Following his one-shot return as part of Marvel’s “Legacy” wave, Darkhawk is back in the spotlight with a new Infinity Countdown tie-in series from writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers, along with artist Gang-Hyuk Lee.
Sims and Bowers credit the success of their Darkhawk #51 revival one-shot for their chance to write what they call “the biggest, boldest, wildest Darkhawk story ever.”
Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #1 will put Chris Powell back in action as Darkhawk with power upgrades, new enemies, and new space-faring adventures – all of which Sims and Bowers hope will cement Darkhawk’s place among the modern pantheon of Marvel’s heroes.
Newsarama caught up with Sims and Bowers on the eve of Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #1’s May 23 release to find out what’s in store for the hero they call a “human fighter jet” who is like “if Peter Parker could transform into Snake-Eyes and he was also the Terminator.”
Newsarama Chris and Chad, this is your second time writing Darkhawk since you brought him back with a “Legacy” one-shot. What’s Chris Powell’s status quo going into Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk?
Chad Bowers: After being disconnected from his alter ego for about a year, Chris is once again able to become the Darkhawk. And for the first time since finding the amulet that lets him switch places with a powerhouse android in Null Space, Chris feels like he’s in full control of his life and his destiny! He’s got a loving fiancé, a day job that gives him purpose beyond superheroics (he’s a cop), and now, post-Darkhawk #51, he’s got this mandate from the Darkhawk itself that he’s uniquely qualified for, and in his mind, only he can do.
So when we first catch back up with him in Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #1, he’s pretty damned confident in his newfound abilities, and maybe a little over eager to get into space and tear into the Fraternity of Raptors (more on them later).
Nrama: The two of you are known for your affinity for the 90s thanks to your run on X-Men ’92. Is Darkhawk a character that holds a special place in your hearts?
Chris Sims: Believe it or not, I never read Darkhawk in the ‘90s. It wasn’t until I was working at a comic book store - the same one where Chad hired me back when we were both in our 20s - that I went back and read a lot of the stuff I’d missed out.
A lot of it was stuff from the ‘90s that people had overlooked, the stuff that was old enough that comics had moved past it, but too recent to have a ton of nostalgia. Darkhawk was one of those books, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of #50 to complete the run when it came into the store, because that thing was hard to find!
I read the whole series in about a week, and I loved it. It’s definitely a product of its time, but in the best possible way, with Darkhawk synthesizing all this stuff that was going on then. He’s like if Peter Parker could transform into Snake-Eyes and he was also the Terminator, and there’s nothing about that that isn’t awesome.
Bowers: I might’ve made a custom Secret Wars style Darkhawk figure.
I bought Darkhawk #1 off the newsstand, and it was appointment reading for me for at least those first couple years. I was all-in for the mystery of “Who/What is Darkhawk?”, and grew up speculating about Portal and Evil Hawk. Oh man, and when Darkhawk eventually joined the New Warriors? It was like discovering peanut butter and jelly all over again! I loved it!
Looking back, I know a lot of that was due to Mike Manley’s artwork (back when I was trying to draw, I might’ve co opted his style and his signature for my own “BOWERS”), and then years later, I learned probably some of my most useful writing tips from Danny Fingeroth’s Write Now! Magazine, which I wouldn’t have even picked up if not for his fantastic work on Darkhawk.
Nrama: Infinity Countdown has already introduced the Fraternity of Raptors as major players in the hunt for the Infinity Stones. How does Darkhawk enter the picture directly?
Bowers: In Darkhawk #51, Chris finds out about the Fraternity of Raptors - a cult of fanatics who’ve adopted the methods and appearance of the real-deal robot Raptors. At the same time, he discovers that his own inherent heroism corrupted the Darkhawk android’s programming, causing it to turn against its own kind in Null Space in an attempt to protect our universe from invasion.
So Chris knows they’re out there now, and can’t just sit back and do nothing. On top of that, he’s feels responsible for Darkhawk’s sacrificing any chance of it ever being anything other than a weapon, and he’s not about to let its death be in vain.
Sims: Chris Powell wasn’t directly involved, but the Raptors showing up in Guardians of the Galaxy in the lead-up to Infinity Countdown was definitely something that paved the way for us to bring him back here. It gave us the perfect way to pull Chris back into this world of space-faring superheroics that he thought he might be done with, and in the one-shot, that came in the form of bringing the Fraternity to Earth. Now, we’re taking Chris out to them, but thanks to the Stones, things in space are changing faster than Darkhawk knows.
