The high-flying Nighthawk manages his anger by punching through the darkness to obliterate all obstacles in his life.
The scion of a wealth and privilege, Kyle Richmond loses both his mother and father in tragic accidents, leaving him with a family business he doesn’t want. To make matters worse, the young man hovers near tragedy when, after repeatedly failing in his school studies at Grayburn University, he nearly kills his girlfriend Mindy in an alcohol-soaked car crash. She ends up crippled, and Richmond’s father, to avoid further scandal, secretly pays Mindy a small fortune to disappear after the accident, telling Kyle she had died. Filled with shame and self-loathing, Kyle allows himself to be expelled from university rather than using his father’s influence to stay in school. Kyle tries to join the military in hopes of dying in combat, but the army rejects him on account of a heart condition. The only course in life he could excel in is that of a useless playboy, while seeking a cure for his heart condition.
Needing super-powered champions to battle the Avengers, the cosmic gamesman En Dwi Gast, AKA the Grandmaster, creates new super-beings in imitation of his one-time pawns the Squadron Supreme, Earth-712’s leading heroes. On that Earth, Kyle Richmond was a Super Hero known as Nighthawk and a founder of the Squadron Supreme. In the “mainstream” reality of Earth-616, the Grandmaster then covertly guides Richmond into becoming a costumed hero by means of a special formula. Craving excitement and hoping to heal his heart, Kyle brews and drinks the formula, which doubles his physical abilities at night through a mystic connection to the cosmic energy source known as the Universal Wellspring.
Undertaking a rigorous exercise program to further enhance his new powers and acquiring high-tech accessories such as a Hawk-Plane, Richmond is soon approached by the Grandmaster, who recruits him alongside other Grandmaster-empowered pawns to form the Squadron Sinister. Like his Earth-712 counterpart, Kyle adopts the costumed identity of Nighthawk.
The group goes head-to-head with the Avengers and later the Defenders until Kyle, injured while betraying the Squadron to help the heroes, realizes the error of his ways. Nighthawk then allies himself with the Defenders to take a path towards true heroics and a life he could be proud of.
Thanks to a strength-enhancing alchemical formula, Richmond’s own natural strength, stamina, constitution, and senses are enhanced to superhuman levels, which double at night and in outer space. His keen fighting skills are augmented by his grasp of tactics and leadership, and his years of occult experiences have awarded him insight into supernatural situations. His powers are briefly increased to unspecified levels by the Universal Wellspring, the source of his powers. He is a skillful acrobat and an experienced unarmed combatant.
Nighthawk’s unique winged costume grants him such advantages as night vision, sharp claws, jet-powered flight, lasers, and defensive capabilities. Nighthawk formerly travels via his Hawk-Plane but having realized its impracticality, prioritizes his jetpack.
Nighthawk possesses a ring enchanted by the Elder God Gaea that allows him to summon the original Defenders when needed. He briefly possesses a mystic “second-sight” which allows him to see the evil actions of others before they occur. Through mystical means, his life force is extended and when this mystic force is disrupted, he’s only mobile at night, leaving him paralyzed during the day.
The Hawk’s Nest
Richmond’s prickly, irascible nature and tendency toward unreasonable anger gains him few true friends during his costume career, but a few individuals may claim to know the real man beneath the mask. These include Dr. Stephen Strange, AKA Doctor Strange, and Brunnhilde, AKA Valkyrie, of the Defenders, his one-time girlfriend Trish Starr, occult adventurer Papa Hagg, and to some extent, the green behemoth alter ego of Bruce Banner, AKA the Hulk.
Others in the hero community tend to give Nighthawk a wide berth when they encounter him, given his hot-headed reputation and frequent unwillingness to cede command during team-ups and group activities.
However, Needing friends and a sense of noble purpose, Richmond tried (mostly in vain) to make the loose-knit Defenders, known as a “non-team”, a more cohesive organization. He even purchases a secluded Long Island riding academy to house teammate Valkyrie’s horse Aragorn, and had the property specially modified to serve as an alternate headquarters for the Defenders (who at that point usually operate out of Dr. Strange’s sanctum).
Richmond takes a romantic interest in his teammate Valkyrie, but discover that the amnesiac warrior woman’s mortal host body had a husband, Jack Norriss, who becomes the Defenders’ ally, to his chagrin. Richmond and Norriss quarrel constantly, presumably due in part to their mutual interest in Valkyrie, though also perhaps because the two obnoxiously outspoken men are too much alike.
Sadly, Richmond scores more adversaries than friends over the years. Chief among them are the villainous Elihas Star, AKA Egghead, the otherworldly Nebulon the Celestial Man, and Chondu the Mystic of the evil Headmen.
Quite possibly the strongest of Nighthawk’s enemies might be said to be Mindy Williams, his college girlfriend whose life is tragically altered by Richmond’s drunk-driving. Mindy’s disturbed mind draws her into years of seeking revenge on Richmond.
Wings of the Warrior
When the Squadron Sinister faced the Avengers, Nighthawk was assigned to capture or destroy the Statue of Liberty, but Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, subdued him. Nighthawk next decided to play solo Super Hero—partly to win the public acclaim he craved, and partly as a stepping stone to political power. Using trickery to make established Super Hero Matt Murdock, AKA Daredevil, seem incompetent by comparison, Nighthawk quickly became a much-beloved New York crime-fighter, though he was secretly letting at least some of the criminals he captured go free, and Daredevil soon tricked Nighthawk into publicly confessing.
