WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #2, from Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Gang Hyuk Lim and Travis Lanham, on sale now.
Infinity Countdown is proving to be one of Marvel's most sprawling galactic epics to date as it deals with the presence of the reality stones in the Multiverse, the return of Galactus as a devourer of worlds, and also, the struggles of the Nova Corps and Guardians of the Galaxy to keep peace in outer space.
The tie-in book, Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk, is a bit more streamlined, focusing on the cult-favorite character as he takes the fight to the Fraternity of Raptors, elite armored assassins engineered by the Shi'ar Empire. However, finally in control of the Darkhawk mantle, Chris Powell journeys into the cosmos, only to find he bit off way more than he can chew.
In confronting members of his 'species,' Chris doesn't just encounter another major threat to the galaxy, his actions also lead to the return of a major Marvel cosmic character, only this time with a twist. He ends up being the catalyst for our very first glimpse at the Dark Starhawk, which regretfully arrives thanks to a few crucial human sacrifices.
This book definitely seems intent on expanding the existing cosmic lore in the Marvel-616, as we see the Raptors are now fully equipped to be the most lethal army in space, made all the more true by the emergence of the Dark Starhawk; a being they make abundantly clear is more powerful than the entity it was meant to hunt, the Phoenix.
After Death's Head brings Chris back to the Raptors to collect a bounty (a ruse they set up in Issue #1), the Raptors quickly attack the duo and take Chris to a secret Shi'ar outpost, easily overpowering him in his Darkhawk armor. It turns out, Gyre (who escaped the Null Space along with his fellow Raptors) simply wanted Chris' amulet because of how special it was. This is because, recently Chris actually convinced his amulet's persona, Razor, to break free from the Fraternity's stronghold, thus developing sentience. However, it's all part of some prophecy Gyre wants to put into motion.
The Raptors' leader goes on to reveal the sentient amulet is really the key to unleashing the Ratha'kon or Dark Starhawk, which the Shi'ar intended to be a "predator" to the Phoenix. However, to bring it to life, a second sacrifice is needed, one who's willing, and this turns out to be none other than Robbie Rider -- which ties into why he was quick to leave his brother, Richard, behind in the main Infinity Countdown series.
Gyre punches through Chris' chest, leaving him for dead, and then uses his amulet to fuse with Robbie's, thus allowing Ratha'kon to possess the latter's body. Sensing the weapon in their grasp, Gyre takes the Dark Starhawk and the Raptors to Earth -- a place where the Phoenix loves to go -- for a mysterious mission.
Now, this changes Marvel's cosmic landscape for a couple reasons. Firstly, fans are familiar with Starhawk from the Guardians of the Galaxy comics as someone who was powered up by the mystical Hawk God on Arcturus in the alternate reality of Earth-691. This entity turned Starkar Ogord and his half-sister Aleta into vessels for the cosmic being, but amid all that lore, the Hawk God has never ever been tied to the Phoenix... until now.
Secondly, the revelation the Shi'ar had something up their sleeves at a mysterious outpost which could defeat the Phoenix is a terrifying one. We know they've always wanted to tame or kill the Phoenix, but this Dark Starhawk is a game-changer which comes out of the blue. Why the Shi'ar weren't able to use this weapon before remains to be seen, but as of now Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk feels like it has a lot of unexplored secrets still to offer.
With Robbie finally fulfilling what he views as his destiny, growing from a weak scientist into this universe-shattering entity, it'll be interesting to witness how Richard reacts when they inevitably meet up. Because at the moment, the Nova Corps, the Guardians and certainly not Richard by his lonesome will be enough to take out the Ratha'kon aka the slayer of the Phoenix.