The first two issues of David F. Walker’s comic, Nighthawk, did a brilliant job introducing us to the character of Raymond Kane, aka Nighthawk. He’s a wealthy black man who fights crime on the streets of Chicago. The story is grounded. Racism and racial tension are at the front of the story, just like it is in our country today. Nighthawk focuses on fighting corruption within his city. The first issue saw him blow up a warehouse where a group of white supremacists were smuggling guns. So far, we’ve dealt with the concepts of black rage as well as something I call the hero’s view. To get more understanding on the concept of black rage, go read my review of the first issue, which I’ll link at the bottom. The hero’s view is something everyone within any type of story go through. The second issue brought up the topic of Nighthawk killing the white supremacists in the first issue. His assistant and friend, Tilda mentioned that he isn’t too far from the series main villain, the Revelator. The Revelator has been torturing and killing people who are notorious for their mistreatment of minorities. Nighthawk isn’t shedding any tears for these people dying, but Tilda reminds him that he isn’t far from being the Revelator.
The other villain of this series (who’s so realistic it hurts) is Dan Hanrahan. He’s a crooked, racist real estate investor who was helping the white supremacist group smuggle weapons. He has a cop on his payroll as well. Officer Dixon is a typical crooked cop. Nighthawk has one ally on the force however. Detective Burrell’s heart is in the right place. He’s trying to track down the Revelator as well along side his partner, Nina. All of these pieces were set up in the first two issues. Walker had a great opportunity to turn this series into a thrilling tale combined with action, story, and vivid characters. He had the chance and I think he capitalized on it. This third issue sees Nighthawk crossing yet another line. A line that most people, or heroes for the matter, wouldn’t cross. Wouldn’t dare cross. This third issue explores more of Nighthawk’s hero view as well as the rage within his heart.
The artists were different on this issue, but the comic still has a unique feel. I love the look of Chicago, Nighthawk’s suit, everything about this series looks great.
CROSSING THAT LINE
Nighthawk has tracked another shipment of guns being smuggled into the city of Chicago. This issue wastes no time getting into the action. Three men are driving a truck full of guns. Two are felons and the driver is a cop. Nighthawk makes his presence known by jumping on the top of the car. The image of him on the roof of the car is menacing and the best image of this issue. Tilda is in his ear talking to him. She’s tired of being a sidekick. She wants to be out there helping him kick ass. While she’s talking, Nighthawk fires a harpoon through the car. The harpoon hits one of the felons that’s in the back of the truck. It’s a brutal image. The felon is pulled up in the air, hanging from the top of the truck. Dead as a doorknob. The last thing the cop wants is to get captured with illegal guns in his possession. He slams on the breaks and Nighthawk goes flying off. He’s hurt.
The issue flashbacks about an hour earlier to our two scumbag villains. Dixon and Hanrahan are talking about the current state of their business. David F. Walker’s writing here is too realistic. When I was a kid, I hated watching videos and movies in school about slavery or anything during that time period. Mainly because of the way white kids stared at me throughout, but because slavery isn’t a hard concept to grasp. It was a monstrous time for our country and by the time I was 13 I completely understood almost every aspect of how terrible it was. So now, I don’t watch any movies with that type of extreme racism because it’s pointless. Maybe they’re made so white people can get in touch with their feelings, you know, make themselves feel good. Maybe they’re made so blacks can always remember where they come from, and who they are. Either way, they are hard to watch and pointless at the end of the day. During Dixon and Hanrahan’s conversation, they talk about how the city is on the brink of chaos ever since Officer O’Neil wasn’t charged in the killing of Latron Stannis, who was 13 years old. Well, Dixon didn’t necessarily use that type of language when describing Stannis. His exact words were “Colored gangbanger.” That hurts because Stannis was just a kid. Is a kid capable of killing people and being a gangbanger? Sure, but the likelihood of that being true in the case of Officer O’Neil is extremely low. My stomach turned as I read this because Hanrahan just stands there listening to Dixon. They continue to talk as if Dixon didn’t just devalue the life of a 13 year old boy. Hanrahan doesn’t care about a dead nigga though. He wants Nighthawk. Dixon assures him that Nighthawk will be dealt with, but that the guns are a priority. His exact words are below.
“One thing at a time. First, we unload the guns in the jungle, and let the animals start killing each other. Increased gang violence makes it easier for us to go in, crack skulls and get the bangers off the streets.”
