DARKHAWK: Page 4 of 8

Publication Date: 21st Oct 2021
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: Gremlin.


While interning at the radio station, Chris overheard reports that Portal was back in town. He changed to Darkhawk in order to reconnect with the dimensional traveler and learn more about the other Darkhawk that Portal once fought. Chris found Portal being accosted by Guardsmen from the Vault and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who wanted to use his mutant teleporting power for their own purposes. Spider-Man intervened as well, leading the Brotherhood to flee when Darkhawk, Portal and Spidey teamed up against them. Darkhawk propositioned Portal again, hoping that together they could learn more about their shared armor. However, Sleepwalker then arrived, intent on requisitioning Portal’s power to get back to his home in the Mindscape. Portal grew tired of everyone wanting a piece of him, and teleported away.

Spider-Man, Darkhawk and Sleepwalker remained a step behind Portal as he was snared by the Brotherhood again and hypnotized by their member Sauron. The mind-controlled Portal cast Spider-Man into the Dark Dimension of the Mindless Ones before he and the Brotherhood fled again. Sleepwalker abandoned Darkhawk to rescue civilians alone while Sleepy pursued the Brotherhood through Portal’s gateway. They reunited later, leaving Darkhawk and Sleepwalker as uneasy allies as they returned to the Brotherhood base Sleepwalker found earlier. The Brotherhood were driven off, and Sleepwalker had a friend of his help free Portal from Sauron’s hypnosis. Portal agreed to grant Sleepwalker a favor to get out of his debt. Instead of returning home, Sleepwalker requested Portal recover the lost Spider-Man. This selfless act went a long way towards regaining Darkhawk’s trust in Sleepy. [Darkhawk (1st series) #19-20, Sleepwalker #17]

Chris was furious when he learned the Savage Steel armor had disappeared from police custody. An unstable wannabe vigilante named Arthur Vale stole the armor and began using it to kill those he considered criminals. Tony Stark was also interested in Savage Steel as Iron Man, fearing that Stark International technology had been appropriated for the designs. Darkhawk intervened on Iron Man’s fight with Vale, only to find Iron Man was just as paranoid about Darkhawk’s unusual armor. After a brief skirmish, though, Stark confirmed Darkhawk was free of StarkTech and disabled his tech found in Savage Steel’s armor. This got Chris involved with Iron Man and the Avengers West Coast as they hunted down an underground ring of tech dealers. Darkhawk met and fought alongside Scarlet Witch and Spider-Woman as they battled the forces of Professor Power and Kearson DeWitt. [Assault on Armor City crossover]

Chris’ home life continued to feel the weight of the past few months. Jason was increasingly withdrawn since the explosion, while Jon was becoming paranoid about home security in case the family was attacked again. Grace Powell struggled with her new role as a single parent, and wanted to count on her older son to help with the house, noting how absent Chris had been recently. After the family visited Mike Powell’s grave together, Chris stayed behind to brood about the secrets he was keeping. He had a surprising encounter with Allegra Bazin, meeting her for the first time as Chris. Chris made a good first impression when he tackled Allegra to safety as a rival mob tried to assassinate Bazin’s daughter. However, he made an equally bad impression when he returned home and found Cheryl waiting for him. Cheryl wanted to reconnect after how shaky their relationship had been lately, but a distracted Chris called her “Allegra,” destroying the mood and driving Cheryl away.

Chris returned to the graveyard to check his suspicions about the earlier attack on Allegra. It turned out the hit wasn’t meant to kill her, but drive her away from Philippe Bazin’s grave. Bazin’s former occult expert learned his boss’ empty grave had been buried with a genuine object of power, and he wanted it for himself. The man was transformed into a monstrous creature and Chris changed into Darkhawk to fight him. However, Darkhawk began experiencing psychic attacks whenever he was in his armored form, crippling his fighting ability. He barely survived the battle with the creature, only due to the timely intervention of Ghost Rider. The attacks ended as soon as he returned to being Chris, and Darkhawk felt helpless as Ghost Rider pursued the creature alone.

