DARKHAWK: Page 7 of 8

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


Having struggled with anger management issues since adopting the Darkhawk identity, Chris felt himself inching closer towards losing control completely. Intense nightmares started to plague his subconscious, leaving him uncomfortable in his own skin. Chris wanted to stop operating as Darkhawk and moved out west to Los Angeles in order to find a new start. While in LA, he met up with Mickey Musashi, whom he knew as Turbo from the auxiliary New Warriors. Mickey and Phil Urich (the “good” Green Goblin) had started a support group for former teenaged super-heroes called Excelsior. Along with other members such as Julie Power of Power Pack and Johnny Gallo (formerly Ricochet of the short-lived Slingers), they were hoping to provide a network for younger heroes to move on from crime-fighting and find support from others trying to do the same.

Despite the group’s mandate, Excelsior found themselves being tempted back into uniform. Their support group was offered $1 million in operating costs by Rick Jones to locate the truant super-powered children of the Pride and return them to social services. Helping super-teens fit their mission statement, and so Mickey and Phil couldn’t turn down the opportunity. Chris was among those in Excelsior worried about putting the costume back on, even for a good cause. His concerns proved valid, because using the amulet as Darkhawk pushed Chris’ rage and aggression levels to their limits once Excelsior got into the field. Darkhawk used excessive force to bring down the runaways’ getaway vehicle, and then in fighting the kids one-on-one. Turbo was forced to square off against Darkhawk in order to get him to back down.

After that exchange, Chris begged off any future field engagements. The runaways escaped their last encounter, so Chris stayed behind to monitor police radio and social media reports for when the Pride kids resurfaced. However, Excelsior soon found the runaways in pitched combat with a version of the Avengers’ greatest foe, Ultron. Hearing the fight over the comms, Chris pulled out the amulet and flew to join his friends. This Ultron was weaker than the traditionally Adamantium version of the killer robot, but it was still an impressive win when Darkhawk destroyed Ultron in single combat with his amulet’s force blast. The runaways got away, but Rick Jones was still interested in supporting Excelsior in looking after at-risk and super-powered youths. [Runaways (2nd series) #1-6]

The Superhuman Registration Act changed things for the group, though. The clampdown and restrictions on super-powered activity in America drove Mickey and Phil back to their original plan for the support group – moving on from the costumed lifestyle instead of embracing it and the trouble that came with it. It wasn’t easy. Chris believed (or at least convinced himself) that he was connected to the amulet in a way that he couldn’t part from it. As a result, it was a constant temptation hanging around his neck. And with the Excelsior group already a metaphor for addiction, their newest member Mattie Franklin was an “enabler.” Formerly the teenaged Spider-Woman, Mattie came out west mostly looking to recruit super-heroes from the group to help her settle old scores with the MGH drug peddlers who abused her. Mattie appealed to Chris’ pride to convince him to help her shut them down, redeeming his old press as “Drughawk.” Chris and Mickey had begun seeing each other romantically outside of the group, but Mattie convinced Chris to keep their “super-heroing” a secret.

The MGH situation inevitably got out of control when Darkhawk and Ricochet helped Mattie attack the drug factory and released some of the super-beings being harvested. One named Hollow accidentally hurt Lightspeed when she arrived on the scene, exposing the undercover super-hero work to Mickey and Phil. Phil was furious he was losing control of the group, and Mickey was hurt by Chris lying to her, as well as jealous of the time he was spending with Mattie. They came out to the others about their relationship, but that only further hurt Phil, who harbored his own feelings for Mickey.

Phil started to succumb to madness thanks to the chemicals that turned him into the Green Goblin years earlier. He confronted Chris and Mickey at her apartment and surprisingly stole Chris’ amulet, using it to turn into a Goblin-colored Darkhawk. Even more shocking was when Chris instinctively lunged for his amulet on Goblinhawk’s chest and, upon touching it, transformed himself into a second Darkhawk. Chris and Phil rumbled with one another as Darkhawks, bringing out the entire Excelsior group to oppose Phil. Phil was beaten and stripped of the amulet, which was returned to Chris. The group was shaken to their core after losing one of their founders, and Chris was confronted again with just how many mysteries still surrounded the Darkhawk amulet and its powers. [Loners #1-6]

Despite his efforts with Mickey and the group, Chris couldn’t give up being Darkhawk. His connection to the amulet was too strong, and he felt the need to use it. Chris and Mickey broke up as he refused to follow the group’s goals of moving on from super-heroics. Still, he put effort into making productive use of his life and abilities. Chris moved back home to Queens and finally came clean with his family about his life as Darkhawk. He officially registered under the Initiative and worked with Justice of the New Warriors to get a job as security chief at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. The energy research group in upstate New York had a long history of employing super-heroes as security due to their super-villain containment wing for energy experiments. Chris was back with his family, with a steady job exploiting his connection to the amulet, and attending therapy to control his anger management issues.

Darkhawk’s troubles started again when the Skrulls invaded Earth and made the exotic technology archives at P.E.G.A.S.U.S. one of their targets. Darkhawk and the Guardsmen held the line at P.E.G.A.S.U.S. until they received unexpected support from Rich Rider, Nova. Rich’s brother Robbie Rider was a technician at P.E.G.A.S.U.S., so Nova came to the facility to check on him after hearing of the Skrull invasion. Darkhawk and Nova secured the facility, and even managed to revive the former security chief Quasar for additional aid. Chris was very impressed by how Rich had grown since their days in the New Warriors. Nova was now Centurion Prime of the Nova Corps, a veteran of the Annihilation War and respected throughout the major galaxies, a reputation Darkhawk could only dream of achieving. [Nova (4th series) #17-19]

Chris was already feeling outclassed next to Rich when the amulet began acting up again. Vector of the U-Foes escaped from P.E.G.A.S.U.S., and tried to rip out Darkhawk’s amulet when Chris confronted him. It was as if the amulet took over in self-defense and Darkhawk severely wounded his opponent. He even lashed out in frustration after losing control and struck Doctor Necker of P.E.G.A.S.U.S. when she got too close. Afraid all his progress with anger management and therapy was coming undone, Chris went back to Mickey at Excelsior looking for help. They spent the night talking and reconnected, as Mickey helped Chris work through his emotions. Back at his house in Queens, though, the amulet started burning, signaling the arrival of ANOTHER Darkhawk crashing into the backyard.

This new being, who called himself Talon, brought chaos to the Powell home. A hunter drone chasing him damaged the house and sent Grace Powell to the hospital. As Darkhawk battled the drone, Chris found his armor could spontaneously reconfigure into a new, more powerful form. After getting his mother to the hospital, Darkhawk confronted Talon and learned he was supposedly part of a brotherhood known as the Fraternity of Raptors. The history Chris thought he knew about the Darkhawk amulet was a lie, a corruption of the Raptor Datasong flowing through his head. Talon explained the Raptor amulets weren’t designed with humans in mind – this incompatibility meant Darkhawk couldn’t understand the information being fed to him by his armor, and his bouts of anger and instability were a consequence of this problem. The Raptors had been gone from the universe for millennia, and Talon only recently returned and sought out Chris’ amulet in an effort to rebuild the Fraternity. A war between the Shi’ar and Kree had begun, and Talon insisted the Raptors were needed to bring stability to universal culture. Darkhawk chose to accompany Talon into space in order to learn more about his armor and find a way to ward off the madness brought about by the incompatibility problem. [War of Kings: Darkhawk #1-2]

Talon was rather oblique about his training methods, though. He counseled Chris on checking his anger while at the same time dishing out very few answers. He encouraged Chris to learn how to reconfigure his armor on command instead of on impulse, but was unable to spell out a process for achieving this. Claiming Powell was a Designate (or trainee) in the Raptors, the normal training cycle was corrupted by Darkhawk’s human nature and the difficulties it had interfacing with the Raptor amulet. Talon explained that the bonding process between host and amulet was incomplete, and his efforts were intended to bridge that gap and allow the full awareness of the Datasong to enter Chris’ mind, as it was meant to do. The Datasong was a sort of hive mind that connected Raptors with each others’ experiences, as well as the accumulated knowledge and experiences of all Raptors throughout history. Through the Datasong, the Raptors served the Great Purpose, using their extensive knowledge of galactic history to predict upcoming events and shape the future of empires.

