The Darkness (comics)

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The Darkness
TheDarkness.jpg
The Darkness Issue #1. Art by Marc Silvestri
Publication information
Publisher Top Cow Productions
First appearance Cyberforce #25 (Aug. 1996)
Created by David Wohl
Marc Silvestri
Garth Ennis
In-story information
Alter ego Jackie Estacado
Team affiliations Franchetti Mafia
Darklings
Sierra Muñoz
Abilities Access to an otherworldly dimension and control over the demons that dwell there.
Can teleport through the shadows and manifest armor to increase his strength and enable shapeshifting.
His body heals supernaturally.
A skilled marksman and physical combatant.
Trained in chemistry.

The Darkness is an American comic series published by Top Cow Productions. The concept was created by Marc Silvestri, Garth Ennis, and David Wohl in 1996. The main storyline followed Jackie Estacado, a New York Mafioso who - after turning 21 - inherited the curse of the Darkness. First appearing in Cyberforce Issue #25, Jackie has appeared in both The Witchblade as an occasional supporting character and also a cameo in the limited Universe title. The Darkness has also been portrayed in stand-alone titles and companion titles such as Tales of the Darkness.

Fictional Biography[edit]

Darkness[edit]

The Darkness is a cosmic entity predating recorded history. It is the embodiment of the empty void of chaos which existed prior to the coming of God's light - embodied as the Angelus. As the cosmos formed in its place, the now-usurped Darkness grew to resent God and His creation. Growing powerful enough to manifest itself and conjure a legion of demons, the Darkness declared war upon the Angelus and her host. This lasted for eons until a truce was found to prevent mutual destruction. To seal the covenant, the two powers mated and conceived the Witchblade.

Some time after this, the Darkness began inhabiting human vessels - inherited through the sons of its chosen bloodline; the father passing the curse to his child at the moment of conception, expiring as the force leaves his body. The power then awakens on the son's 21st birthday.

Jackie Estacado[edit]

Jackie Estacado was the vessel of the Darkness for the first run of the series. Raised as a hit-man for the Franchetti Family Mob, Jackie's defining quality was his penchant for murder as well as womanizing. Despite his criminal lifestyle, Jackie followed a strict code of morals. Chief among his beliefs was a trust in those who earned it and a fierce loyalty to family and allies. Early in the series, his main love interest was his childhood friend Jenny Romano. He later developed a romance with Sara Pezzini after the birth of their daughter, Hope Pezzini.

The son of notorious Mob associate Danny Estacado and an unnamed prostitute, Jackie was taken in by Saint Gerald's Orphanage where he was frequently abused by the orderlies. Despite his antisocial nature even as a boy, Jackie protected his friend Jenny from their cruel treatment. At the age of six, Jackie was adopted by upcoming Mob boss Frankie "Kill-The-Children-Too" Franchetti, claiming to be his uncle. He only did so after being persuaded by Sonatine of the Brotherhood of Darkness that bringing Jackie into his inner circle would make Frankie powerful.

Life in the Mob provided Jackie both with a home as well as a sense of safety and family, but also made him more violent and prone to illegal activity. Losing his virginity at age fourteen to a female officer during interrogation, he disregarded the law and developed a sex habit. Making his first hit at age sixteen, Jackie soon became Frankie's chief enforcer; skyrocketing the Franchettis into one of the top Mob families in New York City and fulfilling Sonatine's prophecy. Living a playboy lifestyle, Jackie would often visit Jenny's club to keep in touch.

Both the Angelus and Sonatine kept vigil over the course of Jackie's life; both of them waiting for him to manifest the Darkness - the Brotherhood wishing to exploit his power for their own ends while the Angelus wished only to annihilate the wielder while at his most vulnerable. Jackie was also being watched by followers of the Church of the Angelus which had infiltrated various criminal operations in opposition to Franchetti's. Among them was Regis Tyne, a Mob accountant who would associate with Jackie and attempt to assassinate him over a decade later.

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, Sonatine, and the Brotherhood of the Darkness. Jackie tried to quit the mob, but Frankie kidnapped and killed Jenny, a childhood friend of Jackie's. Jackie, in a warehouse showdown with Franchetti's crew, blew up the warehouse, killing Frankie and burning Jackie alive.

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.[1][2]

Jackie returned to find the Franchetti mob taken over by Frankie's cousin, Paulie. Paulie was able to discover Jackie's secret, and Paulie blackmailed Jackie into doing hits for him. Along the way, Jackie learned how to construct a gun out of the Darkness. Later, Jackie turns on Paulie and takes control of the Franchetti family, eventually taking on the Triads, and fighting the Russian Mafia in Atlantic City.

After a confrontation with the Angelus, Jackie abandoned the Mafia life and fled to a place called Sierra Muñoz in hope of establishing a new empire there.[3] Jackie established a drug cartel in Sierra Muñoz with a Darkness-based narcotic made from his own bodily fluids, built an impenetrable fortress, and formed an army. The residents of Sierra Muñoz resisted Jackie's takeover with the help of the U.S. Department of Defense, which wanted to capture Jackie for experimentation and to learn about his armor. Jackie lost his battle with the army and was captured.

Jackie learned that during a battle with the Darkness, his soul was cast into Hell, leaving his body on Earth. He made a deal with a devil who calls himself the Sovereign, who promises, in return for a number of assassinations, to reunite Jackie's body and soul.[4] Jackie fulfills the Sovereign's demands, including killing a demonically possessed nun, an immortal drug dealer, and surviving an encounter with a dream-stealing witch in Mexico. Eventually, while performing an assassination in Egypt, Jackie comes across a mysterious woman wearing a red ribbon who seems to lure him. He also meets a past Darkness wielder named Aram, also known as the Foreigner, who explains that the Sovereign has been manipulating Jackie from the start and that both his soul and the Darkness are still within him, merely repressed by his will and desire to be free of the Darkness's influence.

Ignoring the Foreigner, Jackie follows the woman and finds himself facing against a resurrected Djinn created by a shaman specifically to kill Darkness wielders. Finding the Djinn to be virtually invincible, Jackie is guided to strangle the woman to death with her own ribbon, breaking the curse of the Djinn and freeing the woman from her eternal servitude. Jackie is confronted by Aram, who further intimidates him into finally summoning the full power of the Darkness once again. Aram disappears, leaving Jackie with the realization of the Sovereign's manipulations and fully intent on revenge with full control of his powers.

Powers & Abilities[edit]

Jackie held the powers of the Darkness, an elemental force of chaos and creation. The core of a Darkness wielder's abilities is their accessing of an otherworldly dimension through the shadows around them and exerting control over the countless demonic creatures that dwell there. These creatures - called Darklings - usually appear as serpentine or goblinoid fiends which cause mischief and murder on behalf of their host and can communicate with their master through telepathy. They possess supernatural strength and stamina as well as deadly claws and fangs.

In terms of individual prowess, Darklings are quite versatile in terms of their physique and purpose; emerging in different forms depending on the intentions or needs of their host. While they share the aforementioned traits, some Darklings have wings and others can breathe fire. Darklings have also exhibited the ability to easily adhere to sheer surfaces as well as teleporting through shadows with their bearer and even producing corrosive chemicals through their siliva or excrement. While beholden to their vessel, Darklings do exhibit their own autonomy.

When in a battle, Darkness wielders envelop their whole bodies in a mystical armor of shadowy metal. This gives them strength and durability beyond that of their creatures as well as razored fingers and bladed tendrils emerging from their shoulders which can transform into wings. With time and practice, the wielder can completely alter the visage of their armor in order to shapeshift their own appearance into someone else for a time. They can also instinctively fashion weapons and shields from their armor in a similar fashion as bearers of the Witchblade.

Wielders of the Darkness exhibit a potent healing factor when injured - the shadows surrounding them absorbed into their body to regenerate cells at unnatural rates, even to the extent of regrowing lost limbs and reconstructing whole portions of the body that have been destroyed. This renders the vessels effectively impervious to disease and poisons as well as resistance to supernatural afflictions such as the powers of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This also allows them a degree of pseudo-immortality as the Darkness keeps them preserved over millennia.

The abilities of the Darkness are limited only by the imagination of the wielder and the proximity of overwhelming light. The wielder is de-powered and vulnerable while illuminated and any construct they've created or conjured will desiccate into dark dust almost instantaneously. Magical artifacts rooted in celestial power are also effective against Darkness bearers. The weapons of Angelus Warriors can kill an unarmored host while only more potent weapons such as the Sun Dagger or the Spear of Destiny can pierce his armored flesh and potentially kill him.

In addition to the curse, Darkness bearers are typically hardened individuals whose lives have endowed them with considerable fighting prowess and survival skills. Wielders from older time periods were usually skilled swordsmen while modern hosts like Jackie are skilled marksmen. Individual wielders might also have personal skills. Jackie was trained in chemistry by Kirchner - enabling him to convert Darkness-borne material into water, corrosives, or a narcotic. Ambitious hosts usually climb to positions of rank; overseeing armies, domains, or businesses.