This type of thinking isn’t new. We all love the movie the Godfather am I right? Sure we do, any person who loves a good movie that involves a brilliant story and dynamic characters love the Godfather. In that movie, the Dons of New York control everything. Prostitution, gambling, warehouses, even the cops. They’re just old-school versions of Hanrahan. There’s a great scene in the film where the Don’s meet to settle a conflict. Don Corleone has a lot of power but the others are turning on him. Why? Well, because he wants no part in the drug game. The others agree there’s money to be had in that business, but Corleone doesn’t like it. One fat boss stands up and talks about how he wants to keep the drugs controlled. Respectable is the actual word he chose. He slams his hand on the table as he tells the other Dons that he doesn’t want it near schools or children. Where can they distribute it then? The fat boss says that in his city the traffic would be contained through the dark people, or the colored. He says that they’re animals anyway, so let them lose their souls. Not one single boss so much as flinches at the idea, and I’m guessing people watching the film didn’t either. I had to pause the movie my first time watching it and catch my breath. I could feel veins in my neck pulsating, I was sweating even though I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. That word comes up again when you watch that clip. Animals. That’s the role most middle-aged white men think blacks play in society. Wasn’t any different in 1945 than it is now in 2016. As I stated earlier, I don’t like watching or reading things like this. The main difference between the conditioning our society tries (and succeeds) to do to us and David F. Walker is that his story has a point. A message. This isn’t a story of “Oh well, what you gunna do?” No, it’s nothing like that at all. This scene is critical to understanding this story’s overall message to everybody who truly believes that systematic racism in our country is a farce.
Back in the present, Nighthawk is injured. He’s dealing with a crooked cop and one felon. The cop is pointing a gun at Nighthawk. What does our hero have? A trash can lid of course. He throws the lid at the cop. Nighthawk manages to get the upper hand on the cop when the felon hits him from behind with a crowbar.
Another flashback shows the Revelator dressed up as a police officer. He’s on the front porch of Officer O’Neil’s house. I think we all know how this is about to go. The Revelator tells O’Neil that while the grand jury failed to indict him, he still stands accused for murdering an unarmed child. He begins to beat O’Neil with a nightstick over and over again.
Nighthawk is saved by one of Tilda’s flying bird drones that she uses to scout the city for him. I love her comedy and intelligence. The birds are a solid touch to Nighthawk’s mystique. Nighthawk takes the felon and pushes him against the wall. He sticks the crowbar in the felon’s shoulder and tells him he has ten seconds to talk. Seeing no other option since the cops are on their way, Nighthawk decides to blow up the truck with the guns inside as well. Another flashback, only eight minutes earlier, shows that the cop called Dixon when he had the gun on Nighthawk. Dixon however, was with Detective Burrell and Nina, Burrell’s partner, at the house of Officer O’Neil who was recently killed by the Revelator. Dixon takes the call. Afterwards, he tells Burrell that it involved an arson case where someone blew up some meth-dealing Nazis. Burrell instantly remembered Nighthawk telling him that the warehouse he destroyed hadn’t been filed. Dixon hurries off to see how his product is doing.
At the Nest, Nighthawk bandages himself up. He and tilde have more dialogue about her coming along for the fun. He doesn’t even entertain the idea. They look through some files and find the cop who he was just with. Tilda is a solid voice of reason for Nighthawk. She tells him that the messes he leaves behind are going to bite him in the butt one day. She says that his work has zero subtlety, that he shows no pride in his work. Nighthawk doesn’t really care though. As long as he gets results, nothing else matters.
The issue ends with Dixon going to see the cop who was injured during the blast. Before EMT’s can take the cop away, Dixon has a few words with him. He asks the cop what happened to the merchandise. The cop responds faintly saying that Nighthawk blew it up. Obviously, Dixon isn’t too happy about this. He’s forced to make an unpleasant call to Hanrahan. As he’s making the call, Burrell is shown in the background. The issue ends with him saying, “Dixon, what are you up to?”
All in all, this was a solid addition to the Nighthawk story. Should Nighthawk stop murdering people? Is murder ever justified by a superhero? These questions are important to think about when reading a story where the hero fights for a pure cause, but is flawed. Most, if not all heroes are flawed, but murder to me, is another level. I personally don’t agree with his methods at all. But I’m also open to walk in his shoes for a moment. I’m not positive I wouldn’t respond the way he does if I discovered something as disgusting as gun smuggling by a white supremacist group was going on in my city. Truth be told, I know for a fact that guns and drugs still get smuggled into this city and I struggle with my emotions regarding it every day. Especially when people on social media and the news refer to blacks and other minorities as thugs. The question is never “how” or “why” these drugs and guns permeate the cities. When dealing with black men all people need are “what,” and the social conditioning I spoke of earlier takes shape. All that matters to them is that this man (or woman) was a thug. They made poor choices in their life that people watching the news would NEVER make. They tested the cop, lived a horrible lifestyle, and paid the price. That’s how people will think of me if I died tomorrow under those circumstances. Never mind the fact I’m in college or have never been in trouble in my life. Once white people see the “what” then everything else is conditioning. Even as I type this I struggle to contain my emotions. I couldn’t imagine living in Chicago, with access, money and time on my hands. I’d probably get off my ass and do something about it too.
I hope you enjoyed this review. Nighthawk #4 is coming up next. It’s making me sad because I’m hallway done with the series now and I don’t want to stop. Remember to follow me on Twitter @Hero_Review and tweet me any comments you have on this review. Like it, share it, and remember…Peace, Love, and Comics.