The Darkness (comics)
The Darkness. Art by Marc Silvestri
|Publisher||Top Cow Productions|
|First appearance||Witchblade #10 (1996)|
|Created by||David Wohl
|Alter ego||Jackie Estacado|
|Notable aliases||Chaos, Creation, Cursed Soul, Black Captain, Prince of Darkness, Antichrist, Dark Wyrm, Dark One, Dragon of the Dessert, Shadow God, El Ocaso|
|Abilities||The Darkness allows those who wield it access to an otherworldly dimension and control over the demons who dwell there
Superhuman strength, agility, and speed
Skilled martial artist
The Darkness is an American comic book series published by Top Cow Productions. The series was created by Marc Silvestri, Garth Ennis, and David Wohl. The Darkness is the story of Mafia hitman Jackie Estacado who on his 21st birthday became the bearer of the Darkness, an elemental force that allows those who wield it access to an otherworldly dimension and control over the demons who dwell there.
The Darkness is an ageless power dating back beyond human history. The Darkness is one of the two primal forces of the Universe and is the equal and opposite of the Angelus. He and the Angelus have been at war since the Creation, before which he was the original void of primordial chaos. To avert mutual destruction, the Darkness and the Angelus forged a truce through consummation and in so doing became the parents of the Witchblade.
Since then, the Darkness has always taken a male human host. Usually passed from father to son, leaving the previous host, and taking his life, as the child is conceived. The Darkness' powers remain dormant within the host until they awaken on the host's 21st birthday.
The host of the Darkness is the avatar and Earthly agent of the Incan moon goddess Kilya, from whom he is imbued with the magics of the dark moon. The host can create and control anything he desires with the Darkness, including sentient beings, though anything he creates will crumble to dust in the light. The Darkness is quite deadly, allowing the host to call forth Darkling minions and fanged tentacles to eviscerate his opponents. The Darkness can also be used to maul and feed on people. The host is himself very resilient, able to survive gunshots and envelope himself within a magical body armor that protects him from harm and gives him superhuman physical attributes.
The Darkness does not work at all in direct light, though hosts can manipulate this effect by creating shadows of their own (e.i., turning off lights in a room, smoke grenades, being underground, etc.).
Fictional character biography
Jackie Estacado is the current wielder of the Darkness and a former hitman for the Franchetti Family mob. He is a very violent and sexual man who, though he lives life on the wrong side of the law and can kill without remorse, has a strict set of morals, and a fierce loyalty to those that earn it. Yet the only thing keeping him from being purely evil is his true love Jenny Romano as well as his love for his daughter Hope and others.
Jackie Anthony Estacado was born October 29, 1981 in New York City. He has Italian and Spanish heritage. Jackie joined the Mafia at 6, after being adopted by Mafia don Frankie Franchetti, who was told by a mysterious stranger named Sonatine that Jackie's presence in his mob would make Frankie powerful. Jackie came to the Mafia life easily, losing his virginity to a female officer during interrogation at age 14, and making his first hit at 16. He matured very quickly, and soon enjoyed the life of sex and violence. His actions within the mob caused Franchetti to become the most powerful don in the city, fulfilling Sonatine's prophecy.
However, when he turned 21, his dark powers awakened and he learned of his evil heritage. Jackie spent much of his time escaping from or fighting the Angelus and Sonatine and his Brotherhood of the Darkness. Eventually, Jackie chose to quit the mob and turned on his adoptive uncle, Don Frankie Franchetti, to get a clean slate and exit from his life of crime after a meeting with Batman. However, Frankie kidnapped Jenny, a childhood friend of Jackie's, killed her and sent a videotape to Jackie in revenge. Jackie could not take this and called out Franchetti's mob, leading them to an abandoned warehouse covered in gasoline. When the crew arrived to kill Estacado, Jackie and the Darklings threw down their lighters and blew the place and all its occupants to bits, killing Frankie and burning Jackie alive. Over the course of this series, Jackie has made uneasy and often flirtatious alliances with Sara Pezzini, the current user of the Witchblade.
Jackie spent two days afterward wandering around Hell while searching for Jenny until Tom Judge came and gave him hope, a gift that allows men to exit Hell. Jackie's body was then reconstructed by the Darkness.
