Darkhawk: Legacy of the Stone
Chad Bowers and Chris Sims reveal an epic Marvel Legacy resurrection!
22 years ago, DARKHAWK #50 marked the end of the character’s solo series. One of the most popular heroes created by Marvel in the 1990s, Darkhawk’s time as a standalone went on permanent hiatus.
We caught up with Chris and Chad to see how they balance the ‘Hawk’s past and future without succumbing to nostalgia’s siren song.
Marvel.com: Over the course of his existence, we’ve seen a lot of different facets of Darkhawk. He’s been a street-level hero, a disillusioned part-timer, a cosmic adventurer, and, ultimately, an unwilling inheritor of the legacy of Raptors—a brutal group of aliens devoted to exerting their will on the galaxy. What version of Darkhawk do we see in issue #51?
Chad Bowers: I actually think he’s a bit of them all. I think we start off with one foot in the classic street-level Darkhawk stuff, then we blend in the cosmic elements. Our story definitely takes place in New York with [Darkhawk’s alter-ego] Chris Powell—and then something happens that pulls the cosmic stuff back into his life on Earth.
Chris Sims: Chris Powell has such a weird origin. He gets this power after he finds a magic jewel from outer space—so he’s instantly tied to something bigger than you see for, I guess, the first year of that whole comic. He doesn’t know what he’s a part of for so long in that original run of DARKHAWK. It has that air of mystery.
Chad Bowers: Definitely. He has a mysterious origin and mysterious powers; there are mysterious elements to almost everything about him. So we played up that aspect a bit in this book. That’s what I’ve always liked about Darkhawk—you didn’t know everything about him right out of the gate.
Marvel.com: Early on, he was essentially a man living inside an alien that fought corrupt cops—cops including his father.
Chad Bowers: And that kind of plays into our story, too. That legacy of law enforcement and Darkhawk’s run-ins with crooked cops. That’s definitely a part of our story. That’s as much Chris Powell’s setting as his family and his brother. Being surrounded by law enforcement serves as his version of The Daily Bugle, I think.
Marvel.com: Chris Powell has experienced quite the transition over the years—from his start as a Peter Parker character, to his roles in RUNAWAYS and THE LONERS, to finding out about the Raptors. So, who is he? What’s he like now?
Chris Sims: Chad and I are actually both huge DARKHAWK fans. I read every issue. I saw the character and really wanted to get into it.
Chad Bowers: Actually, that’s something we keep hearing. So many people are jealous they aren’t the ones bringing him back because they like him so much. That’s exciting.
Chris Sims: I think RUNAWAYS really reintroduced him—when we saw him with the Loners. At 15 years old, he should not have been fighting the Hobgoblin, getting shot at, and having to deal with space stuff because that’s a really hard life.
Chad Bowers: He wanted to protect other people from the stuff he had to deal with—that becomes an interesting part of his character and changes his relationship with his own heroic identity. He went through all that and still had to put on a Darkhawk costume and go do ANNIHILATION stuff, go do WAR OF KINGS stuff. Because, again, he’s a part of something bigger than himself.
Chris Sims: Chad and I really wanted to ask what Chris Powell wants from life. Does he want to be Darkhawk? Does he still believe in the thing he believed as a kid, because it’s been a while—he’s in his early 20s. Do you still believe the things you did when you were 15? Would you still make those decisions? How do you not allow the decisions of your youth trap you as an adult? How do they change your life as an adult?
Marvel.com: You mentioned blending genres and perspectives in your story—with Kevin Walker on board as the artist, how does he enable that? How has that collaborative process been?
Chad Bowers: We are super excited to have Kevin after seeing what he did on AVENGERS ARENA and how he draws Darkhawk. I think his art has a spooky undertone to it at times. We definitely wanted to start issue #51 off with a little bit of horror, especially in those first couple of pages. I really can’t wait to see what Kevin does with that. I think that’s probably what I’m most excited about.
Chris Sims: Chad and I are both huge, huge fans of Kev Walker. When we heard he joined, it was another one of those “dream come true” moments. I remember reading the THUNDERBOLTS issues he did with [writer] Jeff Parker and thinking, “This is just so good. This is what comics should look like.”