Shortly thereafter, Richmond hit a man with his truck, leaving the scene after making sure he was still alive; years later, Kyle would learn this man was the extradimensional Scientist Supreme Yandroth, seeking to manipulate future events. Richmond retired his Nighthawk guise until the Squadron Sinister coerced him into rejoining them; they now worked for the extraterrestrial menace Nebulon the Celestial Man, having agreed to sell him the Earth and to flood the planet for Nebulon’s purposes by melting the polar ice caps with a huge laser. Appalled, Nighthawk called the informal super-hero team known as the Defenders and helped them thwart the Squadron’s scheme, though Richmond was critically injured. To save him, Defenders members Dr. Stephen Strange, Namor McKenzie, AKA Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Hulk, and Valkyrie (Brunnhilde) combined portions of their life forces to heal Richmond mystically.
Donning a new costume complete with a jet pack that enabled him to fly (having realized his Hawk-Plane’s impracticality), Nighthawk quickly became a mainstay of the Defenders. After settling into being a Defender, Richmond began to sink his own fortune into better equipment for his crimefighting, including a new costume and a jetpack that allowed him to fly like his namesake. He also offered a riding academy he owned in the country to house teammate Valkyrie’s horse Aragorn. He further retrofitted the property for the Defenders to use as a headquarters as he worked to bring a kind of organization to the non-team’s activities.
During these times, Richmond developed romantic feelings for his teammate Valkyrie, but when the feelings weren’t reciprocated he struck a new match up for an old flame, Trish Starr. Tragedy followed when an attack by the villain Egghead left Trish without an arm, and Nighthawk without a business manager when the man was discovered to be channeling funds to the racist terrorist group the Sons of the Serpent with Richmond’s knowledge. Out of terrible pangs of guilt over the incident, the wealthy young man sponsored his former manager’s son in his S.H.I.E.L.D. application.
The sinister and strange criminal organization known as the Headmen orchestrated the removal of Richmond’s brain to provide a healthy body for the evil Chondu the Mystic. Eventually the gray matter was replaced by Dr. Tania Belinsky, who also operated as the Russian champion the Red Guardian (later known as Starlight). Later, Nighthawk arranged for Luke Cage to join the Defenders, and took on the leadership post for the group in the absence of its founder, Doctor Strange. Richmond grew more surly, quick to anger, and insecure following those events while he continued work with the non-team at the same time he pursued solo adventures.
Tragedy struck again when Richmond faced trumped up charges of fraud and tax-evasion, in addition to having his identity revealed publicly and his Nighthawk persona ruled illegal. He left the Defenders then, but still maintained his costumed career behind the law’s back with an even more advanced costume and weapons. A mentally disturbed Mindy Williams sought revenge on Richmond, and developed her latent psionic powers with help from the Secret Empire. Mindy’s subsequent assault on Nighthawk left him paralyzed in the daytime, but he persevered through the challenges and shut the Secret Empire down when he uncovered their heinous plot.
Finally, after a long, protracted legal battle, Richmond celebrated being cleared of all charges against him by the authorities. The party didn’t last long, though, and in the wake of being captured by the Secret Empire, Nighthawk was presumed dead while he existed for several years in a fog of amnesia. Disguised as an angel, the demon Mephisto granted him prophetic “visions” that brought him into conflict with Matt Murdock, AKA Daredevil, and provided a one-way trip to Hell for both heroes. Richmond managed to escape the infernal realm and worked to bring the Man Without Fear up and into the light after him. Later, an occult adventurer known as Papa Hagg removed Mephisto’s “gift” from Nighthawk.
When the original Defenders—Doctor Strange, Namor, the Hulk, and Norrin Radd, AKA Silver Surfer, and Samantha Parrington, AKA Valkyrie—were cursed and transformed into the world-dominating Order, Richmond reunited the other Defenders to oppose them alongside Papa Hagg. The Elder God Gaea endowed Nighthawk with the ability to bring the non-team together wherever and whenever the planet needed them most. In addition, his already-existing powers grew stronger due to the Universal Wellspring, a so-called cosmic energy source.
After battling the new Thunderbolts and refusing to join a revived Squadron Sinister, Richmond turned things around to actually lead the Thunderbolts. As with many other events in his life, the alliance with the team was short and swift, and he moved on to first join with the Superhuman Registration Act supporters and then take up arms against them with Captain America’s rebel forces. Troubled by the violent death of William Foster, AKA Goliath, Nighthawk went back to the government’s side and accepted a position as an Initiative instructor and mentor to young heroes-in-training.
Once in law enforcement’s good graces, Richmond tried to wrangle the Defenders into their official ranks, but instead found himself saddled with a new line-up of personalities he didn’t agree with. One battle-gone-badly later and top-cop Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, shut Nighthawk and his team down once and for all, despite Richmond’s protests. Angry at Stark, he hired mercenaries as “Defenders” to clash with the corrupt Brand Corporation, and once again had his super-heroic identity taken away as punishment for his actions.
When the magician Yandroth assembled yet another new Defenders roster, Richmond passed the Nighthawk mantle to Joaquin Pennyworth and stuck around to both advise and financially back their efforts. Still, he couldn’t stay away from the exciting life of a Super Hero long and joined the temporary ranks of the “Fearsome Four” with Jennifer Walters, AKA She-Hulk, Howard the Duck, and the Frankenstein’s Monster to bring a rampaging Ted Sallis, AKA Man-Thing, to heel.