Jackie Estacado is the Darkness and has to bear the burden of what that means. With the recent events in ARTIFACTS and the Rebirth of the Top Cow Universe, there is the chance for things to be different for Jackie. Taking over from Phil Hester's near five-year run (see his recent interview here), David Hine has taken over the reigns to bring the Darkness along in this new but somewhat familiar universe.
With THE DARKNESS #101 on sale today, we took the opportunity to ask David a few questions on what his planned for Jackie.
Comic Vine: Who came up with the idea for Jackie's version of the universe, you, Phil or Ron?
David Hine: The core story was the 13-part epic that Ron Marz wrote for ARTIFACTS. From the start the plan was for the story to culminate with Jackie destroying the universe in order to save it, and that led into the concept of Rebirth that has had repercussions for the whole Top Cow line. About a year ago I was told by the guys at Top Cow that Rebirth was happening and that Phil Hester would be leaving The Darkness at issue 100 and I was asked to pitch a story that would follow on from Artifacts and the last year of Phil’s run. So everything that happens up to that point is all Ron and Phil, but everything that happens to Jackie beginning with issue 100 is built on that pitch.
CV: How does it feel to take over after Phil's long run?
DH: It’s a little intimidating because I love what Phil did with the title and he has left on a high note with Jackie finally confronting the embodiment of the Darkness in that stunning last issue. I’ve tried not to worry too much about competing with what has gone before because THE DARKNESS has been such a strong book throughout its whole existence. A lot of brilliant writers have worked on the book and each has left his mark. I’m setting out to tell the best story I can. I have one of the best characters in comics to play with in the form of Jackie Estacado and a clean slate to make my mark on, and I’m working with one of my favorite collaborators. I worked with Jeremy Haun at DC and enjoyed that very much. Now he’s doing possibly his best work ever on this book, so I couldn’t be happier.
CV: What do you have planned for Jackie?
DH: We’ve given Jackie everything he ever wanted. He has been able to bring his lost love, Jenny Romano, back from the grave, they have the perfect child, they’re wealthy and apparently happy. But Jackie has played God to get what he wanted and there’s a price to pay for that. His perfect world will start to fall apart quite rapidly. For a long time, Jackie has been the man with nothing to lose and now he has everything to lose. The story I’ve plotted for the next couple of years will follow the process of a mind in torment. On one side there’s a lot of psychological horror, which will explore the area of madness and mental disintegration, while on the physical side we’ll see cracks opening in Jackie’s new world that allow an unseen and ancient horror to seep out. This is a world that has remained hidden for centuries. It involves powerful forces that are older than even the Darkness.
CV: How long will Jackie be able to keep the fact that he reshaped the world a secret?
DH: As the flaws become more serious it will harder for Jackie to hide what he has done. He’ll be fighting to keep control of his gangland empire, of the Darkness and of the enemies who are literally coming out of the woodwork. In the Artifacts ongoing monthly we’re already seeing that Tom Judge is harboring suspicions about the anomalies he’s seeing all around him. In WITCHBLADE there have been signs that Sara Pezzini is experiencing a strange sense of loss and that relates to the fact that in this new version of the universe, Hope is the child of Jackie and Jenny not of Jackie and Sara. Taking her child away from her is a terrible thing to do, even if she has no conscious memory of being a mother. Some way down the line there is going to be payback.
CV: Will we see familiar enemies or do you plan on bringing a new batch of threats to Jackie's life?
DH: Right now I’m concentrating on creating some new enemies. Initially these are apparently straight gangster bad guys, very much grounded in crime fiction, but with this series, nothing is what it seems – literally nothing. I don’t want to reveal too much because there is more than meets the eye with all these characters and what starts as a local turf war is going to turn into something much bigger. Some of the threats to Jackie will be coming from the inside – from his friends, his family and most of all from within himself.
CV: Does Jenny believe she's Hope's actual mother? Was that part of what was changed when Jackie reshaped the universe?
DH: Absolutely. The intention was that Jackie would reconstruct the universe exactly as it was, except that he goes back in time to kill the Curator before he begins to gather the Artifacts together, but he does that one other thing – he goes further back, to the night of Jenny Romano’s death and saves her. That changes everything. Hope is their child and she’s a few years older. But that’s not all that’s different about her, as you’ll see after a couple of issues.
CV: What about Sara Pezzini? Are there plans to bring her in anytime soon or will we see both titles get settled first?
DH: Both Tim Seeley and myself need to settle into the books we’re writing. We all felt that we needed to establish ourselves and get comfortable with the characters before we start to interweave the plots, so we’re keeping the books very much apart and self-contained in their storylines for at least the first year, but we’re also seeding a few little time bombs into each of the books in preparation for the time when what Jackie has done explodes across the Top Cow Universe.
CV: Will Jackie be turning up in the pages of ARTIFACTS?
DH: There are a few references back and forth between the books to keep everyone aware that there are consequences to Jackie’s actions that are already affecting everything. That is focused for the moment on the Artifacts book where Tom Judge is already starting to have his suspicions and is gathering evidence with the help of Dani Baptiste and Patrick Gleason. Jackie Estacado will make a couple more appearances in Artifacts but that is actually happening before the events of THE DARKNESS #101. For the moment the books stand alone. But we are talking regularly and planning to bring everything together in about a year from now, so if you read between the lines you’ll see all kinds of clues to those future events.
CV: Is it possible for Jackie to have the perfect life he longs for?
DH: Are you kidding? I’m not writing The Waltons here. I’ve been joking that his perfect world lasts for about 2 pages. That’s actually pretty accurate.
Be sure to pick up THE DARKNESS #101, on sale today. Wait until you see how it ends!