MARVEL LEGACY's DARKHAWK #51 Aims To Re-Establish Hero In Modern MARVEL U

"Darkhawk #51" cover
Credit: David Nakayama (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Mike Manley (Marvel Comics)

After 22 years and five months, Marvel's 1990s once-ongoing Darkhawk series returns for one more issue with "Marvel Legacy"'s #51.

Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, and Kev Walker aim to re-establish Chris Powell and Darkhawk into the modern Marvel U, picking up not just on that original series, but also the character's appearances through Loners, "War of Kings," and Avengers Arena. But when you mention Darkhawk, the Fraternity of Raptors aren't far behind, and their current story in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy will also factor into this one-off issue - specifically, aiming to steal Powell's Darkhawk amulet.

Walker comes to this fresh off his run on Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, while Bowers and Sims hail from the similiarly 1990s-tinged X-Men '92. Together, they're looking to turn a 1990s Marvel cult character into mainstream hero a la Guardians of the Galaxy.

Newsarama: Chad, Chris... wha-?! how?! why?! A lot of questions to be asked about this, so how about we start at the very beginning - how were you asked to do this, and what was your initial reaction?

Chad Bowers: I think it was Marvel’s Darren Shan who originally reached out to us about Darkhawk. With Darren, Chris and I have been involved with a few Guardians-related projects in the last year, and we managed to somehow always work Darkhawk into the conversation. So, it was already a well-known fact around the Marvel offices that we love the character, and I'm guessing when they started talking about putting a spotlight on him for “Legacy,” they knew they didn't have to look far to find two boys eager to tackle the ‘Hawk!

Chris Sims: When Chad says “we managed to work Darkhawk into the conversation,” what he means is that pretty much every time we talked to anyone at Marvel, we just straight up asked if we could work on Darkhawk. It’s a book I think we both really have a lot of affection for - it’s one of those runs that I put together back when I was working at the comic shop and read every issue of, and ever since, I’ve thought of him as one of Marvel’s most underrated characters. A great look, cool powers, a sci-fi hook that makes him Spider-Man in space. The question isn’t “why,” my friend. The question is how did it take this long for him to come roaring back!

Nrama: Kev, you're segueing from Doctor Aphra over to do this issue of Darkhawk for “Legacy.” Is it hard to shift like that, or is it good to sometimes change up who and what you're drawing, and who you're working with?

Kev Walker: Well, I get to ink myself on Darkhawk, so that's a plus. Marc Deering's been doing sterling work on Aphra, but it's nice to take a piece all the way through from layouts to finishes every once in a while. I love penciling, but inking is a different set of skills, a different headspace. I'd ink myself all the time, but usually the schedule doesn't allow for it.

Nrama: Can you say what this one-off story in Darkhawk #51 is about?

Bowers: Obviously, we can't tell you much, but more than anything else, this issue is about teeing up Chris Powell and the Darkhawk for this epic, universe spanning adventure that fans have been clamoring for since the original series ended. In the last decade, Darkhawk made some giant steps as a character that moved him out of the alleyways and into the stars, and it's opened the door for a ton of new stories starring a guy I'm betting a lot of readers thought they'd seen the last of.

Credit: Tod Smith/Ian Akin (Marvel Comics)

Nrama: Darkhawk #50 came out in April 1995. This is technically the next issue, but how much will it tie into that story in terms of plot and year?

Bowers: Yeah, we're continuing the original numbering, but this is definitely not us telling the second chapter of a story from 20-something years ago. What we're doing is firmly set in the here and now, the Marvel U of today. But with that said, I know we felt like it was important to touch on the entirety of Darkhawk’s history, and acknowledge Chris Powell’s past, while not getting so bogged down that we stalled out his future.

Sims: When we started pitching, we had a long talk about whether we wanted to just pick up right where Darkhawk #50 left off back in ‘95, especially one particular element from that original series that never got a proper resolution - and any ‘Hawk-heads out there might be able to guess what I’m talking about. The more we got into it, though, the more we realized that Darkhawk actually has been through a lot in the past 20 years. Loners, “War of Kings,” Avengers Arena. We wanted to build on all of that, and do something that would feel like the next chapter of the story, not just a throwback.

Nrama: Kev, Darkhawk debuted while you were doing Harlem Heroes for 2000 AD. What's it like helping revive this character and modernize it in a way?

Walker: Thanks for reminding me that I'm old. I was inking the pencils of the sorely missed, late, great, Steve Dillon back then, just learning the ropes. Reviving a character like Darkhawk… well that's a question probably best answered once I've done it, but I hope I'm going to do something everybody likes, I'm certainly excited to be doing it. I've always felt more at home with the cosmic side of the Marvel universe. It can be a challenge, but it's certainly not as intimidating as some characters. The pressure on whoever gets to revive a character like Wolverine is massive by comparison.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: The Fraternity of Raptors have been showing up in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy recently - how much of their current exploits will be integral to this issue?

