Monday, February 27, 2012

Five Comics Worth Reading - February 2012

At this point, having a comic book blogger tell you that you should give Archie Comics a second look because they’re doing some pretty remarkable and groundbreaking stuff is not the shocker it was a year ago (I already more or less did as much recently). However, just because it’s getting exposure is no reason not to talk about something good, and Archie is indeed something good right now. I’ve always appreciated the rock solid and consistent grasp of storytelling and characterization the folks from Riverdale have, but the material they’re producing right now is pretty bold and standout, not to mention something I can sink my teeth into as an adult while still recommending it to my sister who is a school teacher to give out in class. If you want to see issues like gay marriage or the economic crisis covered with intelligence and wit but also restraint and balance, Archie of all places is where you should be turning. Also, there are guest appearances from rock bands and parodies of movies; it’s like how Sesame Street got cool again, but more up my alley. I’ve been meaning to sample more of the line, such as the fairly acclaimed Life with Archie, but for now I’m recommending the titular flagship since that’s where my amigo Alex Segura’s recent “Archie Meets KISS” story just wrapped and where he’ll be tackling “Occupy Riverdale” in the coming months.

So perhaps you checked out the first three issues of Avenging Spider-Man because Joe Madureira made his return to comics, and likely you were not disappointed because Joe Mad has still got it and kicked some ass. However, while marveling (pun not intended) at Joe drawing eight zillion Moloids, you may have found yourself chuckling at Spidey’s banter even more than usual. You may also have been shocked at how much you were seeing J. Jonah Jameson as a complex character rather than just a gruff curmudgeon (but also still a gruff curmudgeon). You may further have empathized with The Mole Man, gasped when Red Hulk went down and marveled at Spider-Man’s solution to the whole conflict. All of these reactions came in large part thanks to writer Zeb Wells, who is indeed the goods. Peter Parker is fortunate enough (or as fortunate as comic characters can get given the high tragedy rate they suffer through more or less monthly) to be handled with regular love and care by the brilliant Dan Slott, but Zeb comes from another direction on this book, focusing exclusively thus far on the Spidey side of the equation, and with results I’m digging. It really clicked into place with me on issue #4, a standalone team-up with Hawkeye drawn by Greg Land, where Wells inverted the usual Spider-Man/anybody else dynamic by having Spidey as the frustratingly responsible one, and then nailing a core character trait of Clint Barton from an angle I’ve certainly never seen, and if it’s been done before surely not any better than this. Zeb Wells is a busy dude out in Hollywood who doesn’t get to write nearly enough comics, but when he does, you should rush to appreciate his twin barrels of genuinely hilarity and razor sharp grasp of what makes the characters he’s writing tick; that he’s currently on a book where he gets to play with the coolest heroes in the Marvel Universe while top notch artists draw them is the proverbial gravy sauce.

On a recent trip to Midtown Comics, I decided to put my money where my mouth was re: a claim I made recently in an Art Attack post that the covers for the new Extreme books were enough to entice me to check out at least one or two with no idea what I was buying—and I’m glad I did. I have no familiarity with the character Glory, either in her original or Alan Moore incarnations (are they the same?) and further had no knowledge of who Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell were outside of names my more sophisticated comic reading friends drop when discussing folks good at writing and/or drawing. The story by Keatinge in the first issue (technically #23) is all over the place both in terms of chronology and focus, but while that can take me right out of some stories, here it was done wonderfully, as I felt immersed in a huge saga within 20 or so pages, getting glimpses of tons of stuff I knew a little about and want to learn more of, but also feeling like I got a good enough sense of this character and her world that I am invested in what comes next. Campbell’s art is wild and unique, certainly outside my normal comfort zone and I ate it up, man. Glory is terrifying in her proportions and the visual violence she reaps, but she’s also quite beautiful, both in the quiet moments and glimmering in the heat of battle. This is also a comic where I really noticed the colors, given how much white and grey there is so kudos to Shatia Hamilton for really making it stand out. Discovering new comic book universes where I’m a total neophyte but want to know more is one of my favorite things, so I’m quite pumped to be reading this book!

For the longest time I didn’t really “get” the New Mutants. Weaned on X-Force as I was, they were only ever the younger, wimpier, less cool versions of the characters I really liked to me, and Cannonball looked like a dork. I had no desire to read about that incarnation of my beloved team and even less to see them regress to that point. When Generation X and later the New X-Men came into being while X-Force quietly dissolved back into being reserve X-Men, the mutants I grew up loving seemed to suffer the same middle child syndrome as the original Teen Titans, just kind of hanging around in the background as less competent adults or out-of-place young people. It’s only recently that I’ve really started to appreciate through trades the endearing quirkiness of the original New Mutants—it helps that I’m not 12 years old and baffled by characters under 20 without earrings or leather jackets anymore—just in time for Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning to find a niche for the characters today. Having just departed my 20’s, I dig how DnA writes the original Muties as that drifting lost generation too old to live on Utopia with Cyclops and company but still too young to know quite what they’re doing with their lives. For a team that includes techno-organic aliens and other-dimensional doppelgangers, the New Mutants seem refreshingly “normal” amidst an X-Men Universe of the extraordinary (which I also love, but there’s room for chocolate as well as peanut butter; well, not for me, I’m lactose intolerant, but you get me). Tossing this weird yet relatable group up against gonzo threats like demonic metal bands or islands of monster birds plays the contrast beautifully, and the soap opera aspects are also finely tuned, feeling more Reality Bites than 90210, as befitting the protagonist demographic. With guys like David Lopez manning the art, New Mutants is also one of the prettiest book on the stands. And did I mention they had a whole issue that was Magma on a date with Mephisto and it was phenomenal? Mephisto truly is the most lovable character of 2012…

Ok, on the surface, Red Lanterns would seem to have a lot going against it for the discerning reader. There’s the pretty absurd violence level and the fact that most of the characters are literally vomiting up acid blood more often than not. There’s also the overblown sexualizing of many female figures in physically impossible poses. The book gives you plenty of reasons not to give it a shot, and nobody would blame you if you wanted to pass and try something else—I won’t—but if you do elect to sample Red Lantern, you may be surprised to find you enjoy it; I kinda was. It’s not a surprise that Peter Milligan can write a good series, but given the material of perpetually pissed off monsters whose personalities consist more of yelling than anything else, it’s pretty impressive how much depth he gives them. Without a traditional heroic lead, Milligan chooses instead to muse on the concept of rage and anger getting somewhat deep in the process, but never lapsing into boring. As the series has progressed, he’s gone a bit further and explored the gamut of emotions, how those that drive the Red Lanterns fit in the mix, and how they can be exploited. The power struggle between Atrocitus and Bleez is reminiscent of something you might see on Apokolips, and as the cast expands, the intrigue grows. Ed Benes’ art may not be for everybody, but you can’t deny it’s striking, and when it comes to designing or portraying out there beasts, his skills can shine quite nicely. So yeah, I didn’t think Red Lanterns would be a book I’d be championing six months in—and again, this is one of those “your mileage may vary” cases—but I do contend it’s worth a look if you’re even slightly curious.

Academy Award-Winning Paragraph Movie Review: The Artist

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

From just about every technical standpoint, The Artist is a masterpiece; really it has to be, as it needs to hold the attention of a 21st century audience with the film making techniques of nearly a century ago and absent of any spoken dialogue or color. A great, consistently moving score help to keep you engaged with a plot that could easily lose you otherwise. Meticulous cinematography and art direction contribute as well. Michel Hazanavicius and his crew deserve tremendous credit for putting every aspect of a movie that might get glossed over because they're covered by strong acting under the microscope and making sure to get as close to perfection with them as they can. Even stuff I wouldn't normally notice like the snappy costumes stood out. And the performances are there to boot, as Jean Dujardin brims with the charm of a born leading man whose expressive physical work, comedic chops and ability to pour his heart into his face is remarkable. Berenice Bejo is a notch or two below Dujardin, but that doesn't mean she's not fantastic (she is). The supporting cast is wisely packed with actors not out of place in the setting who do so much storytelling with the way they move, particularly John Goodman, but also Missi Pyle and even James Cromwell; Penelope Ann Miller is a bit of a weak link, but she's not a particularly important cog. Finally the story being conveyed--the fall of a lovable but vain silent film star railing against talking pictures and his love story with the woman symbolizing his replacement--is strong with much to say. My big knock against The Artist would be its lack of staying power, meaning now that I've seen all the tricks (and there were some great ones, from everything I outlined to the gradual introduction of sound and so on), I really have no desire to watch it again. I'm also not sure how much my attention would have been held had I seen it in the theater as opposed to with my friends at their apartment, with us able to commentate over the whole thing (which we did). But hey, there are far worse things that being a darn near flawless piece of cinema that you only want to see once, and that dog was adorable.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Art Attack: May 2012's Coolest Covers

-On Animal Man Annual #1 and Avengers Academy #30, Travel Foreman and Giuseppe Camuncoli both do something that makes their covers stand out in a perfectly logical and yet unexpected way, that being taking characters whose chief physical characteristics are physical deformities and actually making them visually a bit gross. Swamp Thing is a shambling swamp monster and Mettle is basically an accident victim with no skin, but the tendency for artists will often just be to make them look super heroic and bad ass; Foreman's Swamp Thing is a creeping mass of gelatin while Camuncoli's Mettle appears horribly uncomfortable in his own proportions. It solidifies what makes these characters unique when artists go for it like this, and it makes their work stand out in the process.

-On his variant to Avengers Vs. X-Men #4, Jerome Opena demonstrates how to make a simple concept very powerful. And dig those Dean White colors.

-Captain America dinosaur! Captain America dinosaur!

-There is seemingly not only nothing Paolo Rivera can't do, but nothing he can't do with his own spin. This month, he does sexy like you've never seen before on the cover of Daredevil.

-Dave Johnson is a genius with composition. I'm loving seeing the techniques he's been using to make his Deadpool covers break from the pack and am anxious to see how that black space is ultimately utilized. His Fury MAX stuff is pretty damn hot too.

-Breaking: Adam Hughes draws gorgeous ladies.

-It's always fun to see Ethan Van Sciver apply his detailed style to new designs, in this case Batwing and OMAC at the least.

-Hey, remember how I said a couple months back I was intrigued to pick up Glory based just on the cover? I did and I liked it!

-That Grim Leaper cover unsettles me and I can't put my finger on exactly why.

-Incredible Hulk #7.1's cover is currently the background on my work computer.

-What in the blue hell is happening on that Wolverine cover by Chris Samnee? I must know.

-Young Justice #16 feels a bit like an homage to the original Young Justice #22, itself a bit of an homage to New Teen Titans #8. Cool stuff.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #27 by Rafael Albuquerque
ANIMAL MAN ANNUAL #1 by Travel Foreman
AQUAMAN #9 by Ivan Reis
AVENGERS ACADEMY #30 by Giuseppe Camuncoli
AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #4 by Jerome Opena
BATMAN & ROBIN #9 by Patrick Gleason
CAPTAIN AMERICA & HAWKEYE #631 by Patrick Zircher
DAREDEVIL #12 by Paolo Rivera
DEADPOOL #54 by Dave Johnson
DIAL H #1 by Brian Bolland
FAIREST #3 by Adam Hughes
FURY MAX #2 by Dave Johnson
GLORY #26 by Ross Campbell
GREEN LANTERN #9 by Doug Mahnke
GRIM LEAPER #1 by Aluisio Santos
INCREDIBLE HULK #7.1 by Michael Komarck
INCREDIBLE HULK #8 cover by Michael Komarck
MIND THE GAP #1 by Rodin Esquejo
MYSTERY IN SPACE #1 by Mike Allred
SECRET AVENGERS #27 by Alan Davis
SUPERGIRL #9 by Mahmud Asrar
SWAMP THING #9 by Yanick Paquette
ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #12 by Kaare Andrews
VENOM #17 by Mike Del Mundo
WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #10 by Chris Bachalo
WOLVERINE #306 by Chris Samnee
X-FACTOR #235 by David Yardin
YOUNG JUSTICE #16 by Christopher Jones

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Like Crazy

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

I'm a sucker for romantic movies that tug at the heartstrings, and this was quite a good one (in fact it may have tugged a bit too hard, which is a commentary on my teenage girl-like emotional over-sensitivity and if anything another compliment to the film). Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones could not be more perfect as Jacob and Anna, an American man and British woman who meet in their final year of college and embark on a relationship that is almost immediately sidetracked by issues of distance. They hit the nice moments so well, and you become emotionally invested in their happiness almost instantly, but they're also disturbingly skilled at making their fights remarkably believable for two real people in love; their relationship never feels scripted or rehearsed, which makes the highs higher and the lows heartbreaking (I was agonizing the whole time about how one seemingly simple transgression they make with loving intentions in the first 20 minutes becomes the dragon they must battle for the remaining hour plus). They're backed up by a solid supporting cast where Oliver Muirhead and Alex Kingston shine as Anna's parents while Jennifer Lawrence doesn't do much but look pretty and Finola Hughes seems a bit wasted as well in a cameo. The film is beautifully shot, with director Drake Doremus (whose relationship with his ex-wife the story is apparently based on) specializing in wonderful close-ups and jump cuts. The time lines jumps around quite a bit, which is nice as it helps advance the plot and the characters' relationship, but can also be slightly confusing and make it seem as though you're missing key bits; fortunately Yelchin and Jones ensure that while some tipping points in their journey take place between scenes, the emotional resonance is never lost. I doubt this will go down as an all-time classic and certainly it's the type of movie I'm appreciating a lot while still in the moment of having experienced it, but even stepping back I'm really impressed by the nice little piece these folks have created.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The new Scarlet Spider is the new Spider-Man

Writing about Darkhawk the other day, I discussed how it seemed like in the 90’s comic companies—Marvel in particular—were always looking for “the new Spider-Man.” What I didn’t talk about was how there actually was a new Spider-Man for a bit in Ben Reilly.

I’ve done a post about Ben Reilly before and mentioned that I felt he had a lot of untapped potential that writers like J.M. DeMatteis in particular seemed to get. I thought Ben’s greatest attribute was allowing creators to explore different paths and venues for Spider-Man right there in the Marvel Universe without having to mess with Peter Parker directly. In Ben Reilly you had the core of Peter Parker’s personality (say that five times fast) but also a tortured soul and free spirit that played better as a man questing for life rather than being anchored by a city or friends and family.

Ultimately I think the worst thing for Ben Reilly was for him to become Spider-Man. He may have had a different costume and blond hair, but it was about trying to jam him into Peter Parker’s place and tell Peter Parker stories (specifically unmarried Peter Parker stories) with a guy who could have been something different.

You know the end of the story: the fans didn’t buy Ben as Spider-Man, he got dispatched, and Peter Parker returned.

However, absence did make the heart grow fonder and folks came to regard Ben Reilly with a loving nostalgia, as evidenced by the many requests we (meaning Marvel) would get at conventions to bring him back. When we teased at San Diego that the Scarlet Spider might be returning folks got excited as this was Ben’s pre-Spider-Man identity. Things went another direction and the other clone of Peter Parker, one-time villain Kaine, ended up as the new Scarlet Spider who recently got his own series by Chris Yost and Ryan Stegman.

And to bring my little tangent full circle, I think a decade and a half after the search began and with a character born out of that very era, in the new Scarlet Spider, we’ve finally got a new Spider-Man.

The obvious response to that statement is “yeah, obviously we kind of have a new Spider-Man in that a clone of Spider-Man is wearing one of his old costumes and webslinging around—duh, Ben.” First, that’s rude; second, you’re better than that; lastly, there’s more to it.

Chris Yost’s premise for the new Scarlet Spider is not just exploring a Spider-Man with a different costume or haircut, it’s an ambitious exploration of nature vs. nurture with Peter Parker as the test case and the results being how Spidey would have turned out different under alternative circumstances. It’s also a great deal of fun and the art by Ryan Stegman is fantastic (I have to mention his name at least twice as he’s a great guy but also terribly vain and sensitive), but I’m really enjoying the meatier character study here.

In Kaine as Yost writes him (and as Dan Slott set him up, to give credit where credit is due), we have the beginning of Ben Reilly’s unrealized potential and then some. Ben had all of Peter’s memories—including most crucially being raised by Ben and May Parker—to a point and then there was a divergence; Kaine has the core essence of Peter, but his “childhood” was being abused and cast out by his “father,” the murderous Jackal. He has spent his life to this point with gross physical deformities and living under the shadow of a life-threatening disease. He has killed many people and burned through every relationship he’s ever had. Whereas Ben was a slightly darker hue of Peter, Kaine is pitch black—and now he’s searching for redemption.

The question at the heart of the series—or one at least—is how ingrained what makes Peter Parker a good person and a hero is and how much of that came about because he had the right upbringing. Kaine has the building blocks of Peter Parker, but he never had an uncle to explain to him about power and responsibility. Even the real Spider-Man had to grow into being a decent guy at a horrible cost and didn’t have the easiest life, but Kaine is that plus a million.

