REVIEW: ‘Darkhawk,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Darkhawk #1

Darkhawk #1 is written by Kyle Higgins, illustrated by Juanan Ramirez, colored by Erick Arciniega, and lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham. It is published by Marvel Comics. High school senior Connor Young is on top of the world: he’s a star athlete at his high school, and his basketball skills have earned him a full-ride scholarship to Empire State University. However, he is soon diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis after a morning jog goes bad. With his world turned upside down, Connor soon discovers a mystical amulet that transforms him into the winged Darkhawk!

Darkhawk is a character that is literally as old as I am; he debuted in the 90’s, which also introduced popular Marvel characters such as Deadpool and Carnage. While the original Darkhawk Christopher Powell has been part of teams such as the New Warriors and the Guardians of the Galaxy, Connor is a decidedly more earthbound character and struggling with his own issues. Perhaps the smartest decision the creative team makes is to hold off on the Darkhawk transition until halfway through the issue. This gives the reader time to connect with Connor and know him as a human being before he becomes a hero.

Higgins’s script uses this time to explore Connor’s life and how his MS diagnosis flips everything he knows upside down. Basketball, the sport that he excelled at, seems out of his reach. The symptoms of MS vary and flare in and out, making things unpredictable. In the end, he remembers a lesson from his father: when change happens, one must meet it head-on. In the same vein as Radiant Black, Higgins populates his hero’s world with a solid supporting cast, including Connor’s dad and his best friend Derek, the latter hiding a rather dark secret that promises to provide plenty of conflict in future issues. And I appreciate that Higgins is also talking to people with MS, as the issue contains a conversation between himself and artist Brooke Pelczynski about living her life with MS. I’ve always said that if you are going to write from a different perspective than yours, it helps to talk to people who’ve lived through those experiences.

Higgins is joined by Ramirez and Arciniega, who give Connor’s Darkhawk a sleeker and more Tokusatsu-inspired work here. X-Men artist Pepe Larraz provided the Darkhawk design, which gives the Darkhawk android a blazing red visor and gauntlet studded with red orbs as well as a more menacing helmet. Darkhawk can also summon claws and wings made of transparent purple energy, which look immensely cool. Their work also doesn’t skimp on the human element, particularly where Connor is concerned. Readers can see the fear and uncertainty in his eyes after receiving his diagnosis, and the onset of MS is depicted as a frightening thing; Connor’s body and even his word balloons stretch and contort into inhuman shape, representing his body slipping out of his control. I seem to say this about nearly every book Higgins has penned, but Ramirez and Arciniega’s first illustration of Darkhawk is a poster-worthy image.

Darkhawk #1 revamps the winged hero for a new generation, giving him a new identity and challenges to overcome. Even if you know nothing about Darkhawk, this comic is worth a read. Between this, Radiant Black, and his work on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and co-writing Marvel’s Ultraman saga Higgins is becoming a master of applying Tokusatsu tropes to the superhero genre; Ramirez is also shaping up to be an artist to keep an eye on.

Darkhawk #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.


Darkhawk #1
5

TL;DR

Darkhawk #1 revamps the winged hero for a new generation, giving him a new identity and challenges to overcome. Even if you know nothing about Darkhawk, this comic is worth a read. Between this, Radiant Black, and his work on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and co-writing Marvel’s Ultraman saga Higgins is becoming a master of applying Tokusatsu tropes to the superhero genre; Ramirez is also shaping up to be an artist to keep an eye on.