And this is when he's NOT pissed off.
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 1990
s' 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
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.
- Mister Vespasian the Torture Technician that takes breaks to offer his victims a Spot of Tea.
- Alas, Poor Yorick: Kirchner
- Ambition Is Evil: 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.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Jackie
- Badass Longcoat: Jackie
- 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 (self-healing may nullify this option) or date women who are incapable of giving birth. But he never envisaged that Jackie just can't forget vaginal intercourse and have other sexual practices.
- Black and Gray Morality or Evil Versus Evil
- Jackie bounces back and forth between being a comically psychopathic mass murderer versus a nuanced killer who is weary of all the killing.
- Black Comedy
- Bloody Hilarious: The Darklings are psychopathic CloudCuckooLanders.
- Body Horror
- Bottomless Magazines
- 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.
- Butt Monkey – Wenders
- The Can Kicked Him
- Can't Have Sex, Ever: Played straight and subverted.
- 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.
- Cartwright Curse
- Characterization Marches On: Jackie in the first volume is almost unrecognizable from the second and neither resembles the third. Arguably, this is Character Development since Jackie went to hell between the second and third volumes.
- Combat Tentacles
- Contract on the Hitman
- Cool Old Lady: Jackie's Aunt Sarah.
- Cool Versus Awesome: The Darkness vs Dracula! This version of the Count is so badass that it dismisses Jackie and The Darkness as something below him and gets the better of Jackie in their brawl.
- Creepy Child: "Miss Happy" from the crossover with Darkchydle, and the Legion of Cherub Hostile for a more malevolent version.
- Cross Over: Many. Witchblade, Magdalena, and Lara Croft (same universe), Wolverine (same writer), Ghost Rider, Hulk, Doctor Strange, Batman...
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Often
- 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.
- Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday: Or rather, 21st birthday...
- Dark Age
- Dark Age Of Super Names
- Dark and Troubled Past
- Dating Catwoman
- Defector from Decadence
"We used to have honor in this Family. Codes!"
- Demonic Possession: Well duh!
- Distressed Damsel: Jenny
- Drink Order: Jackie is somewhat unique amongst his mafioso brethren in that he doesn't drink alcohol at all.
- The Dog Bites Back: Jenny kicks Sonatine's ass.
- Draco in Leather Pants: Seen in universe.
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Don Franchetti to his daughter, Appolonia while she's comatose.
- Drugs Are Bad: Nightfall
- Dysfunction Junction – the Franchettis. One Big Happy Family.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Sonatine's lair under the Statue of Liberty.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Darkness (evil cosmic power ), the Angelus (good cosmic force ), and the Witchblade (Yin-Yang Bomb Balance Between Good and Evil).
- Elektra Complex / Female Oedipus Complex – Appolonia Franchetti, she wants to kill and replace her father and... "mother, you're so beautiful..."
- Enemy Mine: At times with Sarah Pezzini and the Magdelena.
- Enemy Within
- Enfant Terrible: Jackie and Elle's "son."
- The Legion of Cherub Hostile is an entire army of them. Granted of the Really 700 Years Old variety. One of Jackie's contracts for The Sovereign was also a child warlord.
- Enforced Cold War: Paulie keeps Jackie under his control for a while with the threat that he would off the only family (Jenny) ever had.
- Even Evil Has Standards
- Evil Overlord: The Empire arc.
- Evilutionary Biologist: Kirchner
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A dark comic with a dark Anti-Hero in dark situations is called The Darkness. How subtle is that?
- Eye Scream: With CHOPSTICKS!!!
- 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.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: Yeah, it's a comic book. No, it is most definitely not for kids.
- Freudian Excuse
- From a Single Cell
- 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.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Jackie, and any of his enemies of a supernatural persuasion.
- Groin Attack
"Wenders, this is Darkus."
"THERE'S A DEMON IN MY PANTS!"
- Jackie receives quite a few of these throughout the series. His usual response is to complain about his groin being a target when he Can't Have Sex, Ever anyways.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy
- Guns Akimbo
- Half the Man He Used to Be
- Heel-Face Turn: Apollonia. Sort of.
- Heel Face Door Slam: Jackie gets this, after a fashion, when he's sucked back into the mob after escaping it.
- Hearing Voices: The Darkness.
- Heroic Host: The Darkness.
- Hitman with a Heart
- Hypocritical Humor: Jackie's Sexaholics Anonymous meeting proves counterproductive as he gets hit on by all the girls there.
- 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.
- I'm a Humanitarian: From the Empire arc:
Darkling: It's been so long since I've had decent Italian.
- In the Blood: The Darkness, that is...
- James Bondage: In one crossover with Witchblade.
- Jerkass Gods: Both the Darkness and the Angelus, as well as The Sovereign. The latter even gets called on the fact that he has basically betrayed everyone he's ever visited for no real reason.
- Jumped at the Call: "Darkness likes you." Awesome dark powers... Sweet.
- Kick the Dog – Lampshaded
- A note on the above quote, Jackie said this because he already knew she was one.
- Jackie gets a number of these with how callous he is to his dates getting killed as collateral damage.
- Jackie's biggest one to date is in the Empire arc where he enslaves an entire nation with super-heroin.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Applies to many of Jackie's hits.
- Kill You Last
Jackie: You know what? I'm starting to like you.
Kirchner: But you're still going to kill me.
Jackie: Oh, yeah.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Often.
- Light Is Not Good: While the Darkness is just... the Darkness, its counterpart The Angelus is far, far worse. In one alternate future, it nukes the Earth with light to get rid of the Darkness.
- Living Shadow
- Lonely at the Top
- Lovecraftian Superpower
- Ludicrous Gibs
- Mad Scientist: Kirchner
- Made of Plasticine
- The Mafia
- Mind Rape: Sonatine on some poor helpful bouncer. "I rewrote his memory. Tremendous fun."
- Mob War
- 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.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The Darkness.
- Mr. Vice Guy: Jackie
- Mugging the Monster: Hilarity Ensues.
- Mundane Utility: After a bout of fighting and a team-up with the second Magdalena, Jackie sends the Darklings to his apartment to pick him up a tuxedo to impress her.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Chosen One kid in the post-apocalyptic future that unleashes the Angelus and dooms the world.
- Nightmare Sequence: In the game and in the comics.
- Nineties Anti-Hero: A mafia hitman with demonic powers, making him one of the most extreme examples.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown
- Noble Demon
- Not Blood Siblings: Jackie and Appolonia.
- Oh, Crap: Probably too many to list individually:
- A rival mob boss in The Can Kicked Him scene.
- Paulie and his goons when Jackie comes for them.
- The army guys when he smashes head-on into their helicopter.
- ...and just about anyone about to be splattered all over the walls - which happens quite frequently...
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Kirchner
- Orifice Invasion: Combined with Stripped to the Bone *pulls a guy's skeleton out* "POP!"
- Out of the Inferno: In the "Empire" arc.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Jackie
- Pet the Dog:
- Jenny, Jenny's sister, the Magdalena, Marisol...
- Jackie (seemingly out of nowhere) often does something noble.
- Plucky Comic Relief: The Darklings are foul-mouthed imps with a talent for evisceration. Until his return from Hell. Then they stop being so funny.
- Powers Do the Fighting: The Darkness can frequently use his powers to produce shadowy masses of tentacles, in order to drag, mutilate, or capture his foes.
- Psycho Lesbian: The Angelus. It seems to be something within the Angelus itself since the second Angelus hints at creating female sexual partners.
- Public Domain Character: Compare the Darkness with the Haunter of the Dark of the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Putting on the Reich: Sonatine's Mooks look like golden Klan members.
- Reality Warper: Jackie, to a limited degree.
- Revealing Hug: when Appolonia is introduced and is reunited with dear old dad.
- Right-Hand Cat: Appolonia is introduced with one, it’s Lampshaded, and Defied
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Kirchner
- Screw Yourself: Elle has elements of this. Jackie made her from the Darkness using himself as a template.
- Secret Legacy
- Shout-Out: "The Darkness is like the Force on crack."
- Sibling Rivalry: Jackie and Appolonia
- Sliding Scale Long Name: Go on. Guess which end this series is on.
- Smug Snake: Apollonia.
- Snarky Nonhuman Sidekick: The Darklings.
- Sociopathic Hero: Jackie
- Staying Alive
- Straw Feminist: Appolonia's father thinks she's one of these.
- Stripperific: The Angelus
- Stuffed In The Fridge: Jackie gets stuffed as a realistic consequence of her choices.
- Super Power Lottery: Jackie
- Take That:
- In one scene, the Magdalena holds up an Elmo doll (from Sesame Street) and asks what kind of sick and twisted mind could create such a thing. Subverted with the fact she's biding for time by saying something insane in hopes of distracting Jackie long enough to shoot him.
- Jackie finds a Star Wars toy (Darth Vader) that says, "You don't know the power of the Dark Side." Annoyed, Jackie says it knows nothing and smashes it.
- Taking You with Me: "I don't suppose you'd let me have One Last Smoke... Say, do you smell gasoline?"
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Jackie
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: As of the third volume, Jackie has eliminated no less than four entire crime families.
- Through the Eyes of Madness:
- After coming Back from the Dead, Jackie begins to hallucinate seeing his associates as rotting corpses.
- 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...
- Torture Technician: Mister Vespasian.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Even before a certain traumatic Freudian Excuse-worthy event Appolonia is displaying sociopathic behavior with her dolls... It becomes Fridge Brilliance and Fridge Horror when you realize that her father was probably molesting her, kissing her on the lips when she's comatose.
- The Tunguska Event: ...was caused by a fight between the Darkness and the Angelus.
- The Underworld: According to Danny Estacado, a previous host of the Darkness Entity, and Nick (who is actually the true Devil that religious stories of Lucifer and The Devil are all based on) all souls - whether they were good or evil in life - eventually fall into Hell. A rather disheartening side note is that there actually is a Heaven in the series but no human soul has ever been seen to enter it due to the fact only "beings of light" are allowed entrance.
- Villains Out Shopping: Frequently...
- Villains Want Mercy: Cousin Paulie sure did in the comics when Jackie unraveled his plans and cornered him. To say he didn't get it is an understatement.
- Virgin Power: Much to Jackie's dismay.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Darkness' weakness is light.
- 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.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Often
- Who's Laughing Now?: