An all-star cast of artists assemble to illustrate the historic 75th overall issue of The Darkness. Combining all three volumes of The Darkness since its debut in 1996, Top Cow is renumbering the current series to pay tribute to the legacy of this rich and storied character.
We talked to writer, Phil Hester, about The Darkness.
The Big Bad Wolf: For people that may have not picked up an issue before, can you tell us a
bit about Jackie Estacado?
Phil Hester: Jackie Estacado is a young man raised in the mob to become it's most
feared hitman. On his twenty-first birthday he received a diabolical
birthright- The Darkness. This otherworldly power allows Jackie to do
all sorts of super human, nasty, and cool stuff as long as he's in the
dark. The Darkness comes with a price, though. Should he father a child
the Darkness power will pass to the offspring, killing Jackie. With his
new powers, Jackie sets his sights a little higher than mob bagman.
The Big Bad Wolf: As wielder of The Darkness, what powers does Jackie have?
Phil Hester: He's just scratching the surface, but in the past we've seen him create
his demonic henchmen The Darklings, form an unbreakable armor, shoot
out razor sharp tendrils, survive incredible levels of physical trauma,
heal from mortal wounds, manipulate the chemical composition of
Darkness material, and even create an autonomous being.
The Big Bad Wolf: Can you catch us up to speed on the current storyline?
Phil Hester: After a disastrous attempt at ruling the small country of Sierra Munoz
as a narco-dictator, Jackie has returned to the states as little more
than a common criminal. The Empire arc ended with a cataclysmic battle
between Jackie and The Darkness itself and left Jackie with just a
fraction of his power. He ran afoul of a villain known as The Sovereign
who claimed to have captured Jackie's soul. To reclaim it Jackie must
travel the globe doing The Sovereign's bidding, namely killing anyone
who has crossed The Sovereign in the past.
The Big Bad Wolf: Talk about a cool scene... In The Darkness #10 (issue #74 Legacy), Jackie
amputates both legs and both arms of Troy Raner. After that, Jackie
proceeded to chain Troy to a tire and toss him in a thirty foot well of
turkey shit. How did you come up with that scene, did anything inspire it?
Phil Hester: I live in a rural part of America and at least one farm worker drowns
in a trench or sewage lagoon every season. We have a lot of hog and
poultry operations here, and I'm always hearing stories about some poor
bastard falling in and drowning in one of these lagoons.
The Big Bad Wolf: Can we expect to see more twisted scenes like that in the future?
Phil Hester: Sadly, yes.
The Big Bad Wolf: Issue #75 of The Darkness is due out this February. Do you find it a bit
nerve-racking writing a milestone issue of a series that featured such
great writers and artists?
Phil Hester: Certainly. The powers that be at the Cow tricked me a little, though.
This issue started out as just a normal issue, but they liked it so
much they bumped it up to be a giant sized and scheduled it for the
seventy-fifth issue. So I wound up doing the hard part before I even
knew it was going to be a special issue. That said, I still had to
script it knowing all this great talent was coming on to illustrate.
Regardless of how well I did or didn't do, the art is truly
The Big Bad Wolf: Speaking of artists, is Michael Broussard, returning to the book?
Phil Hester: Oh, yeah. Empire was really taxing, but he's coming back for a chunk of
75, then all of 76-77 and more after I draw issues 79-80.
The Big Bad Wolf: What can we expect in the next few issues from The Sovereign?
Phil Hester: Jackie has run out of patience with him, but it will take the presence
of another mysterious player called The Foreigner to open Jackie's eyes
to exactly what The Sovereign's been up to. When he does there will be
hell to pay... literally!
The Big Bad Wolf: Will we see any enemies from Jackie’s past return?
Phil Hester: Someday, but I'd rather focus on creating new characters for the Top
Cow universe. Problem with Jackie is he doesn't web up his villains and
leave them for the cops, or dump them in Arkham Asylum. They usually
wind up in little bite-sized chunks.
The Big Bad Wolf: Can you give us any hints on what the future will hold for Jackie?
Phil Hester: Well, we've oscillated from the cosmic epics to the gritty crime
stories in our first year and I think the next year will be a strange,
exciting blend of the two. There will be plenty of trench coats and
guns, but an equal amount of freaky, existential horror.
The Big Bad Wolf: When is the next issue due out?
Phil Hester: I don't know the exact shipping date, but we're back to a pretty
regular schedule, so about a month after the current one.
The Big Bad Wolf: Where can our readers find out more about The Darkness?
Phil Hester: Check out the Top Cow website and the adjacent forums, where I hang out
and hold a regular Q&A.
The Big Bad Wolf: In closing, what would you like to say to people that may have never
picked up an issue or haven’t read The Darkness in a while?
Phil Hester: Forget whatever preconceptions you have about The Darkness. We're
maintaining the rich history of the book, but we're not slaves to it.
We're staking out new territory in both the horror and crime genres.
Think of it as Brubaker's Criminal mixed by some mad DJ with Alan
Moore's Swamp Thing. Hard boiled horror. Of course, I suck compared to
those guys, but that's what we're gunning for! Also, the art's
gorgeous, so who needs my lame-ass story anyway?
The Big Bad Wolf: Thank you for your time, Phil! Best of luck with your work on The Darkness!
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