“The sole survivor of a world-destroying cataclysm, Raymond Kane finds himself on an Earth much like the one he came from, perhaps a bit worse. Patrolling the streets of Chicago as the vigilante Nighthawk, Kane battles crime, corruption and injustice in a city plagued with escalating racial tension.
Feared by criminals, hated by the police, Nighthawk will save the city from itself, even if he must destroy everything in his path.
A serial killer known as the Revelator stalks Chicago, claiming victims that will only add fuel to the fire of racial unrest, making Nighthawk’s job that much more difficult.”
Nighthawk #2 (Marvel Comics)
Writer: David Walker, Art: Ramon Villalobos, Colors: Tamara Bonvillain
Nighthawk #2 opens uncomfortably, if you are a person of color. We are lead to believe this has happened some months ago after Nighthawk first arrived in Chicago. The scene has a group of young men, at police gunpoint with a second officer administering a bit of “attitude adjustment” with a billy club on one member of this hapless quartet.
The scene is troubling because, growing up a young man of the darker persuasion, the verisimilitude is jarring, especially the officer being unwilling to cease his efforts despite his partner’s protest. Got chills from it.
You already know where this is going, don’t you?
The subsequent violence is both cathartic and satisfying for Nighthawk and for me. As terrible as the scene is, it is a reality in major metropolises all over the United States. Atrocities committed on young Black bodies without the benefit of a night-time, bird-themed avenger.
Nighthawk is shown again doing what he does best, bringing the pain to whomever needs it. While he doesn’t kill this cop like he did the white supremacists last issue, he is only too happy to deliver a beat down personally. This lead-in establishes Nighthawk as completely willing to take on criminal activity no matter whose doing it.
After the bone-crushing and subsequent threatening of the police force, we fast-forward to a story which sounds like something right out of the local newscast. Complete with dirty cops, murdered youth and militarized police ready to explode on an angry public. The artist delivers on this particular scene showing the self-assured smile of a police officer who knows he is not going to do any time.
Back at the Nest, Tilda and Nighthawk are debating the morality of solving this particular problem. I like the tension between the two, I sense a testing of boundaries, Tilda with her hope of unleashing her more psychotic tendencies and Nighthawk with restraining his.
He restrains her and in essence holds himself in check. She enables him with her technology making him a more efficient fighting machine. No good will come from this but I am going to love watching it happen.
Between the police chasing their tails (or intentionally obstructing justice) it is hard to be sure anyone is trying to catch the Revelator, a one man crime wave who if left to his own devices are going to cause the earlier racial powderkeg to explode.
The best scene in the book is the reveal of the relationship between Detective Burrell and Nighthawk and how they became entangled.
Here is where the colorist does her flashback magic: The colors are shifted letting me know this is a flashback but doesn’t jar me out of the scene. The art is energetic and enthusiastic, with strong inks rounding out this scene with Nighthawk saving the detective. The dialog was killing me.
Okay, I know I have waxed on about Nighthawk and skipped over most of the villains and there is a reason for that. The villains are just so mundane. The horror of Nighthawk’s existence is his villains don’t wear costumes.
They wear suits.
And promote Whiteness…er, greatness.
In today’s world, that is just Tuesday. Which is why this book disturbs me so. Nighthawk’s enemies are foes, which in our world, don’t have any effective solutions.
White supremacy, corporate power and armed meth-headed militias roam free in our world almost without restraint. Add corrupt police and this will show you a story where Nighthawk simply can’t win.
Unless he is prepared to become the monsters he finds himself pitted against. David Walker has managed to create a deadly mix of social, cultural and moral quandaries designed to keep even an anti-hero like Nighthawk whirling like a dervish.
VERDICT: Outstanding— 9/10
This second issue has defined the field of battle, has set the pieces into place and shown that no matter how Nighthawk and Tilda approach this tightly-wound Chicago, nothing good can come from this.
The Revelator, seemingly unchallenged, continues to enjoy his victims which can only escalate the tensions. How can Team Nighthawk diffuse this threat without adding unnecessarily to the body count?
Hint: He can’t. Let’s get ready to rumble!
The Answer-Man’s Archives are a collection of my articles discussing superheroes and their powers in relationship to their respective universes. We deconstruct characters, memes, profiles and how superheroes relate to real world culture. You can find other Archives on Quora and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange or at The World According to Superheroes.
Quick and Dirty Reviews are exactly what the name implies. I read it. I liked it. I shared my immediate opinions and kept it moving; so much to write, so little time. You can assume if I took the time to write a review, you might want to take a look at it.
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding.