Tuesday, December 20, 2011

War of Kings: Darkhawk #1-#2

As I mentioned when Darkhawk first appeared in "Nova," I loved Darkhawk as a teenager.  He had that perfect blend of adolescent angst and undefined stress that made you really feel like he was a teenage superhero, not just a superhero who also happened to be a teenager.  But, his series, as a result, was always a little...whiny.  I never felt like anyone did a great job capturing a voice for him that let him be a scared teenager but also a nascent superhero.  I was excited, therefore, to see how Cebulski was going to present an older Chris.

War of Kings:  Darkhawk #1:  Cebulski focuses on Chris' anger-management issues in this first issue, something I remember being a theme of his original series.  I was a little surprised to see him living with his mom, since I'm assuming that being the security chief at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. pays well enough for him to afford his own apartment.  But, I get that he's doing it to spend time with his family.  That said, one of the overused tropes of the original series is that everyone seemed to know who he was, so his family was constantly in danger -- like, on an Aunt May or Mary Jane level.  Cebulski unfortunately also revives that trope, with Talon destroying his house and injuring his mom.  I'm hoping we seen an improvement next issue, because I'm disappointed that Cebulski picked up so much of the bad from the original series and so little of the good.

War of Kings:  Darkhawk #2:  Huh.  OK, I'll do the good first.  I feel like Cebulski (and DnA) do two things that really help make a break with some of the significant baggage that this character has and sets the stage for better stories. First, I liked the idea of having Chris be part of a "Nova Corps"-esque entity called the "Fraternity of Raptors," because Chris probably needs a better group of enemies (and an overarching sense of purpose).  I always felt like the enemies he fought in his original series were oddly matched to the type of cosmic-level power he displayed.  (I mean, Spider-Man can handle the Hobgoblin.  Why does someone who can, like, destory stars need to do so?)  As such, giving him a cosmic-level enemy will probably make for a better fit.  Second, by identifying a cause for his anger-management issues, Cebulski gives us the possibility of resolving them and moving past that terribly overused plot point.  Moreover, I also enjoyed the revelation that Chris has all sorts of different armors at his disposal because, to quote him, he could be really badass.

Unfortuantely, although I like the "Fraternity of Raptors" in theory, I think I'm going to like them less in practice.  I mean, their mission is to "serve as architects of the universal fate."  Um, what now?  It's not exactly, as Chris himself notes, a specific job description.  In reality, it's pretty clearly intended just to involve Darkhawk in the "War of Kings."   (Moreover, I think it's a retcon, since I'm pretty sure the original series had a different origin for the amulet.  Also, didn't Chris already fight a Talon in that series?  I'm going to have to look through my back issues when I'm at my parents' house for Christmas.)  I mean, who exactly opposes them?  Someone does, since he or she (or they) sent the "hunter drone" after Talon.  I'm all for a good ancient rivalry between good and evil, but Cebulski doesn't really sell it as something all that interesting.  I mean, again, all we get is "architects of the universal fate?"  Moreover, the art in this issue is terrible.  I could barely follow the action during the fight with the drone.  Honestly, I couldn't really even describe what it looks like.

According to the last panel, the story is continued in "War of Kings:  Ascension."  I don't have that series in my stack, and I can't say I'm all that intrigued by what Celuski has done here to make the effort to buy it.  At this point, I think I'll just read "War of Kings" and, if I feel like I missed something, try to see if Marvel has a digital version.  I get the sense, though, that Darkhawk isn't going to be essential to the "War of Kings" plot.  As such, even though I'm what I'd consider a huge Darkhawk fan, I can't say I really recommend this series.  Sad, but true. 


  1. Ah, there's something else we have in common JW, an appreciation for Darkhawk! Until I read this review, I had completely forgotten all about Darkhawk's involvement in War of Kings. I went back to check my own review of this mini(I seriously don't remember it!) and saw that I wasn't fond of it either. I also mentioned Darkhawk's origin being altered here as something that bugged me(although I don't know if Darkhawk's origin was ever really properly explained back in his series...).

    I also reviewed War of Ascension #1-4, but I did it in a single post, in TWO(!!) sentences... I must have been swamped with homework or something that night... For what it's worth, I seemed to kind of enjoy it(I gave it a 7 1/2), but that is another mini I barely remember, and what I do remember I can't really understand why I gave it a 7 1/2(I don't recall it being good enough to warrant a 7 1/2...), so who knows... I used to do the strangest things at my blog...

  2. Of course we do! Darkhawk is like a sidekick who never actually was a sidekick to anyone!

    I actually went back and read "Ascension" on-line, but I'm still totally confused about why DnA felt the need to include the Fraternity of Raptors storyline in "War of Kings." I mean, at this point, I've pretty much read everything involving Darkhawk since he first re-appeared in "Nova," and I'm still not entirely sure who the Fraternity is. It seems like DnA were trying to set up a new "Darkhawk" series and Marvel pulled the plug on the whole cosmic line before they could get it off the ground.

    I missed the link for your "War of Kings" reviews on your blog when I looked, but I'll be reading them now!