Jackie returned to find the Franchetti mob taken over by Frankie's amateur cousin, Paulie. Paulie was able to discover Jackie's secret as well as a long-lost sister of Jenny's. Using this information, Paulie blackmailed Jackie into doing hits for him. Along the way, Jackie learned how to construct a gun out of the Darkness. Later, Jackie discovered the identity of the hitman following Jenny's sister, killed him, and took his revenge on Paulie as well. This led to Jackie taking control of the Franchetti family. With control of the Franchetti family, Jackie vastly expanded his mafia, taking on the Triads, and fought the Russian Mafia in Atlantic City.
Being the Don of the Italian Mafia in New York did not last long however. In searching for revenge, the new Angelus confronted Jackie at the height of her power, but with the help of Patience (the Magdalena) and Witchblade wielder Danielle Baptiste, Estacado managed to crush her, losing everything he had gained. He fled to Sierra Muñoz in hope of establishing a new empire there.
Jackie Estacado is also the biological father of Hope Pezzini, Sara Pezzini's mystical child. The Darkness entity itself said that it used Jackie as the raw material to settle the matter with the Angelus once and for all. Jackie then established a drug cartel in Sierra Muñoz with a Darkness-based narcotic made from his own bodily fluids thanks to the help of a scientist named Professor Kirchner. With the Darkness, Jackie was able to take control of the small tropical republic, build himself an impenetrable fortress, an army and, eventually, even a lover he calls 'Elle'.
Most of this came at a price since the residents of Sierra Muñoz did not take very kindly to him. To express their distaste, they performed various acts of guerrilla warfare and suicide bombings in their struggle for liberation. They managed to find themselves a sponsor in their struggle: the United States military, who were assigned by the Department of Defense to capture Jackie for both experimentation and to learn about his armor. Jackie went to fight the army head-on and, using the Darkness, he was able to take out the entire fleet. Returning to his fortress, he was betrayed by Kirchner and lost control of all of his power, with his Darklings turning on him. Jackie was left for dead after being shot in the neck and falling down a waterfall. Upon his capture he made a deal with the local rebels agreeing to rid the island of the drug he created. In doing so he crossed paths with Elle and she revealed to Jackie that she is pregnant with his baby: a spawn of the Darkness itself.
The Darkness, however, killed Elle upon birth, grew to full maturity and killed Professor Kirchner. A fight between Jackie and the Darkness ended when Jackie left the creature in the upper atmosphere just as dawn was breaking. The Darkness was then destroyed by the rays of the morning sun.
After crashing to Earth following this battle, Jackie was weakened and battered. He flees Sierra Munoz and headed back to the States. But the road home is no easy journey as he runs afoul of Mexican witches and wannabe gangsters. During one such fight, he was knocked out and soon discovers his battle with the Darkness cast his soul into Hell while leaving his body and mind on Earth after he meets and makes a deal with a devil who calls himself the Sovereign, an arch-demon who promises, in return for a number of assassinations, to reunite Jackie's body and soul.
- A female spirit who is the source of all radiance and order, the Angelus is the equal and opposite of the Darkness. She has no regret or guilt and thrives on gaining vengeance over the Darkness. Like the Darkness, the Angelus requires a human vessel to exist in corporeal form. However, unlike the Darkness, she completely subjugates the host's personality. Additionally, the Angelus does not run in bloodlines; she passes from body to body, inhabiting a single woman for an indefinite period of time until she is killed, at which point the spirit will seek out a new vessel. Each new vessel of the Angelus is endowed with the combined memories of their predecessors. The abilities of the Angelus are similar to those of the Darkness; both possess superhuman powers of strength and regeneration, can fly, and can create constructs from their respective elements. The Angelus' powers are weakened while in low-light environments. The angelic servants of the Angelus are called Angelus Warriors.
- The leader of the Brotherhood of the Darkness. Sonatine was a power-hungry man with ambitions of world domination. He was an inquisitor during the Spanish Inquisition. He was killed by Jackie but managed to transfer his spirit into the body of Wenders. At some point, he left Wenders' body and descended into the realm of the Darkness where he was enslaved by past Darkness wielders. He was slain once more when Jackie plunged the Sun Dagger into the Heart of the Darkness, consuming the whole dimension in light and destroying everything within it. He held some measure of Darkness powers, which has allowed him to live for centuries without aging. He carries with him a magical talisman that gives him the power of mind control and also emits light strong enough to ward off Darklings. His other abilities include casting illusions, teleporting, and transferring his spirit into another body.
