Darkhawk: Heart of the Hawk a "gripping setup for what will happen next" for Marvel's Chris Powell

Darkhawk: Heart of the Hawk #1 variant cover
(Image credit: Russell Dauterman (Marvel Comics))

It's been 30 years since Darkhawk debuted, and for the occasion, Marvel is bringing back creators from his past for more stories - and planning for his future.

(Image credit: Inhyuk Lee (Marvel Comics))

In April 14's Darkhawk: Heart of the Hawk #1, Darkhawk reunites with his creators Danny Fingeroth and Mike Manley for the first of several stories touching on old memories (and making some new ones). Meanwhile, Dan Abnett and Andrea Di Vito dive back into the character's cosmic days, and Kyle Higgins takes a look towards the future teasing Darkhawk's future adventures.  

Newsarama spoke with all three writers, as well as artist Mike Manley, about Darkhawk's anniversary, his core attributes, their individual stories, and what the future holds for the raptor.

Newsarama: Danny, Mike... what made you want to return to Darkhawk?

Danny Fingeroth: Since I wrote all 50 issues of the character's original run, (the first 25 with Mike as artist) I've always had a fondness for Chris Powell and his cast of characters. 

Mike Manley: Well, initially I got the idea to do sort of a fan-fic thing like John Byrne was doing on his site with the X-Men. Danny and I had talked about Darkhawk off and on over the years. So, I approached Danny with the idea of just doing a short fun story and just putting it up on our social media.

(Image credit: Mike Manley/Chris Sotomayor/Travis Lanham (Marvel Comics))

Marvel had never approached me when they did new Darkhawk material so I figured they weren't interested. Just about everyone I ever worked with editorial-wise has moved on from comics. When they go your history goes. 

I get so many people asking and wanting more Darkhawk stuff from me and wanting to see me draw him again. And Danny was up for it, but thought he would run in past Marvel to see if they were interested. This time they were, so it seems the universe was aligning.

Nrama: Dan, is that when you were roped into Darkhawk: Heart of the Hawk?

Dan Abnett: Well, I was invited, so that was nice. 

I thought it was very interesting to return to him in the later days of his cosmic adventuring. In this period, he was often mistaken for a villain, and certainly others of his kind had been on the wrong side of history and played a significant role in some of the major crises and cosmic events. 

My story looks at him as a loner, unappreciated and feared, trying to do the best he can to uphold the stability of the universe in the aftermath of those major cosmic events, when very few heroes are still around.

Nrama: Before we get too far, Danny... what was it like collaborating with Mike again for a new Darkhawk tale?

Fingeroth: Needless to say, it was great fun working with Mike on Darkhawk again. It felt like we just sort of picked up where we'd left off years ago. 

(Image credit: Mike Manley/Chris Sotomayor/Travis Lanham (Marvel Comics))

Nrama: Tell us a bit about this "lost episode" styled tale.

Fingeroth: It's Darkhawk in classic action set against a nighttime New York backdrop, facing a couple of deadly foes from his early days, having to make tough decisions. And there's a senses-shattering surprise or two for readers of the original series.

Nrama: Why did you want to return to his early days in particular?  

Fingeroth: Since that's when Mike and I worked together on the character, it's the era that seemed to make the most sense for us to do a story about, bringing some added depth to that period in Darkhawk's life and career.

Nrama: Do you feel like there have been any changes to your style since you last worked on the character?

Manley: You know I have done a lot of things art-wise in 30 years since working on Darkhawk. Going into animation, back to school to get my MFA painting, etc. So, I have done a lot of different mediums and styles- but the idea is that this is 1992-3, and so I wanted the work to look like what I did back then, so it fit in character to my first run on the book, even though I did flex styles wise in the series then.

Nrama: Were there any ways you wanted to modernize the character?

Manley: No. I was not aiming to do that for the reasons above, but also since the other artists were doing newer or later takes on Darkhawk.

Nrama: The New Warriors is such a big part of Darkhawk's character, is this an element you wanted to add into your story?

Fingeroth: It never crossed my mind, to tell you the truth. We were focused on doing a Darkhawk solo adventure.

(Image credit: Andrea Di Vito/Le Beau Underwood/Sebastian Cheng/Travis Lanham (Marvel Comics))

Nrama: And after the two of you's opening story, it segues to one by Dan here, with Andrea Di Vito. Dan, what do you enjoy about Darkhawk's cosmic adventures?

Abnett: Though his powers were cosmic in origin, Darkhawk started out very much as an Earth hero, a setting in which he flourished and in which great stories were told. 

When I was writing Marvel's cosmic titles like Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, it seemed like a great idea to put Darkhawk in that setting for a change, and explore his cosmic origins. 

As a cosmic hero, I liked Darkhawk because he was an outsider… not a rogue, like say Star-Lord or Drax, and not a recognized hero and force of justice like Nova - but a mysterious figure on the edge, whose agenda was less clear and whose heroism often want unrecognized.

Nrama: Will we be seeing any other cosmic heroes joining him?

Abnett: There will be references. The stories in this special focus on the different phases of his life. The original creative team does a great story of his classic early days on Earth, and I revisit him in his cosmic period. After that - the future beckons.

Nrama: This is for all of you: will this affect Darkhawk's current narrative or is it just a fun one-off?

Fingeroth: There are themes that start in my and Mike's story that resonate through the two other stories in Heart of the Hawk. As for the future… only time will tell, as the saying goes.

Abnett: They are all individual stories showcasing the phases of his life, but there is a low-key link between them and they set up where his narrative is going next.

Nrama: Speaking of what's next, let's bring in Kyle Higgins - who is writing the third and final story in this anthology, with Darkhawk's modern-day adventures.

