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In The Nineties, Marvel Comics wanted to create a batch of fresh, hip superheroes to ring in the new decade. More often than not, this resulted in 90's anti-heroes. This included heroes such as Sleepwalker, Cable, and more. Darkhawk was part of this batch and while his costume and name might suggest an Anti-Hero, his personality was more down to Earth, bringing a lot of realism to his character.
The character first appeared in Darkhawk #1 (March, 1991), created by Tom DeFalco and Mike Manley. Chris Powell was an ordinary high school student who found a mysterious amulet which turned him into an armored hero. Darkhawk was original for its time in that the nature of his origin was planned out ahead of time but was kept secret for several issues, resulting in a very gradual storyarc that lasted for years. The armor (as well as others just like it) were created by a space pirate named Dargin Bokk . The alien scientists who created the technology turned on Bokk and sent one of the last amulets to Earth to keep it out of the wrong hands. Chris found the amulet in an abandoned Amusement Park moments after finding out his father was a Dirty Cop. It transported Chris' body to a dimension called Null Space and replaced it with an android body which used the amulet as a sort of Gem Heart. Years later, Chris found that there were many more users of this technology and was separated from the Darkhawk armor.
Darkhawk's series lasted for 50 issues (March, 1991- April, 1995), most of them written by Danny Fingeroth. During this time, Darkhawk joined the New Warriors and The Avengers. Despite his early popularity, once his series was cancelled, he languished in Comic Book Limbo for years. He returned in various books including The Loners (a spinoff of a team that appeared in the pages of Runaways), Marvel events such as Secret Invasion and more prominently War of Kings.
- Alien Blood: Darkhawk's is green.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: He fits under the Animal Alias type since there isn't a lot of hawklike things about him.
- Artifact of Doom: The amulets that give the users armor.
- Canon Dis Continuity: In his final issues, Darkhawk acquired a new suit of armor and new powers (including finally being able to fly on his own). The series was cancelled, Darkhawk disappeared for a few years and when he came back, he was back to his older design with none of his fancy new powers. Also, the recent War of Kings event sheds a new light as to the nature of Darkhawk's origins.
- However, knowing that Talon was simply manipulating Chris now makes the canon even more uncertain than it was before.
- Chest Blaster: He can fire forcefields and from his Chest Insignia.
- Clothes Make the Superman: Darkhawk is different from typical armored heroes in that his entire body is replaced by an android that is connected to the armor.
- Don't Tell Mama: The night Chris found the amulet was also the night that he witnessed his police officer father taking a bribe from mob bosses. He tried to keep this information from his mother for years.
- Evil Counterpart: Since many suits were made, Darkhawk has encountered a few evil armor-users.
- As mentioned above, Dargin Bokk was the original commisioner of the suits and wore a version himself,complete with plenty of spikes.
- There was a dimension-hopping mutant named Portal who used the destroyed remains of a suit of armor. Since the suit was in pieces, he couldn't use any of its powers but it didn't stop him from looking like an evil Darkhawk.
- As revealed in War of Kings, the entire Fraternity of Raptors is this to Chris. Given that their numbers rank in the thousands, let's hope they don't all wake up at once.
- The Faceless: Darkhawk himself. He once took off his helmet to see what his android body looked like. It was pretty traumatic for him although the reader was spared. This scene turned into a mild Nothing Is Scarier moment.
- In War of Kings, it is implied that taking off his helmet and looking at what was beneath was his first step into the suit-induced insanity.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Chris later found out that if he was wounded as Darkhawk, all he had to do was change back to his human form and the next time he used the armor, he was healed. This came in handy when the villain Tombstone tore his amulet/heart from his chest.
- Grappling Hook Gun: His suit came equipped with a grappling hook launcher, allowing him to send himself into the air and glide with his wings. He later found out he could fly.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Early issues centered around Darkhawk trying to discover how his suit worked.
- Humans Are Special: In War of Kings, it is revealed that Chris's anger issues and psychotic episodes were the result of his suit. Because the humans are a young race, none of the suits can effectively integrate with them. Talon says this is a weakness, but a Skrull, stuck in the same position of Chris, says that it makes him special, allowing him to use the suit in ways Talon and Razor never could.
- Nineties Anti-Hero: He has the name and look of one, but not the personality.
- Organic Technology: There is synthetic flesh under that suit, as well as blood. As mentioned, the amulet served as the android's heart as well.
- Powered Armor
- Power-Up: As Chris understood more about his armor, the more powers he discovered. As mentioned in the Canon Dis Continuity section above, these powers were quickly forgotten but the War of Kings gave him a different set of upgrades any way.
- Specifically, he gained the ability to switch between different armor modes, each of which had their own unique powers. And it's also hinted by both Talon and a Skrull that he hasn't even begun to unleash his full potential.
- Rogues Gallery Transplant: Mild examples. Both the Hobgoblin and Tombstone showed up in early issues as reoccuring villains. In fact, the Hobgoblin was the first super villain he faced. Later, The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants showed up quite a bit despite editors for X-Men comics being very picky about that sort of thing. Even later, Venom, of all people, developed a recurring feud with Darkhawk. Ironically, Darkhawk typically tended to have an easier time against Venom than Spider-Man did, possibly because Darkhawk wasn't psyched out by Venom the way Spidey was.
- Space Pirates: The original idea behind the armors.
- Super Strength: Darkhawk was initially around as strong as guys like Spider-Man but has had a significent increase in power.
- Tangled Family Tree: Mostly due to his father who turned out to be a Dirty Cop and left the family. It's probably the first instance of a broken family in Marvel.
- Took a Level In Badass: The War of Kings crossover showed Chris holding his own, without most of his armor powers, against the entire Starjammers crew, and a pissed off Gladiator.