Review of Nighthawk #1

359077._SX640_QL80_TTD_by David Walker, Ramon Villalobos & Tamra Bonvillian

On the debut of Nighthawk #1, writer David Walker along with artist Ramon Villalobos & colorist Tamra Bonvillian craft a strange opening chapter that uses contrast in tone and style mixing real world politics with a unique conception of the character.
Nighthawk was the Batman analogue for Marvel’s Squadron Supreme. Previously portrayed as the more level headed member of the team and the voice of reason against the classic Squads turns toward totalitarianism in search of utopia, the new Nighthawk fit’s into Robinson’s Squad vision of an ultra violent team that uses deadly force as necessary and beyond. Nighthawk, now African American and living in Chicago, makes his case as the Squad’s most lethal member in the series introduction. To Villalobos credit, Nighthawk’s new design basically erases any semblance to Batman and instead gives the character a more functional costume, including the latest Addidas Yeezy’s, which in turn allows the character to fall somewhere between Moon Knight & The Punisher as the book open’s with an exciting fight between Nighthawk and a group of white supremacist with some brilliant color contrasts from Tamra Bonvillian. From the explosive opening, writer David Walker allows the story to step back as it establishes the cast and setting while introducing multiple mysteries and the book settles into a sort of horror thriller motif. Nothing matches the dynamic first few pages but Walker’s gift for dialogue moves the story along while Villalobo’s shows off his acting skills and Bonvillian makes her color work more dark to match the plot’s overall direction.
Walker himself is touching on multiple aspects of racial politics but in the debut, it’s muddied and unclear what it all means. While the mainline theme of being Black in America runs throughout the books subtext with White hate groups, casual racism in the private sector and gentrification all getting touched on, the book does so more in a way that embed’s them within the story. It’s an ambition direction for Walker whose still relatively new to work for hire but it gives the book a necessary level of intrigue that sells the character’s and premise.
Nighthawk is not as fun as Walker’s excellent Powerman & Iron Fist but the latter’s bombast carries over here while the book’s tone and direction takes a darker turn. It’s interesting and while it won’t blow away readers, it gives enough to keep them coming back and that’s a skill unto itself.

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