Darkhawk: The Secret History of the '90s Marvel Hero

Darkhawk War of Kings Feature

One of Marvel's most fan-favorite offbeat, cult characters to debut in the '90s is the cosmic superhero Darkhawk. Asa a member of the West Coast Avengers, New Warriors and a few other super-teams, the character originally battled street-level crime before expanding his mission to venture deep into the cosmos of the Marvel Universe.

With the character playing a major role in the recent comic book crossovers Infinity Countdown and showing up in recent issues of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw's Guardians of the Galaxy, CBR is breaking down this young, high-flying superhero.

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Darkhawk Joe Jusko feature

Debuting in 1991's Darkhawk #1 by Tom DeFalco and Mike Manley, Darkhawk was introduced as Christopher Powell, the teenage son of a police officer in Queens. After witnessing his father accept a bribe from a mob boss after hours at a local amusement park, Chris stumbles across a mysterious amulet as he flees the scene. The amulet allowed Chris to switch places with a powerful android named Darkhawk, which he mentally controls while is body is in a pocket dimension known as the Null Space.

Using the amulet-powered android to fight crime, Darkhawk takes on various street-level villains after teaming up with Spider-Man to take on the Hobgoblin. Chris became a de facto member of the New Warriors and was recruited by the West Coast Avengers to serve on a provisional basis.

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After his solo adventures ended, a disillusioned Darkhawk forms an impromptu team with other disaffected teen heroes known as the Loners. It is then revealed that Chris had suffered a nervous breakdown giving him anger issues, leading him to contemplate abandoning the Darkhawk persona entirely before the group becomes fully sponsored by Rick Jones after they take down Ultron.



The android body of Darkhawk is made from a techno-organic metal and possesses superhuman strength, speed, and endurance. Initially only able to use the retractable wings to glide, Chris gradually uses them to fly at tremendous velocities and traverse the vacuum of outer space, capable of traveling between planets in seconds. The amulet powering Darkhawk can also project a defensive force field around himself and fire powerful concussive energy blasts.

After receiving an upgrade, Darkhawk becomes more adaptive and learns how to recongifure his armor to match specific scenarios and contexts. This additionally gives Darkhawk telescopic and infrared vision and the ability to change his gauntlets to grow sharp claws or grappling hook attachments.

After learning the true nature of Darkhawk, Chris is no longer transported to the Null Space to summon the android, instead able to merge with it himself. The new ability also allows Darkhawk to create sub-space portals, either within the confines of the main universe or to travel to alternate dimensions like the Negative Zone.


Retiring from his Darkhawk persona for a time after defeating the villainous Arcade, Chris joins the New York City Police Department and returns to Queens. After receiving an upgraded set of Darkhawk armor, Chris is attacked in his home by Raptors who have escaped from the Null Space, who mortally wound him and steal the amulet. Clinging to life, Chris learns that the amulet is a seed to the Tree of Life created by the precursors to the Shi'ar and Skrulls eons ago, and he merges with a massive, powerful new Darkhawk armor that combines with his body and mind and massively upgrades his strength and abilities.

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Darkhawk teams up with Death's Head and Nova Prime to resume their fight against the Raptors, defeating them and recovering his amulet before their leader, Dark Starhawk, retreated using his Nega Bands.

Darkhawk returns to Earth and decides to refrain from venturing into space for a time. However, Darkhawk journeyed back into space to hear the last will and testament of Thanos, who killed during Infinity Countdown, only to be sucked into a black hole in a trap set by Hela and the Black Order. Barely emerging with his life, Darkhawk is horrified to discover he has been apparently been reverted into a child.

With Darkhawk facing a new, terrifying predicament, the character is poised to figure prominently in the future of the new Guardians of the Galaxy. What exactly his new status quo and upgrade entails has yet to be seen but Chris Powell has come a long way from battling street-level villains like Tombstone as a teenager to becoming one of the more cosmic superheroes in the Marvel Universe.

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