The Darkness is a comic book by Top Cow Productions, published through Image Comics. The first issue was published in 1996. The comic is about the current bearer of the Darkness power, Jackie Estacado, a mafia hitman.

The Darkness is an ancient power which allows the bearer to create anything he wants, as long as it doesn't get directly touched by natural light. The power is passed on from father to son at the moment of conception. However, the power doesn't manifest itself in the new bearer until he (or she) reaches the age of 21.

The Darkness has a few enemies. First, there is the Witchblade, which is exactly the opposite of the Darkness. There also is the Angelus, which is a fraction of the Darkness power, only altered in a way that it uses light instead of darkness. The Darkness also has a group of followers, who call themselves The Brotherhood Of Darkness, and are led by Sonatine. Although they appear to be his friends, their true motives are to take control over the bearer of the Darkness, and therefor control the Darkness itself.

The regular comic book tells the story of Jackie Estacado, a mafia hitman who works for Don Frankie Franchetti. In the first issue, he reaches the age of 21, and the Darkness manifests itself. After he's gotten used to it, he uses the power to kill his enemies, and since he's a mafia hitman, he has quite a few of them.

But there is one thing in his life that he has to give up: having sex. Since there are no contraceptives that are 100% safe, he cannot have sex, because if he does conceive a child, he will be killed instantly. The only way he can have sex is if he creates a girl with his powers, but that is not easy, as he discovers when he tries.

The first issue was published in 1996. It was written by Garth Ennis (of Preacher fame) and pencilled by Top Cow chief Marc Silvestri. By issue 10, both of them had left, but fortunately the book was left in capable hands. The artwork has always been quite good, although the stories were occasionally below average. Fortunately Scott Lobdell took over, and is heading in the right direction with the storytelling.

The book has spawned a few crossovers and spin-offs. There have been a few crossovers with the Witchblade, a few with Aliens and the Predator, one with Event Comics' Painkiller Jane, and one with DC Comics' Batman. The spin-off title Tales Of The Darkness tells the stories of other Darkness bearers.

The Darkness are a rock band who have been compared with AC/DC, Queen and Spinal Tap, and Kerrang! have dubbed them:

"the greatest rock'n'roll band of the last twenty years"1

The Band Members

The Darkness are:

Justin and Dan Hawkins are brothers from the Suffolk town of Lowestoft. The two of them formed a band at a young age each having taught themselves how to play the guitar. Justin went to university in Huddersfield in 1997 while Dan moved to London "to join a band"2. Dan met and shared a flat in Shepherd's Bush with Frankie Poullain, "an exiled Scot who came from a family of adventurers (he claims his dad was a pirate in the West Indies, his brother a soldier of fortune)"3. The flat became host to regular jam sessions, and they were joined at weekends by Justin and Dan's school friend Ed Graham. Richie Edwards has been a part of the Darkness' entourage since 2003, and while he hasn't the flowing locks sported by the rest of the band he does have 'rock' experience as "a former member of heavy rock legends Onion Trump".4

The Darkness were formed at the very beginning of 2000, with Justin as lead singer, following his karaoke rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody on New Year's Eve 1999. They began by playing Saturday night gigs in North London, and have since gone on to appear at numerous locations including the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2003, Knebworth Park, Carling Live Festival 2003, as well as playing in Germany, Holland and Dublin.5

"If we're talking classic rock prerequisites, The Darkness have got it all. Winged logo: check. Bassist with Charles Bronson moustache: check. Ludicrously, pathologically flamboyant frontman: check. His quieter, better-looking brother on guitar: check."

from The Independent on Sunday, 15 September 2002

The Look

"Justin Hawkins, the first man in 20 years to appear as true pretender to Freddy Mercury’s throne"

from http://www.virtual-festivals.com/festivals/article.cfm?articleid=710

While the general appearance of the members of The Darkness is that of a long-haired typical rock band, lead singer Justin has an unavoidable penchant for Spandex catsuits, often with tassles. In order to keep his garb in top condition, he has three catsuit tailors. During their live shows, Justin often disappears off into the wings to emerge moments later clad in new, different coloured, skintight spray-on-effect attire. For those tour based emergencies, Justin also has "a guy on call 24-hours for any repairs that happen on the road."6

The Sound

Adding to The Darkness’s stadium rock sound and Justin’s already flamboyant stage persona, he also has a striking vocal range which frequently rises up into falsetto. As well as making the songs that bit more memorable, this arguably contributed to the early auditors thinking that The Darkness were a joke band, in the vein of Spinal Tap.

"[Justin] claims that he's most comfortable singing falsetto. The rest of it is a struggle, he says, and reveals how every night his guitar tech helps him warm up in the lower registers, to coax out his masculine side."

from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts

Justin’s falsetto is perhaps best demonstrated in I Believe In A Thing Called Love and Get Your Hands Off My Woman.

The Discography

  • I Believe In A Thing Called Love - Début E.P., released 12 August 2002
    • I Believe In A Thing Called Love
    • Love On The Rocks With No Ice
    • Love Is Only A Feeling
  • Get Your Hands Off My Woman - Single, released 24 February 2003
    • Get Your Hands Off My Woman (clean radio version)
    • Get Your Hands Off My Woman (profane album version)
    • Best Of Me
  • Growing On Me - Single, released 16 June 2003
    • Growing On Me
    • How Dare You Call This Love?
    • Bareback
  • Permission To Land - Début Album, released 7 July 2003
    • 1. Black Shuck
    • 2. Get Your Hands Off My Woman
    • 3. Growing On Me
    • 4. I Believe In A Thing Called Love
    • 5. Love Is Only A Feeling
    • 6. Givin’ Up
    • 7. Stuck In A Rut
    • 8. Friday Night
    • 9. Love on The Rocks With No Ice
    • 10. Holding My Own
  • I Believe In A Thing Called Love - Single, re-released 22 October 2003 on CD, DVD and limited edition 7" picture disc
    • I Believe In A Thing Called Love
    • Makin' Out
    • Physical Sex
    • Video by Alex Smith (DVD only)
  • Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) - Single, released 15 December 2003 on CD, DVD and limited edition, Justin Hawkins-shaped 7" picture disc
    • Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)
    • I Love You 5 Times
    • Video by Alex Smith (DVD only) - also includes video of I Believe In A Thing Called Love (live at Knebworth)
  • Love Is Only A Feeling - Single, released 22 March 2004 on CD, DVD and limited edition vinyl
    • Love Is Only A Feeling
    • Planning Permission
    • Curse Of The Tollund Man
    • Video by Alex Smith (DVD only)

The Awards

Brit Awards 2004 - 17 February 2004

For more information about The Darkness, including their current tour dates, visit http://www.thedarknessrock.com
1from http://www.kerrang.com
2from http://www.thedarknessrock/biography
3from http://www.thedarknessrock/biography
4from http://www.thedarknessrock.com/news
5for a full list see http://www.thedarknessrock.com/live
6from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/3045718.stm
Special thanks to Just_Tom for his helpful comments
A review of a Darkness gig at the Liverpool Carling Academy, December 11, 2003.
Pictures are available here: http://kamps.org/g/?436 (yes, I had a photo pass)

The Rocking Darkness Rock the rocking Liverpool Academy. With Rock.

It all started as a big bright pink spandex-clad joke, but The Darkness, who now seem to have a honest stab at the Christmas number 1 best-selling single, rocked the socks off the audience at the Liverpool Academy on Thursday.

Lead vocalist Justin, his brother and rhythm guitarist Dan, drummer Ed and bassist Frankie make up the quartet known as the Darkness. Launching into their set in silhouettes from behind a silk veil covering the whole stage, it becomes clear that no – this is no joke. From the very first power chord, The Darkness have the 2200-strong crowd in a firm grip. With the Liverpool concert (rescheduled due to a last-second cancellation in November), the Darkness are finishing their tour of the UK.

One would be forgiven for thinking that Justin's painfully high-pitched falsetto voice would be more suitable for training dogs (hey, it is poodle-rock, after all). However, combined with the surprisingly catchy four-chord tunes and a downright intimidating stage presence, the fans are more than willing to forgive their shortcomings and just roll with it. In a music world filled with pretentious “new metal” with musicians who feel they have to be the coolest kids on the block, The Darkness is a delightful counter-weight. The official merchandise thongs in men’s sizes say it all.

Letting the audience choose whether they were to play the “clean” or “dirty” version of Get Your Hands off my Woman unsurprisingly resulted in a barrage of filthy language after the rowdy horde of fans had spoken their mind. There is something to be said about getting several thousand people aged twelve to fifty to scream the F-word at the stage, and being able to revel in it the way the broadly grinning band members did.

The set list included classic hits such as Givin' Up, Friday Night and of course their massive #1 single I Believe In A Thing Called Love, interspersed with random anecdotes and semi-indecipherable rants. The summit of the evening was Justin’s extensively long guitar solo, as he was carried around in the crowd by a group of particularly sturdy bouncers. Anyone who can keep a more or less coherent tapping-and-plucking metal guitar solo going with more than two thousand people trying to touch them deserves respect. Or as Justin said himself: “I am surprised that I got through that with my rings still in my nipples and my balls still in my ballsack. Thank you, guys!”

The last encore, Christmas single Don’t Let the Bells End, followed by a blizzard of “snow” in the form of paper snippets raining down on everybody in the crowd was a worthy finale to a truly memorable concert experience.

It is not difficult to find more skilled musicians – even in the poodlerock genre – than Justin and the rest of the Darkness. Their sheer energy and showmanship, however, lifts the concert experience to a level beyond what most bands could only dream of.

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