The Godfather goes supernatural in Top Cow’s The Darkness.
By Matthew Whetstone
When I was a kid I used to hate going to bed because like most kids I was afraid of the dark. Often times when everyone in the house was asleep and the night was smothered by a dreary stillness my mind would race thinking about the horrors that lurked underneath my bed, in every corner, and in every shadow. Even when the sun rose to reclaim its piece of the world my brief respite provided no comfort because the darkness would always return sooner or later. Parents call it silliness, doctors call it nyctophobia, but it’s every day in the life of Jackie Estacado.
Created by Marc Silvestri, Garth Ennis, and David Wohl, and published by Top Cow Productions, “The Darkness” follows the story of mafia hitman Jackie Estacado. Brought up in an orphanage and later adopted by crime boss Frankie “Kill The Kids Too” Franchetti, Jackie Estacado became a stone-cold killer who acquired a mile-long rap sheet before he got his license. Adolescence is an important part of everyone’s development and it was during this time that Jackie developed an appetite for destruction and one hell of a mean streak, but he’s totally a nice guy once you get to know him, at least according to his childhood friend Jenny Romano who is the only light in his life. Stylin’ and profilin’ Jackie learned the only way to win the game of life is to screw the rules. That is until his 21st birthday when Jackie discovered that sometimes the rules screw you.
At the stroke of midnight Jackie becomes the possessor (or the possessed) of a primordial, demonic force known as the Darkness. The Darkness gives Jackie the power to summon monstrosities from other worlds, twist dimensions, regenerate, and strength so immense that Jackie drew first blood against the Man of Steel himself. However, the price of this power goes beyond a mere Faustian pact. Insatiable, tyrannical, ever-lasting, the Darkness has always been there, a mad maestro of human history directing us to our ultimate end. The only man who can save us from the hell the Darkness has envisioned is the man who is already there.
“The Darkness” is an amazing read that combines elements of the supernatural with horror and action to weave a masterful crime drama which, much like the Godfather is both beautiful and violent. Make no mistake. Jackie Estacado is not a good guy. A villain protagonist he’s not above abusing his power to become a kingpin or say, take over an entire country through the use of violence and drug trafficking. Whether he’s disemboweling his enemies, tearing them apart, or ordering his darklings to eat his rivals alive, Jackie isn’t opposed to evil. Evil gets shit done. But whether it was the vengeful hand of God or textbook karma, when Jackie’s life is forever changed by tragedy he’s forced to finally examine his decisions, the kind of man that those decisions have made him, and whether or not his soul is worth saving from the Darkness. This is where the beauty of “The Darkness” really shines.
The road Jackie walks is paved with the bodies of thousands and when confronted with these facts one wonders can such a man ever truly be redeemed? I think this question is a defining aspect of “The Darkness” and it ties into why Jackie Estacado is one of my favorite comic characters. Throughout the story Jackie does try to change and become a better person but his attempts are often met with disastrous results. This is soul-crushingly painful for Jackie because he’s genuinely trying to do better and be better, but whether it’s the punishment for his sins or the Darkness manipulating events around him to ensure the worst possible outcome, he seems doomed to suffer eternally. Even so he never stops trying. He keeps moving forward, trying to overcome himself and the Darkness. Even though each step takes him closer to the abyss.
Jackie comes across other Top Cow Productions characters including the Witchblade wielder Sara Pezzini, Magdalena, Aphrodite V, and the Angelus which is the ancient enemy of the Darkness. These plots are often interwoven to build a universe that seems larger than life but excellent writing and direction ensures that everything is relatively easy to keep track of. “The Darkness” delivers more than enough action, drama, and overall entertainment for anyone looking for something different. It’s said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Don’t let Estacado walk alone.
Matthew Whetstone is a writer, editor, and interviewer with a background in journalism. His diet includes old-school wrestling, anime, comics, and video games. Hard-boiled cynicism and a side of humor, you can check out his review blog at: jetstreamreviews.blogspot.
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