Issue(s): Darkhawk #7, Darkhawk #8
The fact that Darkhawk struggles with the decision to kill is actually the core element of the book, and so this book isn't just a strange meeting place between the two opposing themes of Marvel at this time; it's a place where writer Danny Fingeroth struggles to consolidate them. Basically this book is kind of like What If Peter Parker Grew Up in the 90s? The expectation is that Peter Parker still wouldn't resort to killing, but it may be less of an obvious decision than in the 60s, when the question wasn't even considered. But you still expect him to get there, and that's really what we expect of Chris Powell, too. The problem is that this book obviously wants the sales associated with the Wolverine/Punisher trend, so it's not that easy to come to a conclusion. In the meantime, Chris deals with a lot of angst and a lot of anger and has violent tendencies.
In case we weren't getting the theme of the book, this arc lays it out as plainly as possible, by having Chris find a secret journal of his father's, where an entry ends with his father having to choose between helping a victim of crime or going after the perpetrator.
But what i really wanted to talk about with these issues is how a situation with Chris' friends illustrates the dichotomy between the two poles at Marvel. Yes, Chris does have friends. And even a girlfriend! We've only seen them in a few panels in the earliest issues of this series, which tells you how much time is really spent developing Chris' civilian life. But they're back in this arc, and they are upset about having been left out of the plot for so long.
One of Chris' friends is the ridiculous Headset, who loves listening to classical music on his headphones.
Nothing more Silver Age than a one note quirky character for a friend. And nothing more 90s than having him get shot by stray bullets during a fight between some heavily armed drug dealers and a violent and out-of-control Darkhawk.
Chris does try something novel to keep Headset alive. He takes off his Darkhawk amulet, hoping to transform Headset into Darkhawk so that Headset can be put in limbo while he's taken to the hospital. But it doesn't work, because (it's said) Headset isn't conscious and can't will himself into becoming Darkhawk.
Any further attempts to help Headset are interrupted by the arrival of Lodestone. We saw Bazin mention a Project Lodestone in the previous arc, and this is the result: a super-powered woman with magnetic powers that is working for Bazin. Bazin has a device that causes Lodestone pain, but he uses it more when she goes out of control with rage than to keep her in line. Lodestone apparently has emotions. Gotta keep those under control, ladies.
Chris was trying to turn Headset into Darkhawk when Lodestone shows up, so she's not aware that Chris is DH (i'm allowed to abbreviate Darkhawk to "DH" because they do so on the cover of issue #8). But Lodestone starts going crazy and hurting people in the area while trying to find Darkhawk, so Chris is forced to leave his friend's side to become DH to stop here. That would seem like a decision with major implications, but an ambulance shows up to take Headset away seconds after he leaves.
Lodestone is what, the third? fourth? character with magnetic powers, so you'd think i'd be pretty bored with her. But i have to admit, seeing her do mundane things with her magnetism like throw trash cans and bend lampposts made me a little nostalgic. Magneto's magnetism has basically become telekinesis at this point, so seeing someone actually use their magnetism to do (relatively) simple things is kind of nice.
The fight between Darkhawk and Lodestone threatens to cause more damage to civilians in the area, and Darkhawk's moral compass is active for once (note to self: avoid puns about compasses and lodestones), so he allows himself to be captured to end the fight. Lodestone tries to use her powers to pull off Darkhawk's amulet, but the effort threatens to kill Darkhawk, and Bazin has to use his device to help Lodestone regain control of her emotions again. Darkhawk is therefore brought back to Bazin as a captive.
While in captivity, we get confirmation that Bazin's hold on Lodestone is not just about the pain device.
Weirdly, Darkhawk suddenly starts talking like he drew a conclusion from his dad's diary.
That's... not how i read it, unless Chris went back and read the rest of the journal when we weren't looking.
While Darkhawk is being held prisoner, Bazin's daughter Allegra wanders into the area, distracting literally everyone, so that no one is left guarding DH.
Not one guard left with your super-powered prisoner, Bazin? What kind of operation are you running?
Darkhawk uses the opportunity to change back into Chris to see if that will let him slip out of his bonds. It doesn't work, but he finds that when he transforms back into DH, he gains a sudden burst of strength.
And Darkhawk is able to escape thanks to Allegra, who uses the pain device on Lodestone for reasons not yet explained.
An epilogue shows Chris' mom working with a private detective, Harry Lennox, to try to find her missing husband. After Mrs. Powell leaves, we see Lennox talking to someone on the phone saying that she is being too insistent and she has to "be taken out of the picture".
While i think this comic is interesting in how it shows how the different sensibilities of Marvel at this time intersect, if you're not looking for that kind of this this is just a decidedly average comic. Fingeroth's scripting is mediocre, Mike Manley's art is fine but nothing noteworthy, and the plot is basic. It's not bad, exactly. You just walk away going, "yep, that was a comic book".
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAllegra Bazin, Cheryl Colon, Darkhawk, Dr. Marin, Grace Powell, Jason Powell, Jonathan Powell, Lodestone, Phillippe Bazin, Savage Steel (Harry Lennox), Steve 'Headset' Rubino
A slightly darker Spiderman comic. I think the popularity of the Punisher influenced the tone of the book more than anything else.
Posted by: Grom | October 28, 2015 8:36 PM
Over at the Marvel Appendix site, it was brought up that Lodestone is yet another person with magnetic powers who seems to be mentally unstable. I agree that it'd be cool if it was made canon that magnetic powers have the side effect of destabilizing the user's brain...
Posted by: Piotr W | October 29, 2015 3:55 PM
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