This is it, the final showdown between the most powerful Darkstalkers on Earth. The long awaited conclusion to a story that was years in the making has finally arrived.
Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors #3
Written by Ken Siu-Chong
Pencils by Eric Vedder and Joe Vriens
Inks by Crystal Reid
Colors by Espen Grundetjern
Letters by Marshall Dillon
Cover A by Alvin Lee
Cover B by Emily Warren
Published by Udon
Previously in Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors: Donovan’s secret origin of how he lost control of the darkness within and destroyed his hometown was revealed during his battle with Bishamon. It was an even match that ultimately saw Bishamon as the victor. Just as he was to finish Donovan off, Anita stepped forward to take her revenge on the demon that killed her family. By filling Bishamon with all the pain she had collected since last they met, Anita was able to defeat the cursed armor and set the spirit of the warrior trapped inside free. Pyron, the world destroyer, finally made landfall just as Morrigan appears to stop Demitri’s up coming assault on her father’s kingdom. The issue ends with Donovan and Anita chasing after Pyron who is determined to meet both Morrigan and Demitri in battle.
THE FINAL CHAPTER
The issue begins in the heat of battle as Morrigan and Demitri show each other some of their signature moves. Suddenly they are both interrupted by the appearance of Pyron who wishes to amuse himself by battling them. The two warriors put their differences aside temporarily as they attempt to take down the god. Alas, the fight is over all too quickly as Pyron makes incredibly short work of them both. As he’s about to devour the both of them, Donovan and Anita are heard approaching. After cutting through the Huitzil robots, Donovan engages Pyron in battle only to find it impossible to hurt a being of pure energy with nothing but a sword and a fist. Displaying a few signature moves of his own, Pyron quickly defeats Donovan. Just as he is at death’s door, Anita unleashes her powers on Pyron and, essentially, makes him mortal.
As Pyron tries to figure out what happened, Demitri appears behind the fallen god and sinks his teeth into his neck. Having drained the remaining energy from Pyron, Demitri is more powerful than ever and ready to launch his assault on the Demon Kingdom. Things were looking to be in Demitri’s favor until Morrigan revealed that Demitri’s passage to the Demon Kingdom had disappeared with the defeat of Pyron. As she slips through her own gateway, Demitri howls out in rage for being trapped on Earth yet again. With the combined efforts of Donovan and Anita, they were able to encase Demitri and his castle in ice and put them into orbit where his newly found power couldn’t hurt anyone. Returning to her father’s throne, Morrigan arrives just in time to hear the King’s last request before he dies. Hidden in a secret chamber of the castle, Morrigan’s servants escort the now ruler of the Demon World to a chest said to contain her sealed away “true power”. To her surprise the chest was empty. Looking upon the castle from a distance, the demon Jedah is seen holding Lilith, the other half of Morrigan’s power made flesh.
WRAPPING UP A MAJOR STORY IN THREE ISSUES
Finally, this story has come to an end. I can’t even recall how long ago they started Darkstalkers; I think it was 5 years ago at least. For a fan of the series, it felt like an eternity for them to crank out nine issues. I’m glad that they returned to finish the tale with this mini series but I can’t help but feel like it should have been fleshed out better. They addressed the core conflict with Pyron, Donovan, Morrigan and Demitri but there were other story lines that didn’t get mentioned let alone concluded. What ever became of Felicia and Tailbane’s cross country trip? Victor set out on a quest of his own and we never saw what became of that. Not to mention that they didn’t even show classic characters like Rikuo, Hsien-Ko, or Lord Raptor. Giving this book the ending it got leaves room for them to expand on the Night Warriors storyline, so here’s hoping that these missing characters make an appearance there.
BEHOLD THE POWER OF A LITTLE GIRL
As for the actual story, I couldn’t help but feel that things were too rushed. After Anita performed a single hit K.O. on Bishamon in the previous issue, I was hoping that Donovan would step up to the plate and knock one out of the park in this issue. Instead, the “legendary vampire hunter” is once again looking to a little girl to save him. Anita’s powers were never explained in the game so making her the Deus Ex Machina in this story felt too convenient. Once again, Anita takes down the big bad with a single attack. It seems that the end of this story was one easy take down after another. Anita beats Bishamon in one hit, Pyron beats Morrigan and Demitri in two hits, Anita beats Pyron in one hit, and Donovan and Anita eject Demitri from battle in one hit. When Udon wrote their Street Fighter stories, they knew how to draw a battle out much better than what they did here. I’m disappointed.
WHERE’S THE REST?
For a finale issue, it felt rather short too. There wasn’t a change of scenery so perhaps that had something to do with it. But what I think is really behind this feeling I have is the lack of back story in this issue. It would have been a perfect opportunity to close out another minor tale or showcase a character that has yet to make an appearance. The way they ended the book (with Morrigan ascending to the throne and Jedah and Lilith plotting deviously in the distance) could have been cut from the main storyline and turned into a back story itself. Not having a back story in an Udon book makes me feel like the issue was incomplete. I sincerely hope that they plan to start a new storyline but, with how Udon prioritizes the publication of their comics, I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up.
THE FINAL REPORT
The art is of the same high quality that I’ve come to know Udon to produce. The story telling for this issue, while rushed, did give enough closure to the tale so that fans aren’t left hanging wondering if their comic will ever return to print (sorry Rival Schools fans). As an issue, I give this three stars. However, as a nine issue series, I’d give Darkstalkers four out of five stars because the early works were really spectacular and it was only in this new series that things started to take a slight decline. I would strongly recommend that fans of the game buy volumes one and two of this title. Volume two is coming out some time soon and if you buy it from Amazon (like I do) then they’re only about ten dollars each.