artifacts2Your Funnybooks with Aron and Paulie hosts are super-excited about Top Cow’s upcoming Artifacts crossover, which began with a zero issue released on Free Comic Book Day and continues with Artifacts #1 this July!

The FCBD issue of Artifacts introduced readers to the 13 Artifacts and mythology of the Top Cow Universe, including The Witchblade and The Darkness, two of the company’s longest running titles. Still, if you’re confused after reading the FCBD issue, hankering for more information, or missed out on the book, your friends at Funnybooks and are here to help get you caught up on what is sure to be an AWESOME comic book event!

We’re going to introduce you to the 13 Artifacts, and their current bearers (what information is currently known, anyway), talk about comics that are involved in the Artifacts crossover that you may not have even known about, and go over some of the key players in the storyline.  This is going to be the best place to come to get yourself prepared for Artifacts!  And not only that, to help cement some of that information in, in the coming weeks, we’ll be holding contests for some of the best Top Cow has to offer, including trades of Witchblade, Darkness, Tom Judge, and more!

Last week, we told you about The Witchblade

This week’s Artifact:

The Darkness, and its current bearer, Jackie Estacado!

Jackie, surrounded by his Darklings
Jackie, surrounded by his Darklings

Jackie Estacado is not a good man.  In fact, he’s really kind of a douchebag.  Adopted at a young age by the mafia, Jackie became a hitman, one of the best.  Not only that, he was good with the ladies.  Like, REALLY good with the ladies.  Little did he know that, when he was young, Sonatine, the leader of the Brotherhood of the Darkness, convinced the Frenchetti crime family to adopt Jackie and turn him into the bastard he needed to be to inherit the Darkness when he turned 21.  Problem is, as the Darkness overtakes him, the Angelus attack, trying to kill both the bearer and the Artifact simultaneously.  They fail, and Jackie inherits the Darkness…and its curse.  Sure, he can use the Darkness to create Darklings, creatures made entirely of Dark that perform his bidding.  He can basically use the Darkness like a Green Lantern uses his ring – he can create constructs and be nigh invincible…as long as it’s dark.  Not only that…this ladies man can NO LONGER HAVE SEX.  That’s right – the second he impregnates a woman, he dies.  Yeah…no more booty.  Which is a shame, considering he develops an uneasy alliance with hottie Sara Pezzini, bearer of the Witchblade.

When Jackie lived in the orphanage as a child, his best friend Jenny was left behind when the Frenchetti’s adopted him – Jackie continued to take care of her but, when he tried to leave the mafia (inspired by a team-up with Batman), Jenny was kidnapped and murdered by the Frenchettis.  Jackie sacrificed himself to get revenge on the family, blowing them all to kingdom come…

…or Hell, where he’s resurrected by the bearer of the Rapture (more on that coming up in a couple of weeks), Tom Judge.

Upon his resurrection, Jackie eventually took over the Frenchetti family himself, but it was short lived as, under control of the Darkness during its efforts to gain an advantage over the Angelus, Jackie impregnates Pezzini.  When it came time for her baby to be born, the Angelus attacks.  With the help of the Magdalena and the Witchblade, now under the control of Danielle Baptiste, they overpower the Angelus, and Sara’s baby Hope is born.

Rare for comics, The Darkness' crossover with Batman actually changed the history of the character forever.
Rare for comics, The Darkness' crossover with Batman actually changed the history of the character forever.

Sound like Jackie’s a great dude, on his way to becoming a hero, right?  Well, kinda…see, after Sara’s baby is born, Jackie leaves the country, not only taking up residence in Sierra Muñoz, but taking the whole country over.  Not only that, with the help of mad scientist Professor Kirchner, he uses the Darkness to create a brand new drug, which he sells and exports all over the world.  And to make matters even weirder, he uses the Darkness to create himself a girlfriend, Elle, who, through the Darkness, gets pregnant.  So yeah, Jackie knocks up two chicks in one year – guess The Darkness forgot to mention certain loopholes.

Jackie’s empire in Sierra Muñoz doesn’t last long – he’s attacked the the US military, insurgents, and Kirchner himself, who convinces the Darkness and Elle to turn against Jackie, taking his powers away.  Elle is killed giving birth to Jackie’s child, a pure being of Darkness who does battle with Jackie (after killing Kirchner), dying when Jackie forces it into the sunlight.  This came at a cost though.

See, Jackie soon comes across the Sovereign, a being capable of inhabiting any statue bearing his likeness.  The Sovereign tells Jackie that he died during the fight his child and, as a result, his soul from his body.  The Darkness revives his body, but his soul had already left, going to Hell, and leaving Jackie in a weakened state.   In return for a number of assassinations (collecting on deals with the devil), the Sovereign would reunite Jackie with his soul.  Jackie’s become a hitman again.

It’s during this weakened state that Jackie finds out his old friend Finnegan, whom he had hired to keep an eye on Sara Pezzini and his child Hope, is in trouble.  As it turns out, Finnegan has become the bearer of another artifact (more on that in a couple of weeks), and, in a battle with two new artifact bearers, Jackie kills the current bearer of the Angelus, leaving it without an owner.

During one of his “hits,” for the Sovereign, Jackie is confronted by an old Darkness user, who explains the power was still completely within him, only held back by his own wish to be without the Darkness.  Jackie soon realizes this to be true – the Sovereign lied to him, using his weakness to force him to do horrible deeds (even for Jackie).  Of course, the Sovereign is immortal…unless you take out any statue in his visage.  Jackie forms a task force, a mini mafia of his own, to take out all of the remaining statues of the Souvereign all over the world.

Jackie is still destroying statues of the Sovereign, and as we go into Artifacts, finds out that his daughter with Sara Pezzini, Hope, has been kidnapped.  Whether Jackie will embrace his destiny as a hero or villain remains to be seen, but, since his creation, he has skirted the line constantly.

Little known fact is that The Darkness was co-created by David Wohl, Marc Silvestri, and Preacher/Crossed writer Garth Ennis!  Want to read more Darkness stories?  Pick up some of the awesome trade paperbacks below!