The way he does expressiveness and larger-than-life characters—even when he draws someone standing around, they’re still taking up space in a way that says something about who they are. Getting to see that artist tackle a design like Darkhawk—how can you not be excited about that?
Chad Bowers: Once Kevin came on board, we thought about the setting a lot—about what we’d really like to see him draw. So the characters aren’t just around buildings or just around forests. We wanted to really emphasize setting because I think Walker does a really great job at that.
In our story, Chris goes back to the Wonderland theme park we see in the first issue of DARKHAWK. So it’s really dilapidated—it was old and rundown when we saw it back then so, continuity-wise, seven or eight years later, it looks in terrible shape. With regard to Kevin’s skill set, I wrote to the setting most.
Chris Sims: The great thing about being a writer is that you can get away with writing, “Darkhawk’s armor looks even cooler than it did at the start of the story,” when Kev Walker draws your book.
Chad Bowers: And when the classic razor armor shows up, it will already have been put through the ringer—so it’s going to be pretty beat up. I like the wear and tear Kev puts on stuff.
Marvel.com: You mentioned the police corruption and Wonderland. For long-time fans, are there other elements that call back to Darkhawk’s history? Villains? Family?
Chad Bowers: When we started playing around with it and learning more about Gerry Duggan’s ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY run, it just felt natural to have him come up against a couple of the Raptors. We wanted to go towards the future while running a spotlight over the past.
Chris Sims: It was tough for us. How do you introduce DARKHAWK to new readers? How do you make people care about Chris Powell? What’s the action scene and how does it play into that?
Looking into the larger context of the Raptors in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, it’s a lot to balance. To be honest, I think it could be a little intimidating to step up to that, but we really wanted to give people a Darkhawk that can move forward.
Marvel.com: At Marvel, you’ve done a limited series, an ongoing, an annual—but this will be your first full issue one-shot. What kind of challenges and opportunities does that present creatively?
Chris Sims: We’ve done a couple of shorter stories. [In CIVIL WAR II: CHOOSING SIDES,] we did a Damage Control story with [artist] Nick Romero and a Nick Fury story with [artists] Danilo Beyruth and Brian Level, who are all amazing collaborators, but the challenge of the one-shot is only having 20 pages to tell a narrative.
You don’t want to start something you can’t finish and you don’t want to feel super rushed, but you want to give readers something they can pick up and be satisfied with. We want to work in action and something that makes Darkhawk’s uniqueness clear.
Chad and I have a friend who loves GHOST RIDER. He gave us a piece of advice that I think we’ve both really taken to heart. He said, “Every issue of GHOST RIDER should have something that only a guy with a flaming skull on a motorcycle can do.”
So we had to figure out the one thing that only Darkhawk can do. I think we found a good solution to that.
Marvel.com: Speaking to new fans, what would you say to get them on board?
Chris Sims: Well, it’s by us. We’re pretty good.
Chad Bowers: If you are a Marvel fan, you love big characters who still have a foot in our world. I think making Chris the connective tissue for readers is the way to do that—to make him his own guy.
Plenty of people have done that before us—Brian K. Vaughn, C.B. Cebulski, Andy Lanning, Danny Fingeroth—but making Chris a modern guy who gets thrust into a situation he thought he left behind can be such an interesting thing.
Chris Sims: One of the questions we were asked is, “Do you think Darkhawk can be a major player in the Marvel Universe?” We love him, but “major player” could be the wrong title, because there’s so much cool stuff you can do with a character who exists on the edges.
But sometimes a character on the edge becomes a major player. In 2007, who would’ve thought that the Guardians of the Galaxy would be major players 10 years later? But here they are—a centerpiece—on a team with Groot and Rocket Raccoon!
We get to do cool stuff with Darkhawk that we couldn’t do with Spider-Man, or Iron Man, or Captain America. DARKHAWK is about the decisions you made in the past that maybe you regret, but they made you who you are. I think that’s the core of the adult Chris Powell. He’s on a path that he would’ve changed if he knew where he’d end up. But none of us have that choice—maybe him most of all.
Witness the epic return with DARKHAWK #51—by Chris Bowers, Chris Sims, and artist Kevin Walker—on November 29!
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