enjoyed it, and I am surprised that two games which are the brainchild of a famous comicbook artist don't have more in the way of tie-in merchandise like this.  Ah well.


  1. darksiders looks cool might have to check it out now, death is sweet looking!

  2. I'm replaying Darksiders II as we speak, if you like Zelda style games it's really a series to explore. I highly recommend it!

  3. I'm afraid I don't like the artwork, although perhaps I'd like the game if I ever played it.

    I think that the four equestrians of the apocalypse should have a 50/50 gender split, with at least one transperson, and not more than one white person. Also, one of them should have a disability. One of them should be <20, and one should be >60. However, I'm not bothered about their body mass indexes.

    Also, I feel sorry for that leviathan. I hope it wasn't a member of an endangered species, but I fear it may have been, as I don't see many leviathans about nowadays. I blame global warming.

    1. Do you hear what bullshits you are talking? 50/50? White person? What you think is this, next America presidential elections? You never played the game but you already have so pretentious oppinion about changing things in it.They are nphilim, dude, they have no age! Stop talking bullshits already and ruin the comix, alright? This is one of the bes games ever made mostly because it's story and conception, who the hell are you to talk about changes?

  4. The art style looks nicer in 3D I have to admit, the steampunk angels with laser cannons are particularly good to look at.

    Strife and Fury haven't been designed officially yet so you never know although it's definite that only Fury is female. Although War has red skin and Death is blue, so race isn't an issue I guess.

    Never fear, there are plenty more Leviathans in this universe. In the game you find a place called the Dead Throne or something being pulled by many of the buggers and you get to run and jump along them in a badass manner.

  5. War has red skin? Native American racist stereotype!!! Nah, only kidding.

    Death is probably blue on account of not being very talented in the breathing department.

    1. War has white skin, black armor and red cape. Death have pale skin because he is the Pale rider. You probably were brn without a brain asking so stupid questions. I see a racist here and he is not someone of the creators of the comics crew. You are such а minor petty person who is seeing his own inferiority complex in others.

  6. Actually War might have red and black skin, it's hard to tell on account of his head being the size of a pea compared to the rest of his body. And Death doesn't let lack of breath hold him back, he wields two scythes and you can slice and dice monsters in great style. He also has one of videogames MANLIEST voices for some reason.

    1. War has white skin, his armor is black and his cape is red. Read The abomination vault, you will learn more. Death's voice is by Michael Wincott, he indeed have one of the best male voices.