February is almost over. That means we’re coming to the close of Black History Month as well. Everyone has some sort of opinion on BHM. Some think it shouldn’t exist, others don’t care that it exists. Well, I definitely care that it exists. I was always one of those kids in school who felt immense pride during the month of February. My elementary school went all out in their recognition of black leaders and innovators. For the longest time, my school did this thing where they would organize a timeline of black history, with the highlight being the civil rights movement. Every class would be responsible for a section of the timeline and we would get two days off to work on it during class time. After it was finished, I would walk down the hallways in admiration at the great accomplishments of black people in America. But then February would leave, the timeline would be gone, and my love of black history faded a bit as well. That’s my problem with black history. As a kid, if you’re conditioned to only think about certain things at a certain time, that will bleed over into your teen and adult years. We are conditioned to forget about black history after the month of February. My high school didn’t do anything close to the timeline I fell in love with when I was younger. I wasn’t a revolutionary at the time either. All I was focused on was getting big for football and talking to girls. That same sense of black pride was within me, but not as much. By the time February was halfway done, I had mentally checked out. Now though, I understand the importance of studying black history year-round. I’m a believer in keeping your inner child alive too. Some of our most genuine, happiest moments come from childhood. We also operate on a different level socially. We usually don’t judge people because of things like race, gender, occupation, or anything else. As a kid, our passions are white hot. When we love something, we love it one hundred percent. Somewhere along the way, our passions die and we become heartless adults who can only laugh at people’s pain. Studying black history brings out my inner child again and I love it.
Along with studying black history, I’m obsessed with experiencing history as well. Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino tried his hand at standup for a bit. He’s hilarious and I wish he’d do another standup special. His only one is called Weirdo. During this special, Glover talks about how he hates people who have a pessimistic view of today’s world. He mocks people who talk about the ending of the world and the horrors of our society. He says that idea is crap. He says today is the best time to be alive ever. There’s so much to do, so much to see, and the ONLY person stopping you from being what you want to become today, is you. I love that outlook, even though I don’t completely agree with it. Where I do agree with this line of thought though is how it relates to black history. Black people in this country have been dealt a terrible hand. Systematic racism and blatant racism still exist today, but things are significantly better than our first arrival here in 1610. Today, February 26th, is the greatest day to be a black person in America. Everything we see that comes from our culture is history. Our culture is ever evolving, bridging the gap between other cultures too. I appreciate every aspect of our growing culture. Whether it’s Migos or Doctor Boyce Watkins, I plan on embracing every part of black culture. The good and the bad. One of the good parts I plan to embrace forever is David F. Walker’s series, Nighthawk. A couple of reasons for this. Walker is a black writer, so that’s number one. Nighthawk is a black superhero, that’s number two. The third reason is because of the subject matter. This story deals with police brutality, riots, and vigilante justice. Having a minority hero who just saves the day and kicks ass is nice (and needed) but so are minority characters that deal with relevant societal problems. Marvel Comics took a chance with Nighthawk. It’s a shame though because this series has been cancelled. The main reason is sales. I don’t know the numbers exactly, but this proves to me we have a long way to go. This series is black history. It represents the evolution of black culture and Walker has given us something great. Something every comic book fan should read too. Hopefully one day Marvel brings his series back (and maybe a certain blogger/reviewer could write it…a guy can dream right?) Until then, we can appreciate the fact this comic happened. Today marks my last review of Nighthawk. A bittersweet ending for sure. Walker wraps up this story nicely and delivers the best issue of the short-lived run.
A quick and final recap of everything that has happened so far. Raymond Kane is also known as Nighthawk. He protects the city of Chicago. His partner, Tilda, is a wisecracking ex-criminal that handles his technology. She’s been begging him to join the fight against crime, but he likes having her behind the scene for now. Nighthawk fights crime, but mainly white supremacists. The opening issue saw him blowing up a warehouse with a plethora of weapons in it as well as a group of white supremacists called the True Patriots. Nighthawk doesn’t care about killing people either. He kills the men in the warehouse, but the weapons are what’s important to our series’ villain. Dan Hanrahan is a real estate developer who is smuggling weapons into Chicago. He used the white supremacist group as a front. The point of his actions is to keep the chaos in the projects, so that he can profit on the properties. Hanrahan has a cop on his payroll too. Officer Dixon has been playing both sides since the first issue. The cop opposing him is Detective Burrell. He’s Nighthawk’s only ally on the force.
