Shadowhawk II #1
What am I reading this time around? Comics, of course! One of the most underrated 90’s badasses, Shadowhawk! Specifically, Shadowhawk II #1, the second series of the run, from 1993. Let’s get into it!
Shadowhawk was created by Jim Valentino and debuted in 1992, in Youngblood #2. This guy has a pretty tragic story. He has the aids, okay… full blown. It doesn’t end well for this guy, in the end, but I still think his story was worth telling.
The first iteration, Paul Johnstone, wore an advanced bulletproof suit of armor that granted him super strength and agility. Valentino was the creator, writer and artist, and I feel like he really nailed the style of the time. Grit!
First, I have to start with the cover. I always liked this cover. If you follow my Instagram, you’ll know how much I like shiny comic book covers. I’m a sucker for it.
This one is pretty cool, because it’s die-cut, with a chrome Shadowhawk symbol on the page underneath. The cover is also all-black and embossed. It’s a pretty damn sweet cover, let’s be honest.
So, in this issue, Shadowhawk (real name: Paul Johnstone) is getting back in the game after a layoff of six weeks. After a taxing throwdown with The Dragon, Shadowhawk has to heal up that total bod that superheroes have.
He’s all healed up an’ ready to smash… not like that, though… just smash faces… not like that, though. Moving on!
While he’s been out, some murderous cray cray has closed in on Shadowhawk’s turf, and ol’ Shadowhawk ain’t all too happy ‘bout that! Not only that, but the dude is being a copycat and using the alias, “Hawk’s Shadow”. Oh, and he’s also got a super villain group called, The Regulators, on his plate. Needless to say, he’s got his hands full.
Shadowhawk goes about his normal patrol and straight mercs some fools, saving a lady from some bad guys and mauling them so bad, the lady becomes ill from the sights and sounds. Shadowhawk be puttin’ in that work. Did I do that right? Do I sound cool? I think I stuck the landing.
The Regulators are meeting up, looking to do some criminal stuff, as criminals do, and recruiting a funny talking bad guy named, Hardedge. They’re aware that Shadowhawk is back in action and are plotting a little somethin’ somethin’ to make his life harder.
Meanwhile, we get a little insight to Hawk’s Shadow and it’s revealed that he’s a… well, he’s a racist. Yep, no bones about it. Pictures on the wall of uncle Cletus-Bobby-Rufus (I assume that’s his name… I may have made that up), in full Klan gear, no less.
So, not only is this guy a copycat (a cardinal sin on the playground) and a murderer, but he’s also one of thooose people. If you can’t tell, yet, we’re not supposed to sympathize with Hawk’s Shadow.
Hawk’s Shadow is out on “patrol” and spots what he perceives to be an attack. In actuality, it’s an interracial couple just having a little PDA. Well, our resident Klan member murders both of them in cold blood. So, we’re off to a great start…
The Regulators show up to break into a jewelry store. Not just for some bling and a bit of good ol’ fashioned shenanigans, but to make a statement. That statement being, if you don’t want them to break into your shit… pay up!
Shadowhawk is nearby and, hearing the alarm, goes to investigate. He finds the Regulators there and decides to run up on ‘em. He fights dirty, throwing baking soda in their eyes and throwing sharp objects. I like his style. But Blackjack emerges from the store to put a roadblock on Shadowhawk’s tactics.
It ends up being a bit anticlimactic, because The Regulators run off, leaving Shadowhawk to evade police.
Shadowhawk gets wind of his copycat’s m.o. and isn’t at all happy about that, either. If you didn’t know *SPOILERS* Shadowhawk (Paul Johnstone) is black. So, you can see how this hits home for him.
He has a little bit of an existential crisis when he hears about the young couple from earlier in the comic. You know, the whole “am I making a difference” thing that superheroes do. Luckily, his friend, Christina, is there to give him a pep talk.
We get a little more of The Regulators being bad guys. They reiterate the plan of extorting protection from shop owners. Pretty straight forward stuff, as far as they go.
By the way, this series is full of double page spreads. I think it’s just Valentino’s style. Some of them are pretty sweet, though. We get a pretty good one at the end of the comic.
And that’s pretty much it! All in all, I like this comic. It’s not ground breaking or anything, but I like that Valentino wasn’t afraid to “go there” with Hawk’s Shadow and his vile motives. It’s got a gritty feel to it and definitely feels like that 90’s antihero Image style.
I never felt Valentino was the best artist, but I won’t hate. His art is serviceable and it’s always nice to see the writer do the art, too. You know you’re getting exactly what they had in mind.
I dig Shadowhawk and I think I’ll finish this story. I’ve read a few more of this series but I never collected them all, as a kid. Not from this run, anyway. I probably got this one solely because of the dope cover, so I’ll have to play a bit of catch up. I’m all in, though.
Shadowhawk, baby! What do you think of this chrome-clad badass?