What do you get when you cross a well-dressed mafia hitman with an ancient demonic power that gives him the ability to summon tiny foul-mouthed gremlin thingies to do his bidding?A whole lot of Badass, that's what.The Darkness was one of Top Cow Productions' crown jewels of the 1990s' Darker and Edgier trend, created by Marc Silvestri, along with some assistance from Garth Ennis (who wrote the first comic arc) and David Wohl. The hitman in question is known as Jackie Estacado, adopted son of don Frankie Franchetti, and from the first few panels of the first issue, was obviously not disturbed by the lifestyle into which he had been brought, and actually relished it. However, as soon as his 21st birthday came to fruition, he inherited the evil known as the Darkness, which granted him abilities beyond his wildest blood-spattered dreams, the most infamous being the Darklings, the aforementioned little gremlin bastards that act somewhat as his multiple tiny alter-egos that are mostly interested in spouting off politically incorrect commentary and humor, but can disembowel an enemy at a moment's notice if Jackie commands it.Jackie's enemies consisted of not only rival families, but other supernatural beings in the Top Cow Universe that had axes to grind with the Darkness itself, or just happened to cross paths with him at some point or another. Among them were Lara Croft, Witchblade and the Magdalena. His main foe was the Angelus, basically the antithesis of the Darkness, being a female entity and born of light, it wants to eradicate Jackie at any turn, and innocent casualties are of no concern to it.The series itself has a pair of Video Games, as well as an upcoming Live-Action Adaptation that is on the fast track, which is being directed by The Pang Brothers, and rumored to be starring Channing Tatum as Jackie himself.Not to be confused with The Darkness, the zany British hard rock band of the same name.
The comic series contains examples of:
Affably Evil: Butcher Joyce. He and Jackie have friendly chats while disposing of bodies.
Subverted in the third series' first arc where the Darkness says that Jackie's ambitions with his enhanced power are incredibly banal, amounting to being a petty dictator when he could have saved or conquered the world. It doubles as a Reason You Suck Speech.
And I Must Scream: Jackie threatens to seal an immortal murderer/meth-head in a septic tank for all eternity.
And Show It to You: Jackie once ripped out some dude's skeleton and showed it to him. Pop.
Anti-Hero: Jackie goes back and forth between this and Villain Protagonist. He's a horrible murderer who gets people killed via collateral damage but in the first Witchblade Crossover is genuinely horrified at the prospect of having killed an innocent man.
Appropriated Appellation: After knocking over a country, the citizens refer to Jackie as "Ocaso," Spanish for "sunset" or "decline."
Axe Crazy: Jackie (and pretty much everyone else).
Jackie's Blue and Orange Morality amounts to a stylized version of the mafia's own. Drugs and murder are okay but not killing people outside of the business.
Big Bad: Frankie, Paulie, Sonatine, The Sovereign, The Darkness, The Doppelgänger.
Big "NO!": When Jackie learns about the whole celibacy clause. Called into question somewhat when it turns out he can make his own fun.
Doubles as Fridge Logic when it never occurs to Jackie to get a vasectomy or date women who are incapable of giving birth.
Given that The Darkness quickly heals any injuries Jackie sustains, including complete self-immolation when he wanted to die, it's safe to say that if he did indeed get a vasectomy The Darkness would instantly undo it to ensure it's continued existence.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Deconstructed. Jackie finds out that one of his random hits was the fiance of an FBI agent. When he discovers this, the murder suddenly deeply bothers him.
When Dr. Kim Fang was in medical school, and deeply in debt, she agreed to have sex with Jackie in return for settling it. Jackie does not remember the encounter, but it badly scared her, later resulting in her becoming a sex addict and needing therapy. When Jackie finds out he is disturbed by his actions and tries to make amends.
At first it is stated that if Jackie has any form of sex, with a mortal, he will die. Later it changed so that he will only die if it results in conception, still he refused Wenders anyway. In others he will not die until the baby is born, evidenced in that his grandfather tried to kill his grandmother to prevent his own death. Meaning he was alive after having sex.
Cursed with Awesome: Played with a lot in the first comic story. After using the Darkness to take revenge on a rival mob boss, Jackie is cheerful about his awesome new powers. Then he learns about the celibacy clause, and immediately lapses into suicidal depression.
Face Heel Door Slam: Jackie gets this one after a long redemption arc. He turns states evidence in on his Uncle Frankie only to need to run away from Witness Protection to save a stewardess' son from his mobster father. As a result, his Uncle gets out and promptly kills Jenny. Jackie KILLS HIMSELF in a suicide attack on Frankie only for the Darkness to raise him from the dead with the help of Lucifer. He also spent two days in hell, which felt like a million years.
Genre Shift: The first issues of the Darkness are more of a comedy action book than a horror action one. The characters were far more violent; and the dialogue was laced with Seinfeldian Conversation's and frequent references to pop culture. Furthermore the stories were more eccentric and quirky, standing in stark contract to the realism of later issues.
Amusingly, all of them are blindingly beautiful sexpots while the lone male member is a huge fat guy.
I Have You Now, My Pretty: A bit of a subversion in the Empire arc, where he tries to assure the girl with him that he isn't like the last dictator their country had and that "the rape-closets are closed" and that for various reasons he couldn't even if he wanted to. Doesn't really help her, since she's killed when the rebels attack.
Morality Chain: Jenny. Not that Jackie shows much restraint in the first place, but the series' flashbacks and flash-forwards go out of their way to demonstrate how excessively much worse a Darkness user could be. And then she's killed. Predictable things happen next.
In the game, this happens often in flashes so brief they are nearly subliminal, putting the player in the position of feeling like they are hallucinating. The first couple times it happens can result in throwing-the-joystick-and-screaming moments depending on how immersed in the game you are at the time...
In the comic, only daylight and its supernatural equivalent works, whereas in the video game, even a night light makes your powers fade. Justified, since 99% of the game takes place at night, and you'd be near unstoppable otherwise.
More recent comics have gone with the game's version, forcing Jackie to create special darkness-formed lights for his complex in Empire.
Weirdness Censor: "He's wearing some kind of (high tech) body armor" - the army guys when Jackie's manifesting the full demonic exoskeleton and Combat Tentacles.
Fridge Brilliance when you realize that this is the same universe as a bunch of cybernetic ninjas.