I remember being in Junior High. I normally had a miserable time in school, but this new, bigger environment was far worse as I have several mental disabilities. But I hadn’t yet been concretely diagnosed. People just thought I hated school. In truth, I was suffering from agoraphobia and severe social anxiety. My only happy outlet was when my grandpa would visit and take me comic book shopping at the local grocery store. At that time, I only collected horror comics and wrestling magazines. But one day, I spied a copy of “Darkhawk” #6. Intrigued mostly by his look, I brought it home. This character was about my age and had a lot of pressures resting on his shoulders. Way worse things than I was going through. I guess you could say he inspired me. More superhero comics followed soon after. But he was always my first. He was special to me. The rest, as they say, is history. Presented below is the story from “Darkhawk” #1. I hope this tale takes you on a trip back through memory lane and happier times as much as it does me. Enjoy!
It was a occurrence that New Yorkers had grown way to accustomed to. The thing you would hear first was always maniacal laughter. What followed was the sight of a bat-like glider as it burst through the clouds, a crazed goblin riding atop, and a stream of smoke left in the creature’s wake. That was if you were lucky! The goblin in question this time was the infamous Hobgoblin! And lucky for the people below, he was way to preoccupied to notice them this day. Like a missile, the Hobgoblin rockets up to an open window in a nearby skyscraper. He hovers there while the man in the office swivels in his chair to meet the goblin’s intense gaze. The man, Phillipe Bazin, never flinches as the impatient monster demands the whereabouts of the item he was hired to locate for him. Phillipe states that the Egyptian pottery was found, but nothing like what the Hobgoblin desires. The hovering supervillain enters the office window then. He fires a bolt of energy from his fingertip and shatters the ancient bowel! He moves so that his hideous face is even with Bazin’s and threatens that he’s in danger of putting him in a bad mood. (This Bazin guy’s cool as a cucumber under pressure. I mean, showing no fear at the sight of a being with a snake-like tongue and demonic eyes! I’d be terrified. I have actually. I went to a strip club once. Scary!)
Later that night, at the ruined wreckage that was once a popular amusement park, two thugs dressed in expensive suits are physically threatening a poor homeless man. They demand to know the location of a certain item. The man replies fearfully that he has no idea what they’re talking about. But before the men can get more violent, someone from a nearby limo tells them to stop. They do so immediately and enter the car. The man inside looks to the old bum and throws a wad of cash out of the car window. It splashes into a puddle. He remarks that the money is in case his memory should improve. Phillipe Bazin then orders the driver to leave. (Man, for the money needed to create a wad of cash this big, I’d be Bazin’s best friend for life. What? I gots comics ta buy!)
Our attention is then turned to the courthouse where Assistant DA, Grace Powell, rushes through the hallway, on her way to eat a very late lunch. As she rounds a corner, she’s surprised by the sudden appearance of a peculiar man dressed in a suit and wearing sunglasses. He pulls out an envelope from his inner jacket pocket. (The sunglasses are what makes this guy peculiar. We all remember the Unabomber, right? For all we know, the envelope could have exploded like on an episode of “Inspector Gadget”!) He offers it to her. She sees that it’s filled with a large sum of money. All she has to do is leave well enough alone and drop her case involving Phillipe Bazin and no-one gets hurt. Grace knocks the envelope to the ground. She replies that she can’t be bought at any cost. The man picks up the scattered cash and leaves. Grace then crawls into a corner and sits, shaking visibly. The obvious threat had left her frightened for her family’s safety.
Speaking of Grace Powell’s family, things didn’t exactly improve for her mental state upon returning home. Her two youngest boys were fighting while her eldest son, Chris, tried to tear them apart and calm his mom’s frazzled nerves at the same time. To top things off, her husband, Mike, was a beat cop and he was extremely late for supper. Chris tried to talk calmly to his mother, to make her feel better. But it turned out, this wasn’t needed as Mike came in through the backdoor. Grace threw her arms around her husband in an instant relieved. She confided in him that she was threatened at work by one of Bazin’s goons. He replied how they should both just give up their jobs, move out of the city. If the good guys only had a type of edge against all of this crime….. Chris exclaimed how he wished he could help out somehow, but this conversation was cut short by the twin boys’ growling stomachs. (Trust me, these two kids don’t need a reason to start another fight. Seriously, I lost track of how many times this happens in just this single issue! As if brothers really fight that much. I mean, there was this one time with deuling pistols at dawn as kids…..)
The meal was pretty uneventful except that one of the twins asked their father to take them to see the abandoned amusement park before it was demolished completely over the weekend. He agreed that he would have the time that coming Sunday. The kids were both overjoyed. But as Sunday came, their father and mother were both too busy with work to take them. They implored Chris to take them instead, but the teen youth had promised that the three of them would stay inside for safety. Of course, this rule went out the window when a couple of Chris’ friends arrived and wanted him to accompany them to get some sodas. (“Sodas?” What decade is this anyway that he’s so horribly tempted by a soda at their local malt shop? What’s next, a trip to the pictures to take in the newest Bela Lugosi movie? Sheesh!) The twins are less than pleased, but agree when they’re promised milkshakes upon his return.