- The daughter of Don Frankie, and the vengeful child of the catatonic Lauren Franchetti. Responsible for the Angelus' return and unsuccessfully trying to overthrow the Franchetti family, Appolonia is left in a coma. But she is brought out of this state with a fragment from the Spear of Destiny, the Magadalena's weapon, and branches out into her own side of the Darkness herself. After being banished by the Angelus she mysteriously reappears on the anniversary of her parents' marriage. She is generally happy to see Jackie and is terrified of her mother (as she feels there is nothing remaining of her). Appolonia appears to be in league with the Angelus, setting up Jackie, but in reality betrays the Angelus when she is about to kill Magdalena and Jackie. Appolonia kills her mother with the Spear of Destiny, ending her mother's suffering.
- The Magdalena is descended from Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ. The first Magdalena introduced was Sister Mariella, the daughter of Sister Rosalia. Mariella was prematurely sent to battle Jackie, and since she was brought up in a crooked sect of the church, was a wild Christian fanatic who did not know right from wrong. She was left for dead, but recovered, only to battle the Angelus and again be left for dead. Afterwards, Patience, the current Magdalena, is sent out to attack the Darkness, and Jackie mistakes her for Mariella as does the Angelus. After explaining the situation to him, they end up teaming up against the Angelus, and Patience is possessed by her spirit. Jackie saves her and the Angelus flees. Patience aided Jackie in defending Sara while she was in labor with their child.
- The Sovereign is a human-turned-archdemon and was once a Roman king over 2,700 years ago in Ancient Rome during the time of the Roman Kingdom. He and his family were slain by a wielder of the Darkness named Naram-Sin. He tricked an angel into letting him out of Hell and made a deal with the authorities of Hell in order to obtain a privileged position as a keeper of damned souls and as a lord of a corner of Hell itself, all of which so he could exact vengeance over the Darkness both for the fall of his kingdom and the deaths of himself and his family. The Fates bound his soul after death to the many idols made in his image as a means of ironic punishment for his vanity, robbing him of his flesh and therefore his ability to partake in Earthly pleasures.
- Aram, also known as the Foreigner, was a Witch-King who lived in ancient Africa. He was a wielder of the Darkness who used his powers to slay entire armies of his opponents and to conquer nations. At some point, he used his natural magic as a witch to drive the Darkness out of his body without killing himself in the process. The Darkness cursed Aram with eternal life and condemned him to wander the Earth for all time. Aram spent the next 10,000 years as a simple witch. At some point he met the Sovereign and defeated him and also slew the Djinn that was created to kill wielders of the Darkness.
- Jackie has a twin sister named Capris Castiglione. The two were separated when they were just babies. Worried about the Darkness's power and influence on her other child, their mother entrusted Capris to Father Brendan. He raised her in an orphanage as if she was his own daughter. Capris' destiny was twisted when she found her best friend Blair murdered. She discovered that Blair was used in illegal porn movies. When Father Brendan was dying, he revealed Capris' past and twin brother to her. She met a Native American by the name of Robert Bearclaw who taught her how to use the limited Darkness powers that she inherited from her father.
- Five years later, full of hatred, Capris sought out the men responsible for her friend's death. She pretended to be stripper named Tiffany and waited for a right moment to kill them. Ripclaw followed her on the revenge trip and offered to resume training her in the use of the Darkness. When she met her brother, Jackie Estacado, for the first time, she told him where the Angelus was holding Frankie, and then disappeared. When Jackie needed to fight Cherubs, and Ripclaw took him to the spirit world, Capris looked after their earthly bodies and kept Jenny company.
- Capris made her last appearance in the Outer Darkness storyline where it is revealed that she has become fully seduced by the euphoric power of the Darkness and has been training and perfecting her powers. She is responsible for creating the zombie-like creatures that have been seen throughout Omaha, Nebraska. The Darkness chose her to be his new host and used her to try and kill Jackie. She attacked and overpowered him with her superior powers and would have killed him if not for Aram using his last bit of magic to shut down The Darkness. Jackie killed Capris using a magical crystal glove given to him by Aram. She is last seen as a damned soul in a strange afterlife for Darkness wielders.
Powers and abilities
Jackie wields the powers of the Darkness, a universal force of chaos and creation. He uses the power to increase his strength, agility, speed and durability, as well as call upon countless legions of Darklings and tentacles of various shapes and sizes to eviscerate his opponents, interact with or manipulate the environment, and lift large objects such as vehicles and throw them across long distances. Jackie can see and hear through the eyes of the Darklings and can communicate with them through telepathy.
Jackie commonly uses the Darkness to craft a mystical suit of body armor about himself which increases his strength and durability further, makes him impervious to such things as gunfire and swords, and allows him to shapeshift to achieve such feats as growing a pair of wings to fly, creating weapons such as claws and blades, or changing his appearance. The armor also provides Jackie with oxygen and other bodily needs which allows him to survive in harsh or uninhabitable environments, such as in outer space or underwater.
Jackie's feats of strength while increased by his armor include bending steel and breaking chains all with his hands, smashing through concrete, ripping reinforced steel doors off their hinges single-handedly, manhandling and dismembering grown men, lifting cars, and tearing off the gun of an M1 Abrams. While empowered by the Darkness, and combined with his invulnerability, regenerative abilities and stamina, Jackie has proven a physical match to virtually any single superhuman opponent, only ever being bodily overpowered when exposed to intense light, vastly outnumbered by immensely strong enemies, or when confronted by an enemy much stronger than himself, such as the Heart of Darkness.
Jackie also possesses some limited precognition, as he has seen on a few occasions how, where and when individuals will die. He boasts a potent healing factor that allows him to heal from any severity of bodily damage or loss in a matter of seconds and also protects him from diseases. He can also heal the wounds of others with the Darkness, even to the extent of restoring whole body parts and healing mortal wounds. Jackie can teleport to any location by traveling through the shadows, provided that the area is shaded.
Jackie holds dominion over all creatures that he has personally created with the Darkness, able to shape and destroy them at will. However, these creatures, although loyal to Jackie by nature, do have a mind and will of their own and have tried to rebel against Jackie in the past. Additionally, Jackie cannot influence other wielders of the Darkness or their creations.
On top of his mystical powers, Jackie's mental and physical abilities are at peak-human performance and he is a master marksman (with a preference for dual 9mm handguns), all of which are the result of his hitman background and physical training. During his time with Dr. Kirchner, Jackie learned many of the basics of physics and chemistry to the extent of creating a potent drug from the Darkness, a mystical gun, converting Darkness-borne materials into water, and creating a corrosive substance capable of melting through a brick wall.
The series has been collected into a series of trade paperbacks:
- Volume 1 (1996–2001):
- Coming of Age (176 pages, collects The Darkness preview and The Darkness #1-6, 1998, ISBN 1-58240-032-6)
- Ultimate Collection (352 pages, collects The Darkness #1-6 and #40, Volume 2 #1-6, 2007, ISBN 1-58240-780-0)
- Heart of Darkness (144 pages, collects The Darkness #7-8, 11-14, 2001, ISBN 1-58240-205-1)
- Spear of Destiny (106 pages, collects The Darkness #15-18, 2000, ISBN 1-58240-147-0)
- Original Sin (166 pages, collects The Darkness #15-25, 2005, ISBN 1-58240-459-3)
- Flesh and Blood (464 pages, collects The Darkness #26-39, October 2005, ISBN 1-58240-538-7)
- Compendium (1280 pages, collects The Darkness #1-40, Tales of the Darkness #1-4 and Darkness: Wanted Dead, December 2006, ISBN 1-58240-643-X, November 2007, ISBN 1-58240-801-7)
- Origins Volume 1 (176 pages, collects #1/2-06, ISBN 978-1-60706-097-0)
- Origins Volume 2 (176 pages, collects #07-10, Witchblade issues #18-19, ISBN 978-1-60706-103-8)
- Origins Volume 3 (208 pages, collects #11-18)
- Origins Volume 4 (176 pages)
- Volume 2 (2002–2005):
- Resurrection (176 pages, collects The Darkness Volume 1 #40, Volume 2 #1-6, 2004, ISBN 1-58240-349-X)
- Demon Inside (272 pages, collects The Darkness #7-16 and Darkness: Wanted Dead, January 2007, ISBN 1-58240-646-4)
- Depths Of Hell (224 pages, collects The Darkness #17-24, September 2007, ISBN 1-58240-795-9)
- The Darkness Vs. Eva - Daughter of Dracula (104 pages, collects The Darkness Vs. Eva #1-4, 2008, ISBN 1-933305-85-1)
- Top Cow/Marvel: The Crossover Collection Vol. 1 (304 pages, collects Devil's Reign #1-8, Wolverine/Witchblade, The Hulk/The Darkness, ISBN 978-1-58240-533-9)
- DC/Top Cow Crossovers (200 pages, collects The Darkness/Batman, The Darkness/Superman, JLA/Cyberforce & JLA/Witchblade, ISBN 978-1-4012-1338-1)
- Unholy Union (Marvel Comics crossover: featuring the Hulk, the Darkness, Ghost Rider, Witchblade, & Dr. Strange).