Significant Characters[edit]

Angelus

The antithesis of the Darkness and a common enemy in the series. Jackie's first confrontation with the entity ended with him as the victor. Sonatine would later conjure the spirit in hopes of it possessing Appolonia Franchetti in their mutual desire to take vengeance on Estacado. Instead, it inhabited the body of the latter's catatonic mother, Lauren. Jackie managed to escape this encounter by creating a doppelganger of himself from the Darkness. This new Angelus would seek sanctuary in the Amazon where she would encounter then-Magdalena, Sister Mariella.
Returning some time after Frankie's death, the Angelus would again seek out Jackie - now Don of the Franchetti Mafia. At the same time, the newest Magdalena - Patience - was assigned to assassinate Jackie. During her hunt, she encountered the Angelus and followed her to Estacado. As Patience subdued Jackie, the Angelus took advantage and attacked. He was able to lure her into a tunnel to weaken her enough for Appolonia to kill her with the Spear of Destiny. The power then possessed Patience for only a few moments before being exorcised through sheer will.

Appolonia Franchetti

The daughter of Frankie and Lauren Franchetti and Jackie's adoptive cousin. When she was a child, she witness her father brutally torture and murder her mother's lover. The trauma of this experience led to Appolonia's resentment of Frankie as well as her own antisocial behaviors. Growing up with Jackie, they both grew to hate each other; him for Franchetti's attention and her for her petty cruelty. Estacado was Frankie's golden boy while he more or less ignored Appolonia and her now-catatonic mother. She eventually left New York to study abroad in Europe.
Appolonia returned to the States shortly after Jackie inherited the Darkness. Bent on revenge and determined to take over the Franchetti Family without Estacado, she had Wenders kidnapped and tortured until he revealed everything he knew about Jackie, his powers, and the Angelus. Collaborating with Sonatine, she planned to become the next Angelus host. This plan misfired when the spirit inhabited her mother instead. She was left in a coma following this encounter and was only resuscitated back to consciousness by the severed blade of the Spear of Destiny.

Aram

The oldest recorded host of the Darkness, Aram the Witch-King was a sovereign and warlock of Ancient African some ten thousand years prior to the Common Era. Willingly letting the curse into his body, he used its power to take entire regions of land to sate his lust for conquest. At some point after becoming disgusted with his cruelty, he used his mastery of sorcery to exorcise the Darkness from his body. Although effectively free from the curse, the Darkness condemned him with immortality; promising that he would wander the Earth until he let it back in.
Over the centuries, Aram - known by then only as the Foreigner - would travel the globe watching over Darkness hosts from a distance. At some point in the course of his trek, he would encounter and slay a djinn created to kill Darkness bearers and would also outwit the Sovereign.

Capris Castiglione

Jackie's twin sister and a minor ally in the first volume of the series and later a primary antagonist in or around the last volume. Separated from her sibling at birth, Capris inherited only a small portion of the Darkness's power - being one of the only women to bear the curse. Raised by Father Brendan, Capris lived an idyllic life. This all ended after her 18th birthday when she found her longtime friend and college roommate - Blaire Dray - dead from an appearant suicide. It's soon found out that Blaire was murdered as cover for an illegal porn racket.
Capris made her last appearance in the Outer Darkness storyline, where it was revealed that she had become fully seduced by the euphoric power of the Darkness and had been training and perfecting her powers. The Darkness chose her to be his new host and used her to try to 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.
While she did manifest Darkness powers upon turning 21, Capris's abilities were significantly less than those of her brother when she first appeared in the series. She seemed to function as a repository of power which Jackie drew on during their encounter with the Cherub Hostile. She initially only showcased increased strength and resilience as well as the ability to conjure tendrils from the surrounding shadows. Over a decade later, her powers expanded exponentially to the point of manifesting her own armor and creating zombies by feeding them her blood.

Sonatine

The leader of the Brotherhood of Darkness and a recurring antagonist early in the series. Having followed Jackie's bloodline since the days of their founder - Miguel Estacado - Sonatine was obsessed with remaking the world in the image he desired using the powers of the Darkness. Sonatine first met Jackie after he manifested the curse. While initially presenting himself as a mentor, Jackie's refusal led to the Brotherhood kidnapping Jenny to force his cooperation. However, this plan backfired when the Angelus arrived and they were forced to work together.
Sonatine's knowledge of the occult allowed him a degree of arcane ability and a prolonged lifespan. He carried a star talisman that compelled people to believe anything he said or to answer any question truthfully. It could also create light powerful enough to frighten Darklings. He was also schooled in ceremonial magic and possession. These were showcased when he ritualistically conjured the presence of the Angelus in an attempt to enslave its power, and later after being gravely wounded he transferred his consciousness into one of his servants, Wenders.