The story also involves a serial killer known as the Revelator. The Revelator is like Nighthawk in many ways, but they are extremely different at the same time. The Revelator has been murdering and torturing people who have horrible histories towards minorities. He comes into the story because he kills a cop who shot and killed an unarmed black teen. The Revelator takes matters into his own hands. The murder of the cop starts a riot that sends the city of Chicago into chaos. Nighthawk is caught off guard during the riots and is captured by the Revelator. Here, we experience the two men’s opposing ideals. Nighthawk eventually escapes and with the help of Tilda, returns to his base. Issue number five ended with Burrell being called by Dixon to the remains of the destroyed warehouse. Dixon had a feeling Burrell was on to him, so he decided to end it. Dixon stabs Burrell, shoots Burrell’s partner, Nina, but Nighthawk is there. He grabs Dixon from behind and snaps his neck. Two cops have died now in this story. Nighthawk continues to prove that he’s willing to cross that line. I for one, won’t miss Dixon, and the Marvel Universe is better off without him. Still, Nighthawk has to deal with the consequences of another dead officer.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
The issue starts exactly where it left off in issue five. Nina is beside herself. She just watched Nighthawk kill a cop, but he saved her life as well. She’s stumbling across her words. At first, she tries to tell Nighthawk to stay where he’s at. Trying to act like she’s seriously going to arrest him. Burrell tells her to knock it off. So does Nighthawk. He reminds Nina that Dixon was going to kill them both if he didn’t arrive. Corrupt is corrupt. There is no grey area with Nighthawk. I love that because someone needs to take that type of action. I’m just always a bit uneasy whenever a human kills another human.
Nighthawk leaves the scene. He calls Tilda. Dixon’s phone records indicate he was Dan Hanrahan’s inside man. Finally, he has some connection to the True Patriots and their weapons smuggling. He tells Tilda that the connection between Hanrahan and the True Patriots won’t be obvious, but it’ll be there. Most likely financial. Tilda eventually finds the connection. It’s a confusing one, but she finds the shipping company owned by someone owned by another someone that’s owned by Hanrahan. During this, Nighthawk is flying on his glider. He comes across two groups of people fighting each other. One group is in a car, the other on the sidewalk. Both have guns and are ready to take each other’s heads off. Nighthawk intervenes and begins to beat the men trying to kill each other. While he’s fighting, Tilda asks why Hanrahan, a billionaire, would be in the gun smuggling business. Nighthawk poignantly explains why.
This is my favorite, well, my second favorite, part of this issue. This moment by Nighthawk explains how rich men have kept people in the ghetto poor. It’s a simple explanation that could be explained further and could be studied for a lifetime. Nighthawk says…
“You wanted to know why a billionaire real estate developer would smuggle arms into the city, Tilda? It’s because you can control the value of real estate by controlling crime. Destabilize the local population through poverty and violence. Cultivate an environment where surviving poverty lends itself to criminal activity, which increases aggression. Supply the tools to ensure violent behavior as a means of constant destabilization, and you can drive down the value of the property, making it easier to assume ownership.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s all about his bottom line. Hanrahan knows he can make money off of minority neighborhoods. He might have a couple of black friends and go to parties full of black people, but his livelihood depends on the suffering of black people. This is why Hanrahan is the main villain of this series. In the shadows, calling the shots. He’s a despicable human being whose actions are almost impossible to prove. America has been conditioned to think that black neighborhoods and black people in general are dangerous. That we are more aggressive than your average human. Hanrahan has no problem contributing to that conditioning, as long as it makes him money.
Nighthawk then yells at the men. He tells them that they are fighting a futile fight. That no matter what happens here, they are fighting on property that isn’t theirs. He says,” Stop giving them their victory with your blood.” A powerful statement and I love this because Nighthawk’s passion comes out here. He doesn’t talk much, but when his heart is in it, he will voice his opinion.
Nighthawk then goes to the home of Hanrahan, but he isn’t there. There are signs of a struggle. Someone has taken Hanrahan. Tilda then tells him that she’s been going through the Revelator’s files. He has images and records of Hanrahan. Both of them come to the conclusion that he is the Revelator’s next target.
The issue then takes us to a construction tower. The Revelator is torturing Hanrahan. He’s shooting him with an industrial level staple gun. The Revelator lets him know that he wants Hanrahan to know the pain of screaming for help, and no one listening. Hanrahan tells him that he knows who he is, and who he’s killed. Hanrahan assures the Revelator that he’s nothing like the judge or the cop. He’s delusional if he thinks that. The Revelator continues to torture him with the staple gun. It’s a brutal scene.
