Day 8 of 28 Days of Black Super Heroes, today’s hero is the Marvel Comics’ character Nighthawk.
First of all, the previous link is the Wikipedia link to Nighthawk. Normally I’d like to start out with the official link, but the official link is completely devoid of well, anything. Go ahead, check:
Damn, y’all. That’s messed up. That’s cold. Real cold. A character this good deserves more than a blank, desolate page buried in the recesses of the Marvel Universe Wiki.
Nighthawk fans UNITE! Somebody rectify this, man. Get an editor, or something. Somebody get Stan Lee, or God or somebody.
But anyway that’s a struggle for another day, let’s get to the juicy details here.
WHO IS HE?
Nighthawk is Kyle Richmond, a wealthy businessman who exists on an alternate Earth than the normal Marvel heroes we’re used to.
This means he doesn’t interact with Spider-Man, Captain America or Wolverine -and yet he does have a tenuous connection to them.
This particular Nighthawk is like a copy of a copy type of character.
The first Nighthawk wasn’t Black, and he was a member of a super team called the Squadron Supreme.
These guys were from yet another Earth (also not the same one as Spider-Man/Wolverine), and the first thing you notice about them is that they’re a blow by blow knock-off of DC’s Justice League, and Nighthawk would obviously be Batman.
Side note: An excellent story with the original Squadron Supreme (Affiliate Link) came out in 80’s. In this one the Squadron decide it’s in the best interest of the world that they take over the world. Good stuff, definitely recommended.
But back to the Nighthawk we’re discussing today. He’s a member of a different Squadron Supreme.
This Kyle Richmond, while still a rich, savvy businessman, is also a pretty angry brotha.
Except he’s not angry over some bullsh*t, he’s angry over the plight of black people, poor people who need help and the otherwise downtrodden of society.
All this coupled with being extremely intelligent and somewhat arrogant makes him appear to be kind of an asshole.
One of the most memorable scenes is when another member of the Squadron, the super-speedster known as Blur, meets Nighthawk for the first time.
Blur (Stanley Stewart), is also black, and because of his superhuman speed he’s a celebrity who has many product endorsements. Stanley is very excited to meet big businessman Kyle Richmond because he looks up to him as a role model, but Richmond completely unloads on Blur right out of the gate, accusing Stanley of cooning and racial buffoonery.
Wow. I really didn’t expect that. It seemed real. Here were some very well fleshed-out black characters with intelligence and, well, coolness.
It didn’t take a black writer to do this, either. J. Michael Straczynski really turned the Squadron Supreme story on it’s head, and I think Nighthawk was his greatest (re)creation.
SUPREME POWER: ALWAYS ON TOP OF THINGS
Man, the best thing about Nighthawk? He ain’t no punk. In the Squadron Supreme: Hyperion vs. Nighthawk mini-series, we see that Nighthawk has repeatedly broken the bones of his hands so that when they heal they’ll solidify even harder and denser, making his punches even more devastating. Now that’s bad-ass.
I sure as hell ain’t breaking my hands.
In Supreme Power, he’s always on the move, putting street pimps and other punks in traction, and he immediately sees the game being played with Hyperion (the “Superman” of the group) by the government.
Another great thing is that he constantly shames people into doing the right thing.
He tells Blur he needs to be using his abilities to help people, and he also tells Hyperion to get his head out of his ass and help him to stop super-powered serial killer Redstone, who Nighthawk had discovered was using his super-strength to brutally murder black prostitutes (EPIC battle there, folks).
In the Supreme Power: Nighthawk miniseries, he goes up against his “Joker”, a clown-motiff serial killer called Whiteface, who is poisoning Chicago with some bad drugs.
Pretty awesome stuff, especially the way Nighthawk solves the problem. Dude is THE MAN.
In Nighthawk #1, he leaves a racist graffiti artist to the mercy of the boyz n’ the hood. Not exactly a Batman maneuver:
After the events of Supreme Power, all the various heroes (Hyperion, Blur, etc.) are rounded up into the official government sanctioned and controlled “Squadron Supreme” program. Well, everyone except Nighthawk.
In a great scene, the general in charge of the program is asking for updates on the whereabouts of Nighthawk:
So you can see that didn’t turn out well…
MORE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
After J. Michael Straczynski left the title, the magic kind of slipped away unfortunately. There came a time when the Squadron met another alternate Marvel Earth team called The Ultimates in the series Ultimate Power
Obviously this wasn’t a solo Nighthawk outing, but he kind of got lost in the crowd there. In a major super-power throwdown, somebody like Nighthawk doesn’t get that much spotlight. It’s understandable, but that series was pretty lame. It could have used some more Nighthawk.
THE WRAP UP
I really dig this character, but I don’t think he’s in print right now. I’m not sure if there’s anything with him coming up on the horizon.
It’s a shame, too, because this is the type of character that needs to be in print every month. Nighthawk’s a smart, ultra-competent bad-ass character. He’s like Batman, in that he doesn’t get played like a fool.
Even though he comes off as an asshole a lot of the time, the other characters know this guy is on top of things, and that he does have reason to be as arrogant as he is.
I’m guessing sales didn’t warrant it, but if they put out a monthly Nighthawk series I’d buy it without fail. Well, depending on who wrote it, that is. There are some writers I won’t read no matter what character it is.
Maybe if they get Straczynski or Daniel Way back, or maybe Ed Brubaker. That would be cool. Somebody tell Marvel to get on that!
So that will wrap up Nighthawk, and I’ll leave you guys with a look at the raw pencil art I drew up. See you tomorrow for the next superhero!