Pauldrons, black suit, one-handed Wolverine claws and a Power Rangers-esque helmet and visor. These were the design elements that made up Darkhawk, and Darkhawk #6 is what our esteemed leader, Marty, asked me to read. Was there anything to the character behind his costume? Decidedly: Yes. In the magic space suit was an angry young man. I know, you and I are both shocked. What else was he? Umm. Sometimes wide-eyed, not that we could tell behind his helmet which denied us any ability to connect with him on a human level. Which, I assume since this was the 90s, was a deliberate design decision.
Darkhawk, if you’re unfamiliar (and I was) was one of the most nineties characters to ever grace comic books. This is the story of Christopher Powell, who finds out that his cop dad is on the take from vaguely foreign mobsters. When he gets discovered snooping at the abandoned amusement park (shades of Scooby Doo), he runs into the bowels of said funhouse in order to find a weapon.
Inexplicably, he finds a large red amulet, and as he touches it he transforms into DARKHAWK, the Darkest of all the Hawks! He saves the day, then goes on to launch his career as a superhero, squaring off with the likes of Savage Steel (?), Lodestone (?), and the 1400 Club (Pat Robertson’s gang of assassins, I guess).
So Marty asked me to read Issue #6, and being game I obliged. And…ACCtion heroes, I frequently say that I dipped out of comics in the 90s because I didn’t like the trend towards shallow storylines, and the “grimdark”. Darkhawk is….well, no exception to this rule. Then again? It wasn’t really that grim, nor dark. It was more awkward and strangely paced.
In this issue, Darkhawk is facing off against the U-Foes (finally, villains that I know), who want to kidnap a teleporting guy for some reason. They are thwarted not only by Captain America, who makes the weirdest entrance I’ve ever seen in comics, but also the Man Without Fear, Daredevil!
Why? Because both just sort of happened to be in the neighborhood. That’s…just a thing that happens. I guess. At the end Darkhawk shows us his incompetence (because he’s new to this you see), and his anger issues. It’s a foreshadowing, guys. A DARK foreshadowing.
This wasn’t the worst thing in the world that I’ve ever read, but it sure wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever read either. And now I’m a little peeved that I assigned Marvel Two-In-One #50 to Marty, because he clearly got the better end of that stick.
Last thing: if you’re like me and really disinterested in Darkhawk, but wonder if he was ever interesting, the answer is, surprisingly, yes! As extra credit, I looked him up in the not-frequently-talked about War of Kings storyline (2009), where we discover a dark mentor, a Conspiracy of Raptors, and the ability for Chris to transform his Darkhawk body into a SuperDarkhawk mode. It’s not as silly as I made it sound, even though it strongly reminds me of DC’s Blue Beetle character (Jamie Reyes, not Ted Kord) and has a lot of uncanny similarities (but alas none of the popularity).
In conclusion Darkhawk was launched in 1991, ended in 1995, and was succeeded (in spirit) by Nova (a la The Champions) in the modern era. I don’t recommend reading it unless you’re 13 and somehow reading this from 1991.
Producer Tim’s Kirby Score: .25 (an effort was made).