I grew up in the 90’s during the comics boom. Like everyone else I was flooded with tons of new characters, epic story lines, flashy covers, and deaths of major heroes. One character that I was introduced to was Darkhawk. My first introduction to him was during the Round Robin story arc in Amazing Spider-Man (issues 353-358 for those that are interested). I really liked that story and I really liked Darkhawk as a character. That led me to pick up his first issue, which I in turn, bring to you now.
Here’s the plot . Chris Powell is a regular kid living in New York. His mother is a prominent lawyer and his father is a police officer. His mother works on cases against the mob which bring undue stress on her and her family. She gets phone calls, bribes, that sort of thing. One day Chris is charged with babysitting his brothers. Well, as a regular teenager he doesn’t want to do that. So he takes off with his friends while his brothers – who are way to young to be staying home – are left by themselves. When young Chris comes back he sees that they are gone and must find them. When he does find them he also stumbles upon his dad taking a bribe from some mob guys. The kids get discovered and as they are running for their lives, Chris stumbles upon this crystal. Using it as a weapon, he is transformed into Darkhawk.
Darkhawk was created by then Editor in Chief Tom DeFalco and artist Mike Manley. I’d also like to give credit to Danny Fingeroth as the writer of this tale. I don’t know what involvement Tom DeFalco had in the creation of Darkhawk but I’m sure it had to do with concept ideas. This, and other characters that came out during this time were when Marvel were trying to add new life to it’s roster. Ghost Rider was revived, Guardians of the Galaxy had come out around this time, Nomad got his own series and had a complete revamp, and also Darkhawk, who was completely brand new. So with all that in mind let’s take a look at the writing first.
Danny Fingeroth’s writing was OK. It just felt like everything was crammed into this first issue. It jumped very quickly from one thing to another and the days that took place, even the hours bled together and made it a little difficult to keep pace with the issue. At some times, it read really well and I could sense myself getting into it. But with a lot of the comics that came out in the 90’s, it also felt way cheesy.
As for the artwork, I really did enjoy what Mike Manley did. It looks gritty and raw. On the opening page, where we see Hobgoblin, everything about him really sticks out to you. Along with the colors, done by Joe Rosa which really bring to life the tone that is attempted by the writing. Lots of dark colors laid over the artwork add to the grim mood of the book.
Darkhawk had a lot of potential. He was used very well in other character’s titles. But when it came to his own, it really fell below the radar. He very well could have been, at best, a B list character, but because of not that great of writing, he was largely ignored. Like other new characters from the 90’s, Darkhawk’s run was to be short lived. His title only lasted for 50 issues, but at least he wasn’t forgotten. He shows up from time to time in other arcs, other one-shots, or like in Marvel Zombies where he survived the first massive slaughter of heroes and villains! (Now I thought that was cool!)
This issue does it’s job. It gives us the origin of Darkhawk. It lays the foundation for future issues and makes you wonder just where in the heck that crystal came from. All of it was a great idea, but it just wasn’t written well enough for it to really matter to anyone. That, to me, is unfortunate. With all the rewrites, bring backs, and start overs of every title out there, why not Darkhawk? I think I’ll call Marvel right now and ask them just that.
Parental Concern: Yellow