Jackie Estacado is understandably upset. He has struggled for years upon years with the curse of the Darkness - a curse that, yes, provides him with slick-slicing armor, but also prevents him from impregnating a woman on punishment of death. Unless, of course, it's the Darkness using the host's body to do the nasty... but that's another story altogether.
Most recently, Jackie has found himself manipulated at the hands of the Sovereign, a new nemesis that is perhaps his fiercest yet. At the same time, a mysterious figure called the Foreigner has entered the arena with a glimmer of hope for Jackie - the Foreigner himself is a former Darkness wielder, and he believes he can help Jackie to release himself from the curse. Will Jackie finally be free to live a quasi-normal life?
Not so fast.
In Top Cow's "The Darkness" #79, series writer Phil Hester teams up with artist Jorge Lucas for a special issue that marks a new chapter in Jackie's ever-continuing saga. In the issue, our anti-hero will assemble a squad of brutes, killers and other highly-trained low-lifes with the express purpose of eliminating the Sovereign.
Lucas sat down with CBR News to talk about the issue, his working relationship with Hester, and his overall impressions of "The Darkness" as a whole. Plus, he even offered a glimpse into the issue's script, allowing Jackie Estacado himself to exclusively reveal to CBR readers his plans for the Sovereign.
CBR: Jorge, you've said in the past that Jackie Estacado is your favorite Top Cow character. Can you explain why?
Jorge Lucas: Overall, I like the horror stuff. Darklings, monsters, and all the Marc Silvestri designs from the creatures to the Darkness armor. Jackie isn't a superhero, and this a great touch for a character - he doesn't want to save the world. He's an evil and killer guy with a great curse over him, and also a great power - power in the wrong hands, and I think that's cool!
I also think Jackie is quite sad and has a lot of drama inside. It's a very dramatic story. He is a character with a lot of narrative. I think the stories can be a perfect mix between a thriller and horror genre.
As a fan of the character, what has been your favorite thing that Phil Hester's done with the Darkness so far, and what do you enjoy about working with him?
Phil took Jackie in a more human direction and with a touch of film noir; heavy themes, more realistic stories with a bit of supernatural stuff. Also, Phil is a designer, and this helps to make a story more visually impactful to both the artist and the reader. Phil's work on the scripts is amazing for me. We are both artists and like-minded designers with topics in common, especially in terms of places and characters that are interesting to draw. Perhaps this works best when we are both working as artists as a team. His page sketches are a great help, too, and I am very grateful for that. They're an amazing help, especially coming from a great artist like Phil.
What excited you the most about drawing "The Darkness" #79?
It's a bridge issue, the beginning of a new saga with new characters. Being able to draw this series again is great.
Would you say that your work on the issue is different than past issues you've illustrated?
I don't know if I'd say different, but I'd hope my art gets better with every issue I do.
How would you describe the tone of this issue?
It has a mix of action, horror and a little touch of the supernatural stuff. The whole story has a supernatural background - it's like a ghost... we do not see too much of it, but it's there.
In "The Darkness" #79, Jackie will be assembling a "special team of thieves, smugglers and murderers" to combat the Sovereign. Can you tell us about any of these characters?
All of them are interesting. I enjoyed designing Vike - he's very powerful and I based him on Triple H, the wrestler. Also, it's always a pleasure to draw a nice girl like Kash, who I based on a beautiful and sexy woman such as Alicia Keys.
The Sovereign has become quite the thorn in Jackie's side. What is Jackie's plan to confront him?
Here's a bit from the script, when Jackie talks to his new gang about his plans. He can explain it better than my English!
JACKIE: The fact that none of you have gone running into the street means we picked the right people.
JACKIE: This may seem absurd to you, but we'll spend the next year tracking down and stealing or destroying a number of ancient statues.
JACKIE: These statues are capable of housing the awareness of someone who has cost me a great deal. A man known as The Sovereign.
JACKIE: It's my intention - and your job - to destroy every last one of these vessels.
JACKIE: Our recent acquisition of The Sovereign's property included a ledger detailing the location of these statues.
JACKIE: Our goal is to destroy them all before he can effectively relocate them.
JACKIE: That's it. You have free run of the compound, but only enter the basement in an emergency.
JACKIE: Mr. Tyne will show you to your living quarters. Any time you want to take off just check in with Mr. Kim.
JACKIE: Don't expect to see a lot of me.
JACKIE: As for the lights.
JACKIE: Well, you're going to have to get used to working in the dark.
Will you be drawing the Sovereign in this issue?
Not in this issue, but I have in previous issues. He's a great character in terms of design because he is so surreal - a literal man of stone. He's a dangerous and powerful man in an executive suit, and that is great! It's all a challenge.
What was your favorite part about working on "The Darkness" #79?
Designing the new characters, some of them from designs of other artists. But I created my own version of Jackie's new friends. And of course, there's a little occurrence of Jackie with his armor and all that stuff, so that was very cool!
Are there characters at Top Cow that you haven't illustrated yet that you'd really like to take a crack at?
Witchblade, because she is a very sexy woman who I hope to have a chance to draw more sexy! [Laughs] I also drew Ripclaw in a "Pilot Season" issue, and I would like to draw him again. But all of the Top Cow characters are cool and I would like to create my own versions of them with my style.
Beyond #79, would you like to keep going on "The Darkness?"
Of course. Jackie is my favorite character in Top Cow and I like drawing in a regular series because it's nice to build his world with every issue - and in this way, I can try to do better work in every issue.
What else do you have coming up in the near future?
I'm working on a miniseries By Christos N. Gage. I read the plot and the first script and it's great! I think that it's different than Top Cow's typical themes. I'm also working on a stand-alone "Darkness" story written by Rob Levin, which will delve deep into the horror aspect of "The Darkness."
"The Darkness" #79 hits shelves on August 5 from Top Cow Productions.