Bowers: This All-New Fraternity of Raptors are a wicked bunch, aren't they? And as we've seen in recent issues of Guardians, their reach is expanding, and their influence growing across the galaxy. Without giving too much away about what we have planned, I can say this - as the only human to fully tap into the Raptor’s powers and survive, Chris Powell seems like a guy they'd probably be interested in.

Nrama: Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, how is Chris Powell, a.k.a. Darkhawk doing right now in Marvel continuity?

Bowers: The last place we saw Chris and Darkhawk for any length of time was in the pages of the Avengers Arena (love that book), and things didn't end so well for him there.

Credit: Kev Walker

Nrama: And Kev drew some of Avengers Arena.

Bowers: Yes! We're leaping ahead in time just a little bit, and giving ourselves a nice, clean slate to build off of, so to answer the question, Chris is basically wherever we need him to be at the beginning of our arc. A big chunk of this issue is spent catching up with Chris, and establishing where he is in life. I'm guessing most people will be surprised by how much he's changed since the last time you saw him.

Sims: Chad and I were both big fans of Runaways, and when Chris Powell showed up in that book as part of the Loners, there was this idea that he wanted to move past being Darkhawk and do something else with his life. That’s a part of his character that we wanted to play with, and to see what happens when that choice is taken away from him.

Nrama: Kev, as we mentioned you drew Darkhawk during Avengers Arena. But have you had a chance to begin refamiliarizing yourself with Darkhawk's unique character design?

Walker: It's a bit of a balancing act really. I don't want to be influenced too much by what's gone before, so it's not like I'm going to sit down and start reading the Darkhawk back catalogue. I'll look up whatever's pertinent to this book, find reference where needed, then just see where the art takes me. It's not like I have a great deal of lead-up time, just two or three days between finishing Aphra and starting Darkhawk, so lots of the style/design choices will be made as I go.

Nrama: Could you see Darkhawk becoming more of a major player in Marvel Comics after this one-shot?

Sims: “Major player” is kind of the wrong word. As readers, Chad and I are both drawn to the characters on the fringes, the ones who deal with the weirder threats to the world. That’s where I think Darkhawk’s been for the past two decades, hanging out on those fringes, and that’s where some of the most fun stuff in comics happens. Then again, sometimes, those fringe characters end up becoming major players after all. Just ask the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Nrama: You two have Kev here on art. You're known for working with very proficient, stylized artists. How are you working to use his talents best with your script?

Credit: David Nakayama (Marvel Comics)

Sims: I don’t think either of us could ever overstate how lucky we’ve been with the artists we’ve worked with at Marvel. Scott Koblish, Alti Firmansyah, and Cory Hamscher on X-Men ‘92, Leonardo Romero on “Damage Control,” cover artists like Pepe Larraz and David Nakayama (who’s also back doing a cover for Darkhawk!), colorists like Mat Milla, Miroslav Mrva, and Tamra Bonvillain, and, of course, Rob Liefeld himself on Deadpool: Bad Blood. Kev Walker is another one of those dream-come-true artists to work with. We’ve been fans of his for years, and seeing him lend his style to Darkhawk is amazing. There’s nobody - nobody - who does better with the kind of expressive over-the-top action that we’re going for here. We just hope we can keep up!

Nrama: Kev, what made Darkhawk a one-shot you wanted to do?

Walker: To be honest, the timing just worked out right. I was taking a break from Aphra anyway, and editor Charles Beacham was looking for an artist. But change is good. You can get stuck working a certain way, and a different title, especially a one shot, gives you the opportunity to try new things.

Nrama: Last question, what does "Legacy" mean for this one-shot and this character?

Walker: I've yet to sit down with final script, but from what I've read so far, it's not a reboot, or a retcon, but a continuation. Picking up where Darkhawk was left after a few years. The universe has has moved on, but some heroes can't help getting back into the fight. You can take Chris Powell out of Darkhawk, but you can't take the Darkhawk out of Chris Powell. No, wait, that's just cheesy. What do I know, I just draw the pictures.

Sims: Basically, we want everyone else to see why we think Darkhawk’s so damn cool. Our goal here is to give Darkhawk a new place to start, and a new place to go. To re-establish who he is and what he does. It’s a tall order for twenty pages, but who knows? Maybe we’re not quite done with the Powell just yet!

And here is the solicitation for this "Marvel Legacy" one-shot:

The RETURN Part 1 (OF 1)
Years ago, Chris Powell discovered a mysterious amulet that allowed him to transform into the spacefaring gladiator known as DARKHAWK. With his newfound edge against crime, he stood against some of the most extreme threats the Marvel Universe has to offer! Now, when two members of the Fraternity of Raptors descend on New York with designs on stealing the amulet and returning it to the stars, it’s not Darkhawk who has to rise to the challenge…it’s Chris Powell!

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