At his radio internship, Chris wrestled with the decision to risk becoming Darkhawk again. Still, when a news report came in that Ghost Rider had found the monster again and was losing, he knew he had to return to action. Unfortunately, a radio DJ named Traci had found the amulet in Chris’ desk and was playing with it on-air. Chris forced his way into the studio and took back his amulet on a live broadcast, losing his internship in the process. Darkhawk and Ghost Rider fought the creature and won, forcing him back into his human form by separating him from the object of power. The object itself disappeared before Darkhawk could secure it, but he felt another brain-zap coming on and was forced to flee the scene before turning back into Chris. [Darkhawk (1st series) #21-22]

Back at home, Chris found St. Johnny trying to force his way indoors. Johnny had also experienced the psychic attacks, and was changed because of them. Chris got St. Johnny across the street into Wonderland before another attack struck him, this time as Chris Powell. Johnny retrieved the amulet from a stunned Chris and then physically transformed into a heavily armored techno-organic war machine, seemingly his true form. Johnny claimed he served a master and had only been helping Chris in the past to protect the amulet. Now he must incapacitate Chris in order to face “mind-death.” Johnny’s weaponry was intimidating, as a stray blast missed Chris and struck his house across the street, blowing a hole in the roof and driving his terrified family into the basement for safety.

Chris scrambled to defend himself against St. Johnny’s insane onslaught, which seemed to switch between incapacitating attacks and genuinely trying to kill him as Johnny struggled with his mental commands. Despite his boasts, the real St. Johnny had befriended Chris Powell and didn’t want to support “mind-death.” When the Code: Blue police unit arrived, Chris took advantage of their distraction to charge Johnny and retrieve his amulet, becoming Darkhawk once more. As Darkhawk, he finally overcame St. Johnny by impaling his enemy (Mentor? Friend?) on a steel girder. Defeating St. Johnny did nothing to stop the psychic attacks, however, as the hidden force behind Johnny’s change of heart erupted out of Darkhawk’s amulet, bringing an entire spaceship into this dimension. [Darkhawk (1st series) #23]

As the ship opened, Darkhawk found himself facing a larger, more imposing version of his own armor. Not merely a man in a borrowed suit like Portal, this “Evilhawk” was a true Darkhawk, powered by his own amulet. Evilhawk shrugged off Code: Blue’s efforts and easily overpowered the tired Darkhawk, bringing him aboard his ship. Evilhawk also spoke of “mind-death” and wanted Darkhawk to change back to Chris, so as apparently to take his mortal form for his own purposes. Still, Chris managed to revert to human and back to Darkhawk without Evilhawk gaining control of his amulet, rejuvenating his android form for another fight. Darkhawk escaped the ship and battled Evilhawk in the skies over New York, even temporarily beating his counterpart. This angered Evilhawk beyond reason and (momentarily forgetting he needed Darkhawk alive) Evil unleashed a blast from his amulet that completed disintegrated Chris where he stood. [Darkhawk (1st series) #24]

Or rather, disintegrated Darkhawk. Instead of dying, Chris’ consciousness snapped back to his real body when Darkhawk was destroyed, causing him to see for the first time where his body went when they swapped. He found himself on a Perch, inside what appeared to be a spaceship, in a dimension called Null Space. The ship had a living consciousness called Osch, who explained to Chris the alleged origins of Darkhawk.

Osch related how an intergalactic crimelord named Dargin Bokk wanted to create powerful but expendable agents for his service. He assembled a team of scientists from various worlds into Null Space to construct these android operatives. Each of the first five prototype “Darkhawks” was linked to a Perch through Null Space via their amulets. A user could transposition their bodies through the amulet, summoning a Darkhawk from a Perch and inhabiting it while their real body went into stasis on the Perch.

Dargin Bokk was a brutal taskmaster, and his pet scientists decided to rebel using the Darkhawk bodies. In the melee that followed, Dargin Bokk killed one of his betrayers and seized their amulet for himself, becoming Evilhawk. Unfamiliar with the body’s powers, Evilhawk accidentally blew a hole in the side of the Darkhawk ship, damaging the craft and creating an explosion that destroyed his living body and those of the other users. Trapped as Evilhawk now, Bokk escaped while the scientist Osch’s mind was absorbed into the ship’s mainframe and two more scientists telepathically projected their minds to Earth, ultimately inhabiting the bodies of two homeless men, St. Johnny and Darkhawk’s immediate predecessor, Ned Dobbs. They forged a sixth amulet (a recreation of the one once used by Dobbs, and linked to his Darkhawk body), but each man now housed two minds, and they succumbed to bouts of incoherency, hampering their progress. The amulet was left in the abandoned Wonderland fun house they haunted, where it was eventually found by Chris Powell.

