So somehow, the character of Darkhawk has been inextricably linked with the New Warriors, and I’m not really sure why. Sure they crossed over a lot, but Darkhawk crossed over with everybody. He’s like the village bicycle of the Marvel Universe. He’s teamed-up with Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Daredevil, the Punisher, Ghost Rider and Sleepwalker. He’s even become a reserve Avengers, yet, he’s always associated with the Warriors.
So, in Shattered Fates, we we get a full-fledged story in which the New Warriors and Darkhawk team-up. The story? Zarrko, a time-traveling Thor villain, approaches Darkhawk and the Warriors with an interesting choice: he’ll let them alter the time-stream to undo a past failure, in return for them helping him steal the corpse of the then-dead Kang from his mate, Ravonna.
I’ve complained before when the series author Danny Fingeroth uses villains throughout the Marvel Universe in the Darkhawk title, but here I applaud it. The difference being that the use of Hobogoblin, Venom, and the Brotherhood of Mutants feel like disingenuous cash-grabs to capitalize on the readerships of those franchises; whereas Zarrko doesn’t have that kind of star-power. This seems more like Fingeroth revitalizing a classic villain for good use here. In Darkhawk Annual #1 I balked at Hobogoblin and Midnight being listed as Darkhawk villains, but with Zarrko I’d buy that.
Part of the reason this works is that Zarrko treats Darkhawk as a legitimate nemesis, citing future events.
This is where the plot suffers a little.
Zarrko deposits Darkhawk and the New Warriors in Chronos, the city outside of time, and tells them each to reach the citadel at it’s center, where Kang’s body is held. But Zarrko has tricked them: he doesn’t actually want Kang’s body. He’s actually harnessing the energy expended by each hero and using it to power a large “time-bomb.”
This is not a problem. This is actually quite good, and fits with Marvel continuity regarding time-travel technology. Kang himself tried the same thing in Time’s Arrow: The Past.
The problem is that while all the Warriors are sent to iconic past moments, such as the bombing of Hiroshima or the Cretaceous Period, Darkhawk is sent to the year 2099.
We haven’t touched on Marvel 2099 yet on this site, but it was a Marvel imprint in which many Marvel heroes were re-imagined in that time period. It featured some cool concepts, such as Thor being a messianic religious figure, along with some other heroes.
Upon appearing in 2099, Darkhawk is approached with the same religious fervor as “The Powell,” indicating simultaneously that his identity is eventually revealed and that he becomes a well-known hero.
This… didn’t happen. In fact, knowing what we know now, the Darkhawk title is approaching its last legs. That, and “The Powell” is never mentioned in any other 2099 title, nor by Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, who now exists in our timeline. It is also contradicted by the League of Losers storyline from Marvel Team-Up, which is based around villains traveling back from 2099 and killing all the Marvel heroes, neglecting Darkhawk specifically because he is so unknown. This version of Darkhawk is ultimately trapped in 2099 at the end of the arc, where his status as “The Powell” in never mentioned.
Now, obviously Fingeroth couldn’t have known what later authors would do with his character over a decade later… but I think common sense would dictate that he wasn’t going to be considered up there with Thor and Spider-Man. But I mean: the 2099 books were published at the time. He knew “The Powell” wouldn’t be mentioned there.
I mean, there’s promoting your character and then there’s breaking suspension of disbelief.
We also keep cutting back to the present, and dealing with the animosity that Darkhawk’s younger brother Jason is beginning to feel towards him. I myself read this and assumed there would be a plot twist in which we encountered a villainous Jason in the future or something, but nothing much is made of it. I guess we’re setting it up for the future.
Eventually Darkhawk and the New Warriors make it back to Zarrko and discover his treachery. Darkhawk bluffs Zarrko by claiming he’s planted a bomb on his ship… and well, let’s just hope “The Powell” never plays poker, because his bluff would make a five-year-old groan. But Zarrko falls for it, and agrees to honor his debt and send the heroes to their worst moments to correct them.
Darkhawk goes first, back to that moment in Heart of the Hawk when his father died… only to watch as his father’s still-living form is whisked away by mysterious people.
And thus we get an epic, amazing conclusion to Shattered Fates: a plot twist that will propel us forward into the rest of the series. But will it be a good thing? While still in the present Darkhawk asked Spider-Man for advice and was lead astray by the web-spinner, echoing a reversal of the “father knows best” version of the typical heroes seen in Darkhawk Classic. Will this twist foretell glad tidings or ill? Time well tell.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Zarrko deposits Darkhawk and the New Warriors in Chronos, the city outside of time, and tells them each to reach the citadel at it’s center, where Kang’s body is held.”
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