I’ve mentioned before how every so often Marvel attempts to create a new Spider-Man, that everyday teenager that gets superpowers and has to deal with it while still going to school and doing what normal teenagers do. There was Nova in the 70s, Speedball in the 80s, and the 90s gave us Darkhawk.
Could there be a more 90s name for a character than Darkhawk?
For a name that…grim…Darkhawk wasn’t really that awful a person at first glance. Truth be told, in his earliest appearances, the darkest part about the guy was his name. After seeing what looked like his policeman father taking a bribe at an abandoned amusement park, New York high schooler Chris Powell found an amulet in the garbage one day and when he came in contact with it, he found his body transformed into that of Darkhawk. Still containing Chris’ basic decent human qualities, Chris as Darkhawk had superstrength, a grappling hook built into one arm, wings with some sharp razors built in that allowed him to glide but not fly, and the amulet in his chest could fire off a blast of energy or manifest a shield to protect himself with.
As it is, Chris also learned rather quickly that the face under the helmet wasn’t his own. Darkhawk’s face was, apparently, horrifying. So horrifying it was like a weapon of last resort. Most anything that wasn’t completely evil would cringe in horror at the sight of Darkhawk’s face, and the reader never saw it since it was that awful.
As Darkhawk, Chris fought crime and teamed up with just about every superhero in New York. He was not quite a member of the New Warriors, and a provisional member of the West Coast Avengers…wait, I thought he lived in New York?
So, what was the deal? Well, when Chris activated the amulet, he didn’t turn into Darkhawk so much as his consciousness would stay in one place and his body would swap with an android one. There actually were other Darkhawks out there, including the bad one creatively named Evilhawk, and Chris seemed to be the last one. One adventure had him on a mental plane of existence where the enemies were other, lost Darkhawk amulets. And, as time progressed, Darkhawk gained new powers as he became more comfortable with the ones he already had, starting with flight.
But like many such heroes, he eventually faded into the background and disappeared. Then, one day, he met another Darkhawk named Talon and learned there was a Fraternity of Raptors that did a job similar to the Nova Corps, but more effectively according to Talon. That sounded good, so Chris joined up only to learn the Raptors were, well, evil. And the armor had a mind of its own. Chris had been experiencing bouts of rage lately, so when Talon tried wiping out his memory to leave Razor the Raptor in control, that would seem to suggest Darkhawk was now an Evilhawk, especially since the original Evilhawk may have been a figment of Chris’ imagination since…well, luckily…humans being a less evolved race were a bit of an outside mystery to the Raptors and they couldn’t quite take control of them.
You know, a lot of sci-fi often plays with the idea that humans can do things because they’re special. This may be one of the rare instances where humans can do things because they aren’t.
So, now, Darkhawk has a purpose to wipe out any other Darkhawks out there. That’ll do for a start, I suppose. That sounds better than just having a horrible face.