Sovereign

The Sovereign was the Emperor of Rome roughly three thousand years prior to the Common Era. His reign was short-lived as he and his family were murdered by a bearer of the Darkness. Sentenced to Hell for his cruelties in life, he managed to deceive an angel into freeing his soul. Bargaining with the Fates to be spared an eternity of torture, he became a custodian of souls sent to Hell. Able to enter the living world only by possessing statues made in his image, the Sovereign became obsessed with taking revenge of any vessel of the Darkness he encountered.

Collected Editions[edit]

The series has been collected into a series of trade paperbacks:

  • Volume 1 (1996–2001):
  • 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 #1–3, The Darkness one-shot, Angelus one-shot, Witchblade one-shot, ISBN 978-1-60706-051-2)
  • Compendium 2 (collects The Darkness #41–89, The Darkness: Lodbrok's Hand one-shot, The Darkness: Shadows And Flame one-shot, The Darkness: Butcher one-shot, ISBN 1-60706-403-0)
  • 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 #106–111, April 2013, ISBN 1-60706-672-6)
    • Progeny (160 pages, collects Artifacts #25–26, Witchblade #164–165, and The Darkness #111, August 2013, ISBN 1-60706-748-X)
    • Rebirth: Volume 3 (160 pages, collects The Darkness #112–116, February 2014, ISBN 1-60706-806-0)

Crossovers[edit]

Both Jackie and past Darkness wielders have been featured in a handful of crossover storylines. A few are self-contained, with only a loose continuity with the main series of either characters. Others are more parallel to the established canon and may include other Top Cow lines.

Batman

Jackie's first major crossover was with Batman. Unlike his other encounters, this story is explicitly regarded as canon with the main plot as it was Bruce's impression on Estacado's conscience that drove him to betray his Uncle Frankie - concluding the first volume of the series.

Eva, Daughter of Dracula

Spawn

Superman

Vampirella

Vampirella sought Jackie out after a symbiotic vampire with the ability to move from body to body as a swarm of flies escaped from a psychiatric ward in hopes of possessing Estacado and thus usurping the Darkness for himself. Despite Jackie's lack of care, she persisted her hunt. They finally confronted the vampire in a strip club. Overpowering Vampirella and facing Estacado, the parasite began possessing Jackie's body. He was able to drive the swarm back and slay him with the Darkness. Although Vampirella left the scene, Jackie was grateful for her help.
This crossover shares a parallel canon with The Magdalena/Vampirella crossovers, as Vampirella is seen reuniting with Patience at the end of the issue and it was from her that Vampirella learned of the whereabouts of the renegade vampire and his plans for Jackie and the Darkness.

Wolverine

Other Media[edit]

Film[edit]

In December 2004, Dimension Films paid an undisclosed six-figure sum to develop a movie based on the comic, with a planned release for 2008.[5] The film rights were later sold to the Pang brothers in December 2005.[6]

At Comic-Con 2009, Top Cow president Matt Hawkins revealed that a live-action The Darkness film was in development, with Scott Stuber Productions attached as the producer for the project.[7] In 2012, Len Wiseman signed on to produce the movie.[8]

Video Games[edit]

A game based on The Darkness was released for the PlayStation 3 on June 20th, 2007, and for the Xbox 360 eight days later. Developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by 2K Games, the game follows a differing version of the story and gives more characterization to the Darkness.[9][10]

A sequel, titled The Darkness II, was released for the PC, the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 on February 7, 2012, developed by Digital Extremes and published by 2K Games.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Darkness vol. 2, #1
  2. ^ Universe #3
  3. ^ Darkness vol. 3 #1
  4. ^ The Darkness: Accursed Vol. 2
  5. ^ SuperHeroHype (2004-12-06). "Dimension Films Enters The Darkness". SuperHeroHype. Retrieved 2015-02-06. 
  6. ^ IGN FilmForce (2005-12-01). "Pang Brothers Eyeing Darkness". IGN. Retrieved 2015-02-06. 
  7. ^ "The Darkness sequel uncloaked – Report". GameSpot. 2009-07-27. Retrieved 2015-03-14. 
  8. ^ Chitwood, Adam (2012-07-09). "Exclusive: Regency in Talks to Develop THE DARKNESS Comic Adaptation with Producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman; Len Wiseman Would Also Produce". Collider. Retrieved 2016-02-24. 
  9. ^ "The Darkness (PlayStation 3)". IGN. 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 
  10. ^ "The Darkness (Xbox 360)". IGN. 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 
  11. ^ Gallegos, Anthony (2012-02-07). "The Darkness II Review". IGN. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 

Cyberforce #25 -5 page black and white, unlettered pencil preview

External links[edit]