Comic Book / Shadowhawk

Shadowhawk was one of the original seven comic lines produced by Image Comics, written by Jim Valentino. The titular character first appeared in a back-up story in Youngblood, issue two.

The first series followed Paul Johnstone, an African-American district attorney who refused to fix a case for mobsters and was infected with HIV, which later developed into fullblown AIDS. Despite this, he refused to give up and took up the path of a vigilante, forming an alliance with a suspended female cop and using a combat exoskeleton and special drugs to try and slow the infection and give himself the strength to fight crime. Eventually, the disease killed him.

The second series revealed that Paul was merely the host of a "Spirit of Justice" and this entity later chooses a successor in the form of a young high school student named Eddie Collins.

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This comic book series provides examples of:

  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Aside from his name, the hawk motifs are pretty subtle.
  • Anti-Hero: The first Shadowhawk would shatter the spines of criminals, so as to ensure that they would be punished "properly". He mellowed out towards the end of his lifespan.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The second Shadowhawk gets a skin-tight outfit that increases his strength, speed and stamina, which manifests when he puts on the Helmet of Huru (called "Nommo").
  • Crossover: The first Shadowhawk teamed up with Vampirella. The second one, along with a few other Image heroes, teamed up with the Knothole Freedom Fighters and Knuckles the Echidna.
  • Evil Counterpart: Hawk's Shadow, a racist lunatic who believes the Shadowhawk name belongs to him. Unaware that Shadowhawk is African-American, he assumes they share a goal.
  • Handicapped Badass: The first Shadowhawk was dying of A.I.D.S, yet still went toe-to-toe with the likes of The Savage Dragon and similar superfreaks.
  • I Work Alone: Subverted. The first Shadowhawk not only actively enjoyed fighting alongside the WildC.A.T.s and Young Blood, but lamented that his desire to find a cure had kept him from ever being able to join a superheroing team.
  • Power Armor: The first Shadowhawk and his "hawk-themed" exoskeleton, which augmented his strength and agility (especially vital as his disease ate away at both) and covered him in bullet-proof armor plating, as well as having wrist-mounted retractile spikes to use as melee weapons and grappling hooks, with infrared lenses in the helmet.
  • Retcon: Between the first and second Shadowhawk.
  • Retroactive Legacy: Even before the Retcon of Shadowhawks thoughout history, Paul took the name from a previous superhero (a parody of the Silver Age Batman). This led to the SA Shadow-Hawk's ex-sidekick becoming Hawk's Shadow.