As Chris was processing all this, Evilhawk realized his prey may still be alive in Null Space. Bokk intended to seize Chris’ living body as his own after the destruction of his original form, once “mind-death” removed the pesky teenager’s existing consciousness from his prize. Evilhawk threatened the Powells in order to force the revived St. Johnny to send him to Null Space and the ship. Bokk exerted greater control over the ship than Osch once he arrived, and Chris was re-captured. Using Chris’ own amulet and his connection to it, Evilhawk attempted to impose his mind onto the link between them, erasing Chris’ mind and taking his body in the process.

Chris’ mind proved incredibly formidable, however, and the feedback his resistance created temporarily disabled Evilhawk’s technology. Chris observed that his Darkhawk body had been rebuilt and repaired on the Perch (as it always was by the ship’s automated systems), and so he triggered the change through the amulet and reassumed his identity as Darkhawk. Chris and Bokk fought again in the ship, and Evilhawk spitefully prepared to atomize Chris’ human body on the Perch, since he couldn’t claim it himself. Darkhawk was prepared this time and interposed his energy shield between his body and Evilhawk’s disintegrator burst, turning the blast back on Bokk and destroying Evilhawk’s form. With only Evilhawk’s amulet left behind, Darkhawk reconnected with Osch and befriended the alien scientist in order to get a trip back to Earth via a Null Space teleportation device. Chris reunited with his family and, while their home was damaged and his brothers terrorized by his foes, Chris Powell felt confident he had turned a corner, now that he knew the truth about Darkhawk. [Darkhawk (1st series) #25]

[Note: He did not know the truth about Darkhawk.]

The consequences of Chris’ life as Darkhawk came back to haunt him as he was suspended from school for his absences and lack of attention. His principal and faculty advisor even cautioned Grace that Chris’ behavior had many of the traditional signs of drug use. The Powells struggled to hold together after their house was severely damaged following the Evilhawk battle. Chris, Grace and the twins were forced to live out of a small hotel room until the house was fixed, their extended family and friends still avoiding them due to the black cloud surrounding Mike’s death. Chris couldn’t explain his behavior to Grace or his friends without explaining his actions as Darkhawk. His relationship with Cheryl ended permanently due to the distance and lack of trust between them.

In search of some kind of support structure, Darkhawk visited the New Warriors at their Crash Pad. The team of teenaged super-heroes provided the best sounding board Darkhawk had found yet for his secret identity problems and growing responsibilities, but even so he couldn’t bring himself to trigger the amulet and truly approach the Warriors as Chris Powell. Their mash session was interrupted by the arriving Time Cube of Zarrko the Tomorrow Man, who wanted to use Darkhawk and the New Warriors as pawns against his rivals Kang and Ravonna. As payment for their help, Zarrko offered each of the Warriors the opportunity to go back in time and correct their greatest mistake. The Warriors debated whether to accept Zarrko’s offer, and Darkhawk was ultimately the swing vote towards taking the deal, as he dreamed of returning to Althea Island to save his father.

Zarrko dropped Darkhawk and the Warriors off in Chronopolis, the extra-temporal stronghold of Ravonna. While making his way towards the central citadel, Darkhawk passed through the portion of Chronopolis representing the year 2099, and learned he was destined to become a figure of major importance in that timeline. Zarrko naturally intended to betray the Warriors, but Darkhawk managed to bluff the Tomorrow Man that he installed a Null Space bomb from Osch back on the Time Cube. The Warriors tried to force Zarrko into fulfilling his deal and sending them back in time, but they were pulled back to the Time Cube before they could make changes to the timeline. Chris emerged in the skies over Althea Island that fateful day, but his glider wings had been damaged fighting in Chronopolis. To his surprise, Darkhawk learned to access innate flight powers in his android body which he never knew about before, allowing him to level off even without his wings. This new power wasn’t the biggest shock of his trip, though. As Darkhawk tried to return to the beach where he fought Bazin, he observed a mysterious rescue party arrive to treat Mike Powell and Philippe Bazin. While past Darkhawk was still unconscious from his fight with Lodestone, present Darkhawk observed as his dad and Bazin were declared alive and whisked away for further treatment. Darkhawk returned to the Time Cube before he learned any more, but now he had hope that his father was still alive and out there somewhere. [Darkhawk (1st series) #26-29]