- First Born (160 pages, First Born #0-3, ISBN 978-1-58240-854-5)
- Broken Trinity (208 pages, Broken Trinity #01-03, The Darkness one-shot, Angelus one-shot, Witchblade one-shot, ISBN 978-1-60706-051-2)
- Volume 3 (2008-2012):
- Accursed: Volume 1 (160 pages, collects The Darkness #1-6, September 2008, ISBN 1-58240-958-7)
- Accursed: Volume 2 (140 pages, collects The Darkness #7-10, 75 October 2009, ISBN 1-60706-044-2)
- Accursed: Volume 3 (160 pages, collects The Darkness #76-79 and Tales of the Darkness: Lodbrok's Hand one-shot, June 2010, ISBN 1-60706-100-7)
- Accursed: Volume 4 (172 pages, collects The Darkness #80-84 and The Darkness: Shadows and Flame one-shot, December 2010, ISBN 1-60706-194-5)
- Accursed: Volume 5 (160 pages, collects The Darkness #85-89, November 2011, ISBN 1-60706-216-X)
- Accursed: Volume 6 (160 pages, collects The Darkness #90-95, March 2012, ISBN 1-60706-495-2)
- Accursed: Volume 7 (160 pages, collects The Darkness #96-100, April 2012, ISBN 1-60706-517-7)
- Rebirth (2012-2013)
- Rebirth: Volume 1 (160 pages, collects The Darkness #101-105, September 2012, ISBN 1-60706-585-1)
- Rebirth: Volume 2 (160 pages, collects The Darkness #106-110, April 2013, ISBN 1-60706-672-6)
- Progeny (160 pages, collects Artifacts #25-26, Witchblade #164-165, and The Darkness #111, August 2013)
- Rebirth: Volume 3 (160 pages, collects The Darkness #112-116, February 2014, ISBN 1-60706-806-0)
In other media
In December 2004, Dimension Films paid an undisclosed six-figure sum to develop a possible movie based on the comic with a planned release for 2008. The film rights were later sold to the Pang brothers in December 2005.
During the 2011 Comic-Con screening of The Darkness II video game, Top Cow president Matt Hawkins and CEO Marc Silvestri revealed that a live-action film of The Darkness was in development. Details on the project were light, with Hawkins saying that Scott Stuber Productions will be the producer for the project.
In March 2005, The Darkness was licensed by Majesco for a console game to be developed by Starbreeze Studios. 2K Games later obtained the rights to the game, and the first-person shooter was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 console systems on June 25, 2007 in North America and on June 29, 2007 in Europe (Xbox 360 only - PlayStation 3 version was released on July 20).
To promote the video game a five-issue mini-series was released, with each issue chronicling a chapter of the game. In June 2007 it was collected into a trade paperback (ISBN 1582407975).
A sequel, titled The Darkness II, was released on February 7, 2012.
- The Darkness vol. 1, #2
- The Darkness vol. 2, #1
- Universe #3
- Darkness vol. 3 #1
- The Darkness: Accursed Vol. 2
- The Darkness: Accursed Vol. 1
- The Darkness vol. 2, #23
- The Darkness: Accursed Vol. 3
- SuperHeroHype (2004-12-06). "Dimension Films Enters The Darkness". SuperHeroHype. Retrieved 2015-02-06.
- By IGN FilmForce (2005-12-01). "Pang Brothers Eyeing Darkness". IGN. Retrieved 2015-02-06.
- [dead link]
- "The Darkness: Level (2006)". Comic Book DB. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- "The Darkness II Unveiled - IGN". Uk.xbox360.ign.com. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- The Darkness (1996–2001) at the Grand Comics Database
- The Darkness (1996–2001) at the Comic Book DB
- The Darkness (2002–2005) at the Grand Comics Database
- The Darkness (2002–2005) at the Comic Book DB
- THE PULSE news of Phil Hester ongoing Darkness Series[dead link]