It’s compelling stuff, but two issues in it has also created a really entertaining and alluring character. Free of his disease and feeling like he has redeemed his misdeeds enough, Kaine just wants to retreat from the world, but there’s something deep down that’s pulling him toward a heroic path. At the same time, he’s got to fight the urge to deal out that killing blow to the bad guy and has no problem tossing civilians out of the way or even using a gun. He’s his own Greek chorus in a way slightly more serious than Deadpool.

I also love the way Yost dialogues Kaine. He’s got glimmers of those Spider-Man wisecracks but buried beneath about a dozen layers of cynicism and bitterness; it’s a unique voice. He’s not the standup comic; he’s the drunk heckling him from the back of the room. Also, when Kaine talks tough it doesn’t feel like a put-on, another difference between him and Spider-Man.

So ultimately it wasn’t about instilling a kid with a similar personality to Peter Parker with different costumes and powers. It wasn’t about creating a spider character with a dark twist like Venom (Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson are both great in their own right, but they are their own men). Finding the new Spider-Man and doing so in the most rewarding way was just a matter of playing “what if?” on a serious level with the heart of Peter Parker and what makes him who he is and then running with it.

I’m loving Scarlet Spider so far and reveling in the chance to experience a new kind of Spider-Man from the ground floor. I’m really excited for him to get established and start becoming part of the Marvel Universe to see how others react to him. It truly does feel like being on the ground floor of something special not unlike folks felt when Amazing Fantasy #15 first came out, and I do believe that was the goal.

Also, did I mention Stegman’s art is great?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Midnight in Paris

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

I'm not a guy who goes in for movies that are love letters to "insert city her," so I needed more from this one than pretty shots of Paris filling montages that go on a bit too long for my liking. I do like the particularity of Woody Allen's experienced-shooting style (which is still especially unique to me as I've only seen one other of his films), but again, not enough. The premise of a modern day romantic making his way back to 1920's Paris is a neat one, and novel because it brings about some excellent supporting performances in actors portraying real historical figures. Corey Stoll captures the screen with his intense Ernest Hemingway, Kathy Bates strikes a nice run-on sentence of a performance of Gertrude Stein, Adrien Brody has a fun cameo as Salvador Dali and I wanted to see more of Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill's charming Fitzgeralds. The overall commentary Allen is making about everybody's romanticized past golden age being somebody else's dull present is one with mileage. Unfortunately all this stumbles for me with Owen Wilson's leading man performance, which starts awkward and only gets worse. I don't fault Wilson for playing out of his depth given that he's a man from the 21st century hobnobbing with his idols a century prior, but he goes too far with it and wrecks the flow of the piece for me. He has nice comedic bursts, his obvious strength, but a more meaningful dramatic performance is sacrificed and lacking. The most disappointing thing for me is how Wilson's googly-eyed rambling cuts so much of the cast's potential off because it kills the give and take. Rachel McAdams and Mimi Kennedy are brilliantly bitchy as the shallow fiancee and her loathsome mother, but Wilson fails to give his character, Gil, enough likability for me to really root against them. On the other side of the coin, Marion Cotillard is beguiling as the object of Gil's affection in the past, but the fact that she prefers this bumbler to the charismatic Hemingway when he displays no real affable qualities takes away from her credibility. It's rare that I like so much about a movie from its writing to its technical aspects to the general high quality of the performances and yet one actor can really spoil it for me, but Midnight in Paris is that unique exception.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Should Have Beens: Darkhawk

In the early 90’s the race was on in comics to find the “new Spider-Man.” The old Spider-Man had grown into an at-his-youngest 20-something married to a super model, so the void for relatable teenage was gaping. There was an influx of “legacy” characters at DC like Superboy, The Ray, Damage, the third Robin and so on, but they tapped more into the general idea that young people like reading about other young people. At Marvel, many new characters were created and existing characters tweaked to fill the spot of Peter Parker as the average kid who happened upon extraordinary powers and could be you.

I’ve heard at least Robert Kirkman describe Sleepwalker as “his Spider-Man,” I suppose because his alter ego Rick Sheridan was semi-directionless young guy most comic fans could theoretically see themselves in, but since the “hero” himself was a whole other personality, I’ve never really bought that. Nova got a big push to the forefront, but Rich Rider had been around long enough as an established character that his differences from Peter Parker pushed back and made him his own man. Same deal with Speedball, Night Thrasher, etc. The Phil Urich incarnation of The Green Goblin was interesting, but a bit too much of a concentrated inversion of Spidey to fill his shoes.

