For Top Cow's The Darkness, there's some dark days ahead.
In this Wednesday's Witchblade #180, the long-time character the Darkness will be killed by the mother of his child, the Witchblade. For awhile now the popularity of the character has been waning, with his long-running series being cancelled in late 2013 -- but in many ways, this marks the end of something major, that for a time, was on top of the industry.
Created in 1996 by Marc Silvestri, Garth Ennis and writer/editor David Wohl, the Darkness grew quickly from a supporting character in Witchblade to becoming a star on his own in later that year with the launch of his ongoing series. Headlined by Ennis on story and Silvestri on art, The Darkness series was a major hit out of the gate for Silvestri's Top Cow imprint of Image, being a consistent Top 10 seller in 1997.
But they capped it off in a major way when December's The Darkness #11, with the help of 11 variant covers, became the highest selling book of the month and of 1997 in total. 1997's The Darkness #11 sold an estimated 357,006 copies according to Comichron, leaving the next highest seller that month -- a relaunched Avengers #1 by Marvel -- in the dust with nearly twice as many sales. Ironically, that best-selling issue featured the Darkness with his head cut off -- the same fate he has in the upcoming Witchblade #180.
Here is a preview of Witchblade #180, provided by Top Cow: