Trying to explain racism to people who have never experienced it is definitely a difficult task. The main problem for me is trying to stay calm throughout the conversation. When I was a kid, I experienced racism, but not too much. My parents did a good job keeping me away from neighborhoods and people that were racist. All of my friends were black growing up too. The school I went to was mostly white, so I wasn’t completely shielded from different types of people. As I went through high school, I realized that white kids usually are more accepting of black people when they joke about their race. Jokes mainly about how dark we are, black people tendencies, and the occasional fried chicken jokes can get you far in high school. I noticed that and it worked well for me. High School is a broken system though. Whether you live in Detroit or Jacksonville, every high school is different, yet they are all the same in a way. When you figure out how to work the system, life can be pretty easy. Of course, our teen years suck for a bevy of reasons, but high school can be figured out. That’s the thing about the real world though. Life is a different beast. It’s a system that doesn’t make too much sense. The smartest men in the world can’t predict everything that’ll happen in life. So when I got into college, I started to experience racism a bit more. Sure, I had experienced it with cops and old people at Wal-Mart, but never in a school setting. It threw me off to hear students calling BLM protestors monkeys and to hear them call me a nigger. Nothing prepares you for that type of racism. Nothing. I’m rambling about my life because during my time in college, I experienced what some experts call Black Rage.
The term Black Rage was first brought up psychiatrists William H. Grier and Price M. Cobbs. The basic idea is that racism makes black people go insane. Black Rage suggests that racism and oppression will make a person do things they wouldn’t do in a normal state of mind. Now, I know how that sounds. A lot of people, myself included, think that most psychiatric jargon is a bunch of nonsense. Still, they are developed after years of study and research. Don’t ever let someone tell you Psychology is a waste of a major (or any major for that matter. College is a lot like High School. Once you figure out the system, you can do whatever you want.) When theories or research comes across our Twitter feeds, it’s easy to dismiss them based on our own knowledge or experiences. I’m learning to open myself up more when someone begins to tell me about situations I can only dream about. It’s humbling, but needed to understand everyone’s point of view. Black Rage is real. When students would call me nigger I began to shake. In my head, I know I’m not a just some “nigger.” Not at all actually. I know who I am and what I stand for. But hearing white students call me that did something to me. My stomach got butterflies. I couldn’t tell you why, but it happened. They were the type of butterflies you get on that first drop down the new roller coaster at an amusement park. My hands began shaking too. Uncontrollably. I felt like I was going to be sick. I knew these kids didn’t like me. Of course, race goes through my head when dealing with white people, but I think of it as a last resort. In my head I try to think of all the other reasons someone could possibly hate me before I think of race. When I realized those students hated me just for that reason, I almost became sick. In that moment, I wanted to fight them, hurt them in fact. I had to contain myself because I knew a foolish mistake could send me down a path I wasn’t ready to go down. The justice system would’ve swallowed me up like a hungry sumo wrestler after a fast. My face would’ve been plastered on the news as a criminal who hurt or even worse, killed some innocent white boys who had never done any wrong to anyone. That’s Black Rage. Most logical people would agree that those students shouldn’t be allowed to say that right? But most logical people also know there isn’t a real punishment for saying that unless it’s broadcasted to the world. That sense of hopelessness is Black Rage personified. That emptiness you get in your heart until it turns into hate. Whenever you feel anything other than hate, let’s say sadness or envy, the original feeling of hate in your heart just multiplies. Why? Because that shit is easy. It’s easy to hate every single white person. Because they represent a system that wasn’t created for you in the first place. Sure you can go through life, work at Google, have a couple of white friends, hell even run a business where most of your employees are white. But at the end of the day, Black Rage lies deep within you because of our society. Our American society to be specific. Our American society that will teach students that Malcolm X was violent and that MLK held cookouts with any KKK member who will listen. Our American society that will look you dead in the face and wear Native American outfits on Halloween because it’s fun. Our American society that refuses to look backwards at our terrible past. Chalks it up as a couple of missteps towards our manifest destiny. It’s all a bunch of crap and Raymond Kane knows it.
Don’t know who Raymond Kane is? Don’t worry you aren’t the only one. I only heard of this character a couple of months ago. I’m always on the lookout for different types of comics. I love Marvel and DC but sometimes the same Batman and Avengers stories bore me (although almost nothing in comics beats a perfectly written Batman story.) I like new takes on things every once in a while. It keeps things fresh. Though I had heard the name Nighthawk before in Marvel comics, I had never read any of the original titles. I came across this title kind of by mistake. There have been many characters in the past with the title of Nighthawk. This current one is the newest version. He’s a vigilante that’s fighting crime in the city of Chicago. We all know what Chicago’s about right? The media and politicians would have you believe Chicago is the epicenter of black people in America. Not a good epicenter either. Chicago is painted like Iraq in ways that make Iraq look like Disneyland. Yes, the city has problems. But the media is using it as a scapegoat whenever they talk about crime within the black community. A shield I guess if you will. All they have to say is, “Man, have you seen how crazy it’s gotten in Chicago? Doesn’t make any sense man,” and they’re good. Anyways, this is where Nighthawk does business. I picked up this title not knowing anything about this character. His backstory, his fighting abilities, I knew nothing. I was excited as hell to jump into this issue.
Things start off with some real life dialogue. Writer David F. Walker establishes the tone and setting of this story from the first sentence. A television is playing. A group of guys is watching the news broadcast talking about a shooting. This isn’t an ordinary shooting though. A white, male, police officer killed an unarmed black, male teen. The story seems all too similar, I know. The image on the television shows a normal cop, and a teen who reminds me of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Laquan Macdonald. The group of guys watching the news broadcast? A group of white supremacists known as the True Patriots. Walker’s writing here is brilliant. One of the guys says, “I’m sick of these liberals talkin’ like the cops are the problem. Like these niggers (the word was censored but pretty sure that’s what he said) ain’t runnin’ around killin’ each other all the time.” This line is brilliant because it isn’t just white supremacists dealing weapons saying lines like this. No, this is Betty down in Accounting, or Mark who changes your tires. The point of this dialogue is to show how silly it is to relate two issues like black-on-black crime and police brutality. But people, whether they’re a weapons dealer or a 9-5’er, think this way. We then get introduced to Tilda. She’s Nighthawk’s Alfred. She’s in his ear talking to him about his mission. She wants to know if his communication is working and asks him to say something. Nighthawk does just that and responds, “Something.” He then swoops down and begins beating the mess out of the True Patriots. Nighthawk doesn’t have any powers. He doesn’t even have that many gadgets. His suit is cool though. Definitely something he made himself. On that page, you can clearly see he’s wearing a pair of Yeezy boots too. Pretty funny if you ask me. During the fight, Tilda provides readers with some entertaining commentary. She isn’t annoying at all either. Walker establishes Nighthawk as a dark character from the first couple of pages, so it’s apparent that Tilda’s jokes will definitely be welcomed as the story carries on.
She continues to mess with him about his lack of one-liners. As she talks, Nighthawk continues to batter the Patriots. The coolest thing Nighthawk uses are these drones that look like owls. The Patriots had weapons for days at their hideout. Nighthawk decides to blow it up so no one can use it again. He sets the bird to self-destruct, and watches the hideout explode into pieces. Tilda then begins to scold him about his destructive ways. Nighthawk doesn’t take any prisoners. Any Patriot that was alive after Nighthawk broke his leg, died with those firearms. Tilda tells him that violence isn’t always the answer. Nighthawk tells her to shut it though. He tells her that she’s starting to sound like his mother. A flashback then comes up. It’s a young Raymond Kane sitting in the backseat of his parent’s car. His mother is telling him that rage will eat you up inside. That it will make you become someone you’re not, even though there is a lot to be angry about. It’s a powerful message and ties directly into what I was talking about earlier.
Nighthawk is established as a mission first type of guy. That’s refreshing to see too. Every hero doesn’t need to have banter with their friends or sidekick. Nighthawk and Tilda then listen in on a conversation being had at a crime scene. One of their drones is there. This is where we get our first taste of the “villain.” The cops come across a gross crime scene. It’s part of a string of murders where the killer has written the word reveal on the wall each time. The cops call him the Revelator. Nighthawk is annoyed that the cops seem to be having fun with the case, not trying to solve it. The Revelator is an interesting villain in the sense that he kills people who have wronged minorities. No one is going to miss his victims. Nighthawk doesn’t condone his actions, but he can’t help but feel a bit good inside now that these people are dead. The story is setting up for an interesting meeting between the two. A sort of like a Daredevil/Punisher dynamic is brewing here.
What makes this issue a solid introduction is the world building. The issue transitions to a real estate developer. Dan Hanrahan is watching the news. He’s noticing that the bulk of the news is still talking about the police shooting. He’s on the phone with a police officer. Officer Dixon is introduced as a crooked cop who is investigating the building that Nighthawk blew up. There isn’t any guessing by Dixon, which I like. He knows Nighthawk did this and it makes this world feel more believable.
The next page is a great character moment for Raymond Kane. He’s in the shower. That same quote from his mom in the flashback is going through his head as he showers. She tells him not to get consumed by rage. As the words continue, images of him brutally beating (and possibly killing) the True Patriots pop up. Raymond is visibly angry and upset. He screams in the shower and the next image is a bloody Nighthawk standing over the Patriots. The art here by Ramon Villalobos is fantastic. The pain on Raymond’s face is palpable. Walker’s use of that quote is great because Nighthawk truly has rage in his heart due to racism. It consumes him to the point where he has to go out and beat on people. But at the same time, it’s tearing him apart.
Raymond then meets up with the crooked real estate developer Hanrahan. They meet in a part of town that is run down. Some would call it the ghetto, the projects, whatever you call it, the neighborhood sucks. The two men have completely different ideas on what to do for the neighborhood. It’s clear that Kane has money. How much is never stated, but enough that Hanrahan considers him a threat. They do some verbal sparring for a bit over their opposing views. Hanrahan starts to spew some racist garbage about the condition of the city. How crime is out of control. He compares the people in the neighborhood to animals with rabies. He then explains to Raymond that he needs someone like him to back his play. Raymond has no interest in being the black poster boy for a racist, so he declines. This is a cool moment because the world building feels legit. Hanrahan isn’t a villain who’s trying to build bombs and armies. No, he’s evicting people from their homes and tearing down those homes. He doesn’t necessarily hate black people, but their well-being is literally the last thing on his mind. He has capital, he has assets so he only cares about people with the same. If something is affecting his bottom line, he will make sure it’s taken care of. He’s one of the most realistic villains in comics today.
The issue ends in a pretty gruesome way. The Revelator is at the house of a judge. He has the judge and his wife tied to chairs. He cuts off the fingers of the wife and forces them down the judge’s mouth. Like I said, a gruesome scene. The judge is confused as to why this is happening. The last page is the Revelator holding a visibly broken judge with a knife to his neck. The Revelator says, “I’m here to reveal the truth. The truth will set you free.”
Depression is a real problem in our society. Anyone who tells you different, is insensitive and uneducated about mental health. Sometimes, you can’t predict depression. It’s just something that happens. It doesn’t discriminate. Bullying is a big factor when it comes to why people have depression. Our society recognizes that bullying is low. It’s as low as you can get honestly. Treating someone poorly just because you can is not what we’re meant to do. My point is that society as a whole has come together to realize that bullying can lead to depression, which can lead to do the nicest kids doing irrational things such as suicide or even murder. Black Rage is seriously no different. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned more and more about America’s despicable past. Unbelievable stories such as Black Wall Street make my blood boil. That happened almost 100 years ago. Then today, stories like national anthem protests, and white people’s reaction to it, make you think we haven’t gotten anywhere at all. It makes you sad, discourages you from living your life because you know that society doesn’t care. I wish our society could come together to help young teens and children who experience systematic racism. Because not everyone is not a wealthy, educated, skilled street fight like Raymond Kane. He has the opportunity to channel that energy into people who truly deserve some type of punishment. In reality though, we all aren’t that fortunate. This first issue looked great, the writing was spectacular, and it has me hooked for more. I highly recommend picking it up if you’re in the mood for something different.
I hope you enjoyed this review. If you did, please like and share it on other social media sites. Nighthawk #2 Review is coming up next real soon. Remember to follow me on Twitter @Hero_Review Until next time everyone! Peace, Love, and Comics!