The Darkness’ mob hitman-turned magically-empowered killer Jackie Estacados’ life will be getting a lot more complicated in writer Phil Hester’s current arc on Top Cow’s long-running series called “Outer Darkness.” Starting in March’s issue #90, Jackie has found himself unable to catch his breath after finally taking out his longtime nemesis, the Sovereign. Now, with assassins on his tail and traitors in his midst he’s got an even bigger problem: The Darkness, the lethal, morphing “suit” that he controls, has decided that perhaps Jackie isn’t the best host.
Phil Hester was kind enough to talk to MTV Geek about his current—and last—story arc for The Darkness, which will culminate in the series’ landmark 100th issue in 2012.
MTV Geek: So exactly what is the Darkness’ beef with Jackie and how is he handling it?
Phil Hester: The Darkness and the Estacado family have long, troubled relationship. The Darkness needs a host on Earth, and the Estacados, louses that they are, have proven to be a great match. The Darkness binds itself to the Estacado line such that adults acquire their power on their 21st birthday, providing their fathers’ have already passed on (they always do). Jackie has bucked that trend by not procreating.
Lately, Jackie hasn’t been as evil as The Darkness had hoped for. They expected a villain, not an anti-hero, so they’re considering detaching themselves from the Estacado family tree. Jackie, though sick of the Darkness, understands that without its power he is relatively helpless in a sea of both normal and supernatural enemies, and that The Darkness, unfettered by even his atrophied sense of morality, would be too evil to contemplate. It’s a match made in Hell.
Geek: What exactly is the Darkness looking for in a bearer?
Geek: As dangerous as Jackie is with the Darkness, how dangerous is the Darkness without Jackie?
PH: That’s what this arc is all about. Jackie has been acting as a regulator of sorts. His dark, but strong sense of morality has kept the Darkness from unleashing its full, grotesque fury on the world. It wants out from under his thumb.
Geek: Who is Jackie now as a character without the Darkness?
PH: No one knows, even Jackie. He’s been with The Darkness his whole adult life. He’s spent plenty of time trying to shed it, but now that roles have reversed he’s begin to understand how much he depends on it. Is he just a little punk criminal, or has everything he’s seen as wielder of The Darkness changed him for the better?
Geek: Are there any other enemies we should be on the lookout for now that Jackie and the Darkness are (at least for the moment) splits?
PH Lots of old faces show up to make my last arcs memorable. I won’t spoil it any further. Baddies worthy of Jackie’s full attention.
Geek: Has any of your writing on the series been impacted by the upcoming game? How about vice versa?
PH: No. I’m sort of sealed off from outside influences until I hit #100, where I wrap up my run. The Darkness in the video game is sort of the character everyone is familiar with. The character in my book is growing beyond that gangster with a power-ring thing.
Geek: Could you tease a couple of your favorite moments from the next arc?
PH: Jackie fights zombies (for real). We see the return of a long lost member of Jackie’s extended family. We see what The Darkness armor looks like when shaped by other wielder’s imaginations. Some artifacts (no pun intended) introduced during my run are finally put to full use. Jackie has the ultimate encounter with the whole “kid on an airplane kicking the back of your seat” phenomenon. And we see Mr. Estacado meet the very soul of The Darkness for the first time in a meeting that I guarantee will prove fatal for either Jackie or the rest of the world.
The Darkness is on shelves now and issue #91 will be available on May 25th.