The first issue of the Heroes Reborn story suggested that of the Squadron Supreme, Nighthawk alone may have realized the world was “wrong”. This issue, focusing on the Batman stand-in, doesn’t quite agree with that, but it does make Nighthawk closer to Batman in many ways, and it suggests that he at least may be a little concerned about what’s going on.
Issue: Heroes Reborn #5, June 2021
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: R.M. Guera and Ed McGuinness
The Plot: Congressman Kyle Richmond swings into action as the nocturnal vigilante Nighthawk when the inmates of Ravencroft Asylum riot.
Commentary: Prior to this storyline, Nighthawk, either in his superhero identity or as Congressman Kyle Richmond, got the most attention of this Squadron Supreme in the pages of Jason Aaron’s Avengers run, having Nighthawk and the Black Panther constantly butting heads as they one-upped each other over and over, not through fisticuffs, but simply through plotting and counterplotting. The Panther usually came out on top, with each saying they had neutralized the latest attack by the other, but that was about it. The other four members of the Squadron were basically just there and doing Phil Coulson’s bidding.
But here’s Nighthawk, running off to this rewritten reality’s take on Arkham and leaving a Life Model Decoy of himself to finish a speech on the floor of the Capitol. He has a cave and a car and a dead sidekick (Sam Wilson, the Falcon, makes an appropriate Robin if anyone does). The issue also reveals that a (revealed to be powerless in a tie-in issue) Luke Cage is basically Commissioner Gordon and Gwen Stacy goes by “Nightgirl”. Norman Osborne then would seem to be the Joker while the “Black Skull”–basically the Red Skull with the Venom symbiote–could be a Two-Face. The Ravencroft inmates running amok seem to consist largely of Spider-Man’s enemies with a couple others tossed in for good measure like Bullseye, Sabertooth, and, of all people, Moon Knight.
Oh, and Deadpool is in there as Harley Quinn. It’s Deadpool, so it isn’t even subtle.
At this point in Aaron’s mini-series, there’s a lot happening but the central storyline is going on in the background. Everything on display for the lion’s share of each of these stories has been to focus on the individual Squadron members and what their deal is in this rewritten universe. I am actually fine with that because I know this is only temporary and at some point everything will revert back somehow. So, why not take a tour of this different world, and the way that Aaron has for the most part remade the Marvel Universe into some sort of slightly eskewed version of the DC Universe, using only existing Marvel characters and concepts? It’s not like Aaron invented the idea of a dark vigilante with a private signal and a connection to a police commissioner. Instead, he took what already existed and fixed it to look more like that.
That said, some of these Squadron members come across more like a certain Crime Syndicate than anything else.
The point is, the main issue is mostly setting up Nighthawk’s whole deal for a temporary universe. There is an update on the Avengers, this time showing a bit of the Black Panther and what he’s been doing, but again, that’s only in the last three or four pages.
As for tie-ins, there’s a Luke Cage special that shows where Matt Murdock ended up in this world, and my personal favorite, a “classic” Nighthawk issue showing how the Falcon died, written by Tim Seeley and drawn by Dan Jurgens very much in the style of an old Marvel comic, complete with notes at the bottom urging the reader to check out Squadron universe titles that don’t exist. All in all, a good batch this time around.