Chris arrived home much later than expected. But instead of finding his brothers, he was greeted by the frantic face of his mother! The twins were missing! After the initial shock wore off, Chris came to the realization that they had to be at the amusement park. He calmed his mother as best he could and then set out to find his younger siblings. It didn’t take long before he located the place. Spying a homeless man, he questioned him if he’d seen two boys in the area. He replied that he had and pointed in the general direction. Chris heard his brothers’ hushed voices upon entering the remains of the funhouse. He began to scold them after they were discovered, but the sound of male voices below caught his attention. Carefully and quietly, he crept to get a better look. What he saw were men that identified themselves as associates of Mr. Bazin. They handed over a large sum of money to someone seated across from them…..Officer Mike Powell! (Man, this Bazin dude has cash coming out of his ears! I bet he never pays with a check in a supermarket. No. Only the truly ancient hold up the line with this archaic practice. Monsters!)
Mike looks at the money. But one of the gangsters decides to get a bit too mouthy, causing Mike to strike out with his fist! A shot is fired and the crooked cop ends up being clubbed in the back of the head by the butt of a pistol as he turns towards the sound. The criminals decide then to just kill Officer Powell! They aim downward to fire when a child’s voice cries out in terror! The gunman spies the cause of the sudden noise and pulls one of Chris’ twin brothers from his hiding place! He aims the weapon at the boy’s head and prepares to pull the trigger! Chris leaps from the shadows, knocking the gun flying and freeing his sibling! (Talk about an action-packed scene! I’m on the edge of my seat! And it’s not just because I slept goofy last night and my back’s out! Gotta love being in your 40’s!)
There’s a brief struggle and Chris tells the twins to run. He then throws the bribe money in the gunman’s face and quickly follows. The three of them don’t get far, however, as the floor beneath them gives way! They fall onto another level. After checking for injuries, they take in their surroundings. It appears to be a type of storage for the Hall of Horrors exhibit. The three brothers make their way through the maze of mannequins dressed up to look like gruesome fiends and monstrosities, as the gangsters make their way downwards. When they finally do appear, guns drawn, Chris thinks quickly and shoves his twin brothers into a nearby locker. He throws every item at his disposal at the enemy to distract the men until only another metal cabinet remains. Chris tears it off of the wall, using it as a barricade/shield. He then turns and spies a strange amulet sitting on a pedestal in a hole in the wall where the cabinet had been! (Things are warming up here, folks! I sense an origin story coming on! Plus, who wouldn’t stop to admire strange jewelry while their life is in mortal danger? No-one, that’s who!)
Chris grabs the strange amulet. Maybe he could use it as a weapon. He thinks about how these men want to murder his brothers. He wants to protect them. Then, as if in response, Chris Powell is no more and a strange, armored being stands in his place! (I tried this with several pieces of my mom’s jewelry as a teen. The only result was that I looked fabulous!) The villains break through just then. Wanting nothing more than to protect his family, a blast of eerie energy shoots from his chest, knocking the criminals flying! Guessing that he must be dreaming, Chris lifts the cabinet overhead, as if it were made of tissue paper, and tosses it at the men as they try to recover! Shots are then fired, but Chris dodges the bullets almost as if they’re in slow motion! The men keep getting back up and rushing him, but he throws them as simply as darts through the air!
While Chris is preoccupied, one criminal pulls loose an electrified cable from the rotting wall and tries to attack him! Instinctively, Chris dodges and hits the fuse box to the park! He drops dead moments later. Never seeing a corpse in his life, Chris pauses. ( Wussy. I remember my days, back in the ‘Nam…..) He then uses some discarded rope to tie up the remaining, unconscious goons. Chris sees his reflection in a cracked mirror while he binds the gangsters. To say he’s shocked is an understatement. His thoughts are interrupted by the twins as they cry out from the locker. His brothers can’t see him like this, he thinks. And then, in a flash, the being is gone and Chris is back! That’s when he remembers his father. Climbing back up through the hole in the floor, he finds him in a nearby room.
As his father turns to him, Chris pleads that he tell him that this isn’t as it looks. Mike looks ashamed as he replies that he can’t. He continues by asking his son to look after his mother and brothers. He leaves then without another word. Chris returns to his twin brothers and frees them. They’re less than pleased about being shoved into a musty, old locker, but he gets them home safely. He holds the amulet as he does so. The next day, Chris returns to the site only to see it demolished completely by the city. He thinks about how he’ll never know more about the amulet now as he stands there in the debris. That’s when he hears the old bum’s voice tell him that the power must be used, not abused, by a Darkhawk. Chris turns but he’s alone. (Good God! I know who the old, homeless man is! He’s Batman!)
Grace receives a call when the boys are all home. The voice on the other end tells her to leave Bazin alone or she’ll have one less mouth to feed! Enraged by this, Chris goes to his bedroom and concentrates upon his other form. He quickly transforms once again. He then vows that he will be the edge that justice needs. He will be the Darkhawk! Phillipe Bazin gets off of his phone at this exact same time and turns to the perching nightmare that is the Hobgoblin. He tells the goblin how the item was found, along with the body of one of his men, but it was lost when the amusement park was bulldozed over that morning. The men did report being attacked by a strange being. Hobgoblin swears that whoever has the relic he desires will suffer greatly before he dies.
Dedicated to my brother, Eric James Miller. He’s dealing with some tough medical problems right now and I wanted him to know just how much I love him. Take good care of yourself, bro. I’m always here if you need me. Always.