The Darkness: Where Do I Start?

The Darkness has become one of two key pillars in the Top Cow universe, working in the shadows and showing that just because you’re evil doesn’t mean you can’t do good. Created in 1996 as a sort of male counterpart to the ultra-popular Witchblade, the Darkness acted as a true flipside to the Witchblade’s street-cop-as-adventurer with the idea of an evil mafia hitman receiving an ancient power that forces him to fight creatures even worse than him.

But for some he’s been pigeon-holed alongside the Witchblade as primarily something pretty to look at but lacking in story, but a string of great writers from Garth Ennis to Phil Hester have bucked that trend. To help right this wrong, iFanboy has put together a concise list of four must-have books if you want to get to know the Darkness.

The Darkness: Origins, Vol. 1: Although he first appeared in Witchblade #10, The Darkness never fully got started until his own series thanks to the unique team-up of Garth Ennis and Mark Silvestri. Seeing the dueling aesthetics of Ennis and Silvestri is quite a show, and it’s that melding that makes the Darkness such a unique character. A mafia hitman who lucks into a family legacy of being possessed by a corrupting supernatural force? Like The Authority, Jackie Estacado is a bad guy but becomes our hero because the forces he faces are even worse than him. Ennis really does a great job of keeping JackieĀ  from turning into a hero while still propelling him into an engaging story.

The Darkness: Lodbrok’s Hand:Part of the charm in The Darkness through the years has been the steady stream of artists following in the footsteps of artist Marc Silvestri with heavily rendered figures and hyper-detailed robots and monsters, but seeing that re-interpreted by Powers artist Michael Avon Oeming in this one-shot really shows how diverse the concept can be. Written by long-time writer Phil Hester, it shows an older bearer of the Darkness going up against vikings and their gods in an excitingly different kind of The Darkness story. This one-shot was later collected in The Darkness: Accursed, Vol. 3, but you can just as easily — and cheaper even- track down this one-shot in the back-issue bins.

The Darkness, Vol. 4: Resurrection: In this storyarc, the Darkness dies. And that’s true, although in keeping with the supernatural elements of the Darkness powers itself it comes back quite quickly. It all starts when Jackie tears down the mafia family that raised him in revenge for the death of a loved one. Struck down in the final moments of his vengeance, Jackie’s death is short-lived as the Darkness shows it’s full potential and dredges him back from the afterlife. Written by Paul Jenkins with rare interior art by Dale Keown, this story-arc really pushes Jackie Estacado and makes him more aware of just how powerful the forces he’s involved with are.

The Darkness: Accursed, Vol. 1: As the character’s longest writer to date, artist-turned-writer Phil Hester came to the book in 2007 bringing a more grounded approach. That’s hard to do when you’ve got a supernatural force like the Darkness on your back, but Hester does it by making it a crime book ala Costa Nostra with the head of the family, Jackie, having to deal with the added pros and cons of carrying the Darkness. Running from his past, Estacado takes over a remote South American nation and begins the process of trying to address the powers he has and the dark road it is leading him down.


  1. Garth Ennis was the only reason I started with this series. Not long after he left the book is when I dropped it!

  2. I am a fairly casual Darkness fan and read a few Top Cow issues every so often. I have read the first trade of The Darkness: Accursed, but was unsure about going on with it. Would anyone recommend it?

    • Pick up Darkness 101, new team see if you like Jeremy Haun’s artstyle (wickedly awesome btw). Since you like Deadpool I think you will enjoy it.

  3. Thanks for posting these where-to-start/must-read books. I don’t collect any Top Cow books, but I’ve been thinking recently about trying some. Yesterday I found the Darkness listing on Wikipedia, thinking that might be a good place to get some background information. After about 5 minutes of reading I was completely lost, so this is a welcome article.

  4. It might sound weird but the first game for Xbox 360 was kind of a great place to start

  5. Good stuff. Just wanna point out though, Witchblade is an even stronger series in my book.

  6. I’ve always been curious about this book.