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Comic Book / Darkhawk

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Dawn of the Darkhawk!

Darkhawk is a Marvel Comics superhero comic book published from 1991 to 1995, with an extra bonus issue published in 2017. It lasted fifty issues, with all issues (aside from the 2017 one) written by Marvel writer and editor Danny Fingeroth, although the character was created by Marvel writer and editor Tom DeFalco and artist Mike Manley.

Chris Powell was a young teenager who, after witnessing his father accepting a bribe from a local mob boss Phillipe Bazin, ran away to an abandoned amusement park where he found a mysterious amulet. The amulet allowed Chris to change into the form of a powerful android he nicknamed "Darkhawk." While Chris controlled Darkhawk, though, his own body stayed in a place called "Null-Space."

As Darkhawk, Chris fought against the Hobgoblin, Savage Steel, and Portal, and fought side-by-side with Spider-Man and Captain America. He also fought with the New Warriors and West Coast Avengers.

The book ended at issue #50, with a bonus Marvel Legacy issue #51 in 2017, written by Chris Sims and Chad Bowers. In it, the later retcons done in War of Kings were incorporated into Darkhawk's backstory, where the amulet is actually an artifact from the Fraternity of Raptors, an ancient race of space pirates, and Chris must stop two of them from invading Earth.

In 2021, a special one-shot, Darkhawk: Heart of the Hawk, was released with three stories, one from Danny Fingeroth showing Chris during his early days as Darkhawk, one from Dan Abnett from Chris's days fighting in the War of Kings, and one from Kyle Higgins reminiscing about his future before his death.

A Sequel Series was announced in 2021 to be written by Kyle Higgens and art by Juanan Ramirez, with a new character design by Pepe Larraz. It will feature a new person controlling the Darkhawk armor. See Darkhawk (2021) for more info.

Tropes in the 1991 Darkhawk series:

  • Archnemesis Dad: Chris as Darkhawk ends up fighting his own father as Savage Steel multiple times. Neither one knows who the other is, however.
  • Artifact of Doom: The amulets that give the users armor. It was originally commissioned by an alien crime lord named Dargin Bokk alongside five other amulets. Or maybe not, as the War of Kings retcon has it.
  • Brought Down to Normal: When we catch up to Chris in Darkhawk #51, his amulet no longer worked due to the events of War of Kings. He kept the amulet, but decided to become a cop like his dad.
  • Canon Discontinuity: In his final issues, Darkhawk acquired a new suit of armor and new powers (including finally being able to fly on his own). The series was cancelled, Darkhawk disappeared for a few years and when he came back, he was back to his older design with none of his fancy new powers. Also, War of Kings sheds a new light as to the nature of Darkhawk's origins. However, knowing that Talon was simply manipulating Chris now makes the canon even more uncertain than it was before.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Not that Darkhawk was ever light and fluffy, but the revelation that Evilhawk—and by implication, Overhawk—were the armor taking temporary control for a brief period casts a darker pall over the appearances of both.
  • Disappeared Dad: Mike Powell disappeared the night Chris found the amulet, apparently out of shame for taking a bribe. He later shows up as Savage Steel, a supervillain out to kill Phillipe Bazin.
  • The Don: Phillipe Bazin.
  • Don't Tell Mama: The night Chris found the amulet was also the night that he witnessed his police officer father taking a bribe from mob bosses. He tried to keep this information from his mother for years.
  • Evil Counterpart: Since many suits were made, Darkhawk has encountered a few evil armor-users.
    • As mentioned above, Dargin Bokk was the original commisioner of the suits and wore a version himself, complete with plenty of spikes.
    • There was a dimension-hopping mutant named Portal who used the destroyed remains of a suit of armor. Since the suit was in pieces, he couldn't use any of its powers but it didn't stop him from looking like an evil Darkhawk.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Early issues centered around Darkhawk trying to discover how his suit worked.
  • Magitek: The true origin of the amulet and the armor. Technology powered by magic draining the life-force of anyone unfortunate enough to touch them.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: A downplayed example. While the title character has a dark name and appearance, the comic's tone wasn't quite as dark as other examples.
  • Powered Armor: Savage Steel, The Seekers, and of course, Darkhawk himself.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Mild examples. Both the Hobgoblin and Tombstone showed up in early issues as reoccurring villains. In fact, the Hobgoblin was the first super villain he faced. Later, The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants showed up quite a bit despite editors for X-Men comics being very picky about that sort of thing. Even later, Venom, of all people, developed a recurring feud with Darkhawk. Ironically, Darkhawk typically tended to have an easier time against Venom than Spider-Man did, possibly because Darkhawk wasn't psyched out by Venom the way Spidey was.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Broderick Bozin killed his and Allegra's mother in his early days as a serial killer. Allegra never told her father what really happened, partially because her mother was abusive, and partially to protect her brother.
  • Space Pirates: The original idea behind the armors.
  • Where It All Began: The Marvel Legacy one-shot has Chris return to the Happyland Amusement Park and regain control of his armor.
  • Vigilante Man: The original idea behind Savage Steel, a vigilante in powered armor sponsored by The Cabal, a group of vigilante cops wanting to use lethal force against criminals. It didn't work out.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Serial killer Broderick Bozin kills anyone who catches his fancy, including a child in a Bait-and-Switch cliffhanger that implied he killed Chris's brother Jason (he didn't).