I think the closest we got to a Spider-Man to call our own in the 90’s was Darkhawk, and even if he wasn’t the new Peter Parker, he presented a cool enough concept I’m surprised he hasn’t had more staying power.

I wasn’t a regular Darkhawk reader when he had his ongoing series. I bought one issue because it was an Infinity Crusade tie-in and way later (like, recently) read his first few appearances when they were reprinted, but mostly my exposure to the character was via New Warriors and guest spots. When he resurfaced a few years back as part of Runaways then Loners and ultimately War of Kings, I gained more familiarity. The idea of Darkhawk seems like a hit for me, but maybe the execution wasn’t up to snuff; again though, I read those early issues and even through 20 years later eyes I found them pretty compelling.


Chris Powell was the teenage son of a policeman from Queens, New York who witnessed his dad taking a bribe from a crime boss and stumbled on a weird amulet while trying to avoid being seen. Said amulet allowed Chris to transform into the armored warrior Darkhawk, whose abilities he used to combat organized crime and super villains alike.

I know the few times I checked in on Darkhawk as a kid, much was made of the fact that his dad had gone missing and that he was dating (or at least romantically involved with) the daughter of the crime lord from his first appearance. That actually held a lot of appeal for me, as Chris’ supporting cast was different from the normal set of classmates and would-be mentors you usually got with teen heroes, instead extending to his suddenly single mother, underworld figures whom he maybe could or couldn’t trust, and of course that crime lord’s daughter (no, I don’t remember her name, I read like three issues). The old Romeo & Juliet love story is fairly tried, but there’s a reason it’s also true (I think that’s how you use that expression).

In the War of Kings: Ascension mini (I’ll get there in a sec), I didn’t see Chris’ dad around anywhere when they showed his home life, but I don’t know if he was found, if he died, etc. Regardless, mystery was another thing that I thought would make Darkhawk stand out. The question of his dad’s whereabouts was one thing, the true origin and nature of exactly where the Darkhawk armor came from was another. I remember there was a Marvel trading card set around 1993 or 1994 where a sub series was “Greatest Mysteries” and one was “The Face of Darkhawk,” because I guess one time he took the helmet off and what he saw in the mirror was hideous.

Eventually a lot of the Darkhawk mythology got unraveled, in Ascension (told you) and War of Kings, with the explanation of a sort of corps of cosmic bad asses linked to the Shi’ar (hence the bird motif) who kept armored bodies in a wormhole and pulled them out when needed; the amulet Chris found belonged to one of these guys, who turned out to be villains. I remember when editor Bill Rosemann was breaking this concept (I may have even contributed an idea or two, which I’m sure Rosemann will deny) and it sounded cool as heck to me; still does. It straddles the line between cosmic and corruption on a scale I feel the original Darkhawk series wanted to reach but never quite got to; certainly there’s untapped potential here (hence the post).

Chris Powell himself was a bit of a blank slate generic teen at first, which may be a reason he never quite took off, as everything around him from his family to his girlfriend to his origin was more interesting than him. However, again, I think in recent years guys like C.B. Cebulski, Brian K. Vaughan and Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have infused Chris with more personality, playing up the fact that he’s a kid who had to grow up fast once his dad left and matured fast in some ways but remains over his head in others. He’s definitely somebody I can relate to; whose boneheaded mistakes I roll my eyes at because I’ve made them and whose little victories I smile for.

Another thing Darkhawk had and has going for him is armor, which is intrinsically cool. Mike Manley did a cool initial design (I love his little bird claw) and more recent artists like Wellinton Alves and Brandon Peterson have brought it closer to its full potential.

One thing Darkhawk has against him is that his name is Darkhawk; there are few codenames that sound more dated and 90’s. It does have its charm though (and he is in fact a dark hawk…sort of).

Darkhawk could have a unique place in the Marvel Universe as a hero with roots set as far apart as outer space and the streets of New York. There are a lot of questions still to be answered for older readers and a lot of ground to mine to get new fans on board. If I were the sort to end posts on bad puns, I’d say I hope to see Darkhawk take flight again soon.