Nrama: What’s Darkhawk going up against in this tie-in?
Bowers: Despite a few setbacks in #1, Chris still thinks he knows exactly what he’s up against out there in space. But he’s about as wrong as one man can be. The original Raptors are back, and they’re not interested in having a human wearing one of them stand in their way. That said, they’re the least of Darkhawk’s worries. By the time we get to the end of #2, Chris learns the hard way that there’s always a bigger bird.
Sims: Not to reveal too much, but if you’ve liked the stories we’ve done in the past, then you’ll probably get a kick out of the special guest star we drop in #1. Darkhawk sure does!
Nrama: Gang-Hyuk Lee is your series artist. What does he bring to the table?
Sims: We’ve always been incredibly lucky with the artists we’ve gotten to work with, and Gang is another one who’s just blowing us away with every page. I wouldn’t have wanted to step into Kev Walker and Java Tartaglia’s shoes after the incredible job they did with redesigning Darkhawk in #51, but Gang’s killing it. His pages have an incredibly dynamic flow to them, and from what we can tell, he’s as comfortable drawing Darkhawk on the streets of New York as he is taking on the Fraternity in the depths of space. Uh, spoiler warning, I guess.
Bowers: Gang’s a superstar! He’s a one man show, y’know? He pencils, inks, colors, and after working with us, I imagine he’s probably figured out he can write, too… if we can do it, surely he can. He’s got such a fluid, and clean style to his pages, and then there’s these big moments that look almost painted that come out of nowhere, and my jaw drops. He’s really incredible.
I keep talking about this one scene in the first issue - the first time we actually see Darkhawk. It’s absolutely beautiful, and knocked my damn socks off the very first time I saw it. I talked about Mike Manley a little bit earlier, and Darkhawk’s had some great artists working on him over the years, but Gang’s raising the bar. He’s definitely going to leave his mark on the character, and I’d love to see him get the chance to do more!
Nrama: The solicitation for Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #4 mentions his “incredible new powers.” What can you tell us about that?
Bowers: We can tell you they’re awesome, and like nothing you’ve seen from the character before!
Sims: When Chad and I were talking about what we wanted to do with Darkhawk to put a new spin on him, we had a real moment of asking “okay, but is Marvel gonna let us do this?” They did, and it’s wild.
Nrama: That solicitation also says it’s the end for Darkhawk “for now.” Is there more Darkhawk in your future?
Sims: That’s more up to the readers than it is to us, I think. We got the opportunity to do this miniseries because so many people had a positive reaction to the “Legacy” one-shot. Hopefully this one will go over well, too, and get that same kind of response from… what are we calling Darkhawk fans these days, Chad? ‘Hawk-Heads? Powell Pals? F.O.D.s?
Bowers: Hawk-Heads, boy!
Nrama: Do you see potential for Darkhawk as a bigger player in the Marvel Universe?
Bowers: Oh, of course. I mean, after seeing Rocket Raccoon on the big screen, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were all standing in line for tickets to Darkhawk on Ice or something in, like, five years.
All kidding aside, though, I think we’ve positioned Darkhawk as sort of the anti-Nova in this mini-series. Where Nova has a whole crew of super clean spaceboys and girls helping him keep the galaxy safe, Darkhawk’s decided to get out there too, but he’s just a guy from New York wearing a living fighter jet that nobody trusts (but everybody thinks looks cool)... is he threat or menace?
He’s what Marvel Comics are made of, and you’ll definitely see some bigger hints at his and the Raptors history and their ongoing place in the Marvel U in this mini-series, and hopefully for years to come.
Nrama: What’s your message about this title to fans who love Darkhawk but haven’t seen him for a while, or for those who haven’t read his comics before?
Bowers: If you’re a fan of Darkhawk from back in the day, he’s still that guy! Chris Powell, the blue collar kid with an edge against crime. Only now he fights crime in outer space, too, and it’s even cooler than it sounds!
Sims: And if you’ve never read his comics before, we can all but guarantee that there’s something here for everyone. We’ve got a good guy trying to do right by the universe, a villain who’s been forced into a terrible situation by forces beyond his control, sentient alien fighter jets, and even a little romance. We wanted to do the biggest, boldest, wildest Darkhawk story ever, and c’mon. Do you really want to miss out on that?