Kyle, do you remember the first time you read Darkhawk? What were your feelings on the character back then? Have they changed now?

Kyle Higgins: To be honest, I don't. Funny story, he's a character that I remember seeing in books when I was growing up, but I never knew his name or anything about him. It was only recently that a friend was talking to me about Darkhawk. I was, in turn, telling Lance Briggs (my co-writer on The Trap) about [the Darkhawk opportunity] and his eyes light up. He reaches down and pulls out a Fleer trading card that he had of Darkhawk.

(Image credit: Juanan Ramirez/Erick Arciniega/Travis Lanham (Marvel Comics))

So, when Darren reached out about joining for this anniversary special, I did a bit of a dive on the old series and had so much fun exploring him. It's tough tracking down most of the old run, though. That said, I think what Danny and Mike created has a really fun hook to it -- the body-swapping component is so smart and introduces so many fun ideas and possibilities.

Nrama: What made you want to work on the character and this one-shot in particular?

Higgins: Darren Shan (our editor) and I previously worked together on the tail end of my Nightwing run. Darren is the guy at DC who got Russell Dauterman for our last two issues. So, I'd been wanting to work with him again for a while. Plus, when Darren told me what the game plan was, it sounded like too cool of an opportunity to pass up.

Nrama: Your story delves into the future of Darkhawk, what can you tell us about his story?

Higgins: Well, the intention of this story is to close the door on one era and crack open another one, for something new. Hopefully, that will make more sense when you see the book. It's tough talking about it without huge spoilers!

Nrama: Will it be more grounded like his early days or continue a cosmic route?

Higgins: Yes.

Nrama: This is for everyone - why do you think the character is a cult/fan-favorite 30 years later?

Manley: That's a good question, and I used to ask myself that a while ago. But I think it's a combination of things. First, Marvel was doing the right thing then in the early '90s by creating new books and heroes from scratch. Throwing stuff against the wall. Before Image and what that wrought. Before speculation.

(Image credit: Juanan Ramirez/Erick Arciniega/Travis Lanham (Marvel Comics))

So, the readers could hop on and read from issue #1 on Darkhawk and Sleepwalker etc. - that was also pretty much the near end of the traditional comic fan collector. The kids who collected baseball cards and comics. Those fans are all 40+ now, so nostalgia too.

That has always been a huge part of our business, though I think that this has been broken almost 100% since kids don't read comics or mainstream stuff, just mostly manga, Webtoons, and middle-grade books. The character was built off the classic hero lines of Spider-Man and Captain Marvel. The body switch and teen drama. That still works.

Fingeroth: Like Spider-Man, Darkhawk is a 'regular person' superhero; a teenager who finds himself possessed of great power and has to figure out how to use it responsibly, despite having a complicated personal life that he has to deal with. I think a lot of readers can relate to a situation like that.

Higgins: I think, since he was built in something of the Peter Parker mold, he was really accessible. Especially at that time, a new character to debut in his own #1... that didn't happen very often. The low numbering at a time where there weren't reboots and whatnot, meant that he had appeal as a true jumping-on point character. Plus, the costume is GREAT. Never underestimate the power of great superhero design!

(Image credit: Russell Dauterman (Marvel Comics))

Abnett: I think he's just a great character with very interesting powers and a great look. I also particularly like the fact that his power, his tech, is very alien, and he barely understands it or is able to communicate with it. So, he's learning all the time, and he doesn't exactly know what he is or what he can do. I think there's something very appealing about a character who suddenly gets vast superhuman powers, but doesn't know quite what to do with them or what their potential is.

Nrama: What do you think Darkhawk fans will enjoy the most about the anniversary issue? 

Fingeroth: Uh…that it's about Darkhawk…? I do hope the issue brings him a whole lot of new fans, in addition to the many who already dig him.

Manley: The trip down memory lane and a time before comics changed. I think from what I see on social media the fans left want to see more of the stories like this. Again, that is the magical era for them, like the late '60s and mid '70s was and still is for me.

Higgins: I think that all three stories celebrate the different eras of Darkhawk, while also weaving together in the spirit of starting something else that's new. I think, no matter what iteration of Darkhawk you enjoy, there's going to be something exciting in here for you.

(Image credit: Logan Lubera (Marvel Comics))

Abnett: I think it perfectly captures the spirit of Darkhawk, in all the phases of his history, showcasing the great eras of his life (so far). So, there's a thrill of nostalgia. But there's also some great adventure and a gripping setup for what will happen next.

Nrama: Do you want to do more Darkhawk stories following this?

Fingeroth: Sure. Mike and I always have our amulets ready…

Manley: I'd be up for it if things could be worked out. Never say Never - like Bond.

Abnett: Well, I think his future is in very good hands and I can't wait to see where it goes, but yes… of course, I'd love to. He's a great character and his story is only just beginning.

Nrama: Kyle with your story introducing a new chapter for Darkhawk. Does this mean we'll be seeing more Darkhawk stories from you past this one-shot? 

Higgins: I would say, never say never...

Darkhawk: Heart of the Hawk #1 goes on sale on April 14, in comic shops AND on digital platforms. For the best digital experience, check out our list of the best digital comics readers for Android and iOS devices.

Kat Calamia

Kat has been working in the comic book industry as a critic for over a decade with her YouTube channel, Comic Uno. She’s been writing for Newsarama since 2017 and also currently writes for DC Comics’ DC Universe - bylines include IGN, Fandom, and TV Guide. She writes her own comics with her titles Like Father, Like Daughter and They Call Her…The Dancer. Calamia has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and minor in Journalism through Marymount Manhattan and a MFA in Writing and Producing Television from LIU Brooklyn.