Talon hoped Darkhawk could learn on the job as they entered the Negative Zone and approached the Heteropteron of Catastrophus, custodian of the Annihilation Wave after the defeat of Annihilus. Talon intended to retrieve Annihilus’ Cosmic Control Rod as a useful piece in the War of Kings. When they engaged the chitinauts at the fortress, though, Talon feigned injury and provoked Darkhawk into reconfiguring on his own. In full combat mode, Darkhawk slaughtered his way through the Negative Zone inhabitants, just as Talon intended. As Chris fully connected to the Datasong at the Null Source, he began to see the true nature of the Fraternity of Raptors: kidnappings, sedition, counter-intelligence, assassination, all in the furtherance of their “purpose” and to the detriment of all other civilized beings. And now that Chris was reconnected to the Datasong, Talon could expunge the human parasite from the Raptor amulet, bringing forth the personality of the true brother Raptor that lay submerged beneath. With this final act, Chris Powell was gone and in the Darkhawk armor there remained only… Razor. [War of Kings: Ascension #1]

While Talon and Razor continued their plans for the Shi’ar Empire and the War of Kings, Chris found himself in the true Null Space for the first time. The Null Source for the Fraternity was the Tree of Shadows, growing crystal cocoons paired with individual Raptor amulets. The Raptors were mechanoids linked to the Null Source through their amulets, and using living hosts as batteries to power themselves. Under normal conditions, a Raptor would trade places with the amulet host in both body and mind, replacing them in normal space while condemning the host to Null Space inside their crystal cocoon until they were drained dry.

Chris was an anomaly because humans had arisen in known space after the Raptors fell over 6,000 years ago, and the amulets weren’t programmed to work against them. As Darkhawk, Chris had managed to summon a Raptor body and unknowingly supplant its mind with his own. His inability to process the Datasong as a compatible host led to instability and hallucinations, including the entire fabricated story of Dargin Bokk and the old origin of the amulets he had believed.

Chris left his cocoon and found the only other active crystal on the Tree of Shadows, representing Talon’s amulet. Inside it, he conversed with Talon’s victim host, the Skrull Grand Commander Jeeku. As the Skrull shared with Chris what he had learned about the Raptors, Powell lamented his inability to control his amulet properly. Jeeku corrected him that in truth Chris could not BE controlled by the amulet properly. As a foreign species, Chris was a threat the orderly Raptors had not prepared for, and his ability to summon a Raptor body and control it with his own willpower terrified Talon. In fact, Jeeku pointed out that Chris wasn’t even physically present in the Skrull’s cocoon – the human had mentally projected his mind free of the cocoon, an unprecedented display in Raptor history for hosts. By focusing his anger instead of running from it, Chris was able to overpower Razor’s mind and banish the Raptor back into Null Space, reclaiming the Darkhawk body for himself. [War of Kings: Ascension #2-3]

Unfortunately, Razor had just assassinated the Shi’ar Empress-in-exile Lilandra as she tried to reclaim her throne. [War of Kings #4] Darkhawk was left holding the gun and facing down Gladiator and the Starjammers. Chris barely survived by changing back into himself and escaping into the chaos of the riots on Chandrilar. Talon sensed Chris’ return and tried to restore Razor through the Datasong. Chris remained in control and bluffed Talon as if he were Razor long enough to track him down and engage the other Raptor. They fought through a Shi’ar vessel before Darkhawk used Talon’s own trick against him and expelled him back to the Null Source, allowing Jeeku to rematerialize in his place. The Skrull general was grateful for the rescue, but he chose to end his own life rather than allow Talon to reassert himself. Before he threw himself into the ship’s warp engine, Jeeku extracted a promise from Chris that he would find the Raptor amulets and prevent the Fraternity from regaining a foothold on the universe. Darkhawk accepted this new mission in life, dedicating himself to stopping the Fraternity of Raptors while on the run from the Shi’ar as the galaxy’s most wanted after Lilandra’s assassination. [War of Kings: Ascension #4]