Nina is at the hospital and she tells a fellow officer that she is the one who killed Dixon. This is showing us that Nighthawk has gained another friend on the force. A shaky one at best, but a friend nonetheless.
The issue ends with a bang. Nighthawk finds the Revelator and Hanrahan. Tilda brings up the fact that while the Revelator needs to be stopped, Hanrahan doesn’t necessarily need to be saved. She asks him if he really wants to go through with saving him. It’s an interesting question because I don’t know if I could save Hanrahan. Sure, we all like to think of ourselves as the hero. But I don’t have any love in my heart for men like Hanrahan. Not one bit. An epic fight between the Revelator and Nighthawk happens next. The fight to end all fights. They engage in lengthy brawl that ends with the Revelator hitting our hero upside the head with a saw. Just as he is about to kill Nighthawk, Tilda uses one of the bird drones to save his life. Nighthawk then kicks the Revelator, which causes our villain to fall off the construction tower, to his apparent death.
Everything is over. Except Hanrahan needs assistance. He pleads to Nighthawk. Asks him for help. Nighthawk tells him that he knows about the guns, about the True Patriots. He’s sick that Hanrahan was going to let a community burn for profit. Even in his last breath, Hanrahan can’t escape his racist ways. He looks at Nighthawk and says, “Those people…you know how they are.”
Nighthawk removes his mask. Hanrahan recognizes him. He recognizes Raymond Kane. Earlier in the series, Raymond met with Hanrahan to discuss the properties. Kane wanted to save it, while our main villain only wanted it for profit. He looks at Hanrahan and says one of the most intense lines I’ve ever read in a comic. He says, “I didn’t come to save you. I came here for one reason…I came to watch you die.” A bloody and desperate Hanrahan pleads, but his efforts are pointless. Nighthawk crosses his legs, takes a load off, and watches Hanrahan dies. A perfect end. A perfect run. A perfect story.
If Marvel never revives this series, we’ll always have the memories that Walker provided us with during this run. Raymond Kane is a fascinating character. His anger fuels him, but he isn’t a savage. While some may not agree with his violent ways, this comic gives us insight into the brutal world that is racism. Kane is a man of privilege. He can maneuver through different crowds and be totally fine. Much like Bruce Wayne or Matt Murdock, he decides to put his wealth and knowledge to use. For one reason and one reason only. To help those who can’t help themselves. His values are extreme, but in a way, they aren’t. He’s a product of racism. He can’t just ignore what’s happening to his people. Walker gave us a perfect example of the fine line between revolution and pure insanity. The Revelator is a man who represents EVERY black person who has been the victim of racism. It’s why his identity is never revealed. It isn’t relevant at all to understanding his character. While I’m disappointed in Marvel and fans for not supporting this comic the way it deserved, I am happy I was able to read a story like this printed by Marvel Comics. Walker has made history with this story. Whether he realizes it or not, this story has inspired many to pursue their dreams of writing and to tell the harsh realities of racism. It’s a reality that America still hasn’t come to terms with yet, and people will only continue to share their stories until our country shows improvement. Nighthawk #6 was just as important as issues 1-5 were. This one was my personal favorite because of the decision Nighthawk made at the very end. Some would argue that he’s no better than the Revelator for letting Hanrahan die. I would listen to that argument. That’s the importance of this story. Racism and its effects on people vary from person to person. We don’t all react the same way to it and this story is the perfect manifestation of that. From Raymond to Tilda to the Revelator. Racism is a complex thing that can’t be summed up (or dismissed) with a playful meme. Our society tends to forget the short history black people have had in this country since the Civil War. Nighthawk shows us the struggles still going on today. There isn’t necessarily a happy ending to this story because the story of racism is still being unfolded in front of our eyes. Since this story was written, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and many more have been gunned down by police officers while either being unarmed or posing no real threat. White men and other terrorists have been taken alive after killing police officers. Our own Revelator struck in Dallas. Micah Xavier Johnson rose up because of the pain of racism. Our media and public condemned him of course, and it created a bigger divide in our country. The story is only going to continue. I just hope that we all learn from our mistakes before it’s too late.
I hope you enjoyed this review. It’s been a pleasure to review this series. One of my favorite of all time. I’m not sure when my next review will be. It might be Logan or I might talk some more about diversity in comic books, who knows. Until then, Peace, Love, and Comics, everyone!