Friday, July 6, 2012

Discuss: Nighthawk

Karen: Any thoughts on this long-time Defender?


david_b said...

Seeing the slightly confusing earlier appearances of both Squadron's Supreme and Sinister (coupled with Earth's 616 and 712), the best version of Nighthawk is depicted here in the Bronze Age Defenders.

Thomas took a second rate villain and made an even better heroic team member, turning the Defenders into a solid team book. Still a bit bland in nature, Kyle perfectly fit a hole, layering in a nice on-going subplot about his finances (an on-going barb against his Bruce Wayne counterpart persona, no doubt..).

Coupled with a bright cape and jetpack, his dark blue outfit was the HUGE improvement, most likely on most folks' Top 10 list of best Bronze outfits created. Seemingly very similar to Cap's Nomad incarnation.

(I frankly couldn't stand the terrible gray suit with brown nose.)

Personality-wise, he fit in quite cozy with the bombastic nature of Hulkie and Namor.., adding dedication to Stephen and Val. I sometimes view his supportive role as what Hawkeye would have brought to the team if he had stayed longer, minus the snarkiness.

Despite his token appearances elsewhere, like the Vision I can't see Kyle's identity as anything more than a team player.

But a darn fun one.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember being slightly confused about his origins. He rocks up in that Avengers story (Squadron Sinister) with Roy cheekily doing a parody of the JLA (so I guess that makes Nighthawk Batman) but I seem to remember that that is supposed to be in an alternate dimension created by the Grand Master. He then rocks up in the Defenders as a henchman of Nebulon seemingly now real and in our world, although I think there was an explanation for that. Then it turns out that he’s the son of a zillionaire, so why was he working for Nebulon? Not smooth.

I like the reality and ambiguity of the Marvel millionaires. Bruce Wayne was just ridiculously loaded as a explanation of how he could afford it all. Chris Nolan even said that they started the films from the standpoint that the money was his super power. With Stark, it’s all dirty money, with Jan she was just well-heeled, not fabulously wealthy, and with Nighthawk it brings all its own problems too. It’s a lot better handled. The only Marvel character I can think of who is just stupidly rich for the sake of it is the Angel.

I think different writers handled him well. I liked the way Englehart made Val& Kyle both want to turn the Defenders into a proper team (well, pseudo family, actually) while Strange & Namor kept telling them it was just an unofficial liaison. It kind of gave him a purpose in the team as plots did not originate with or revolve around him. Gerber soon sorted that out. I remember ‘Nighthawk’s brain’ very fondly, with Sal matching Gerber’s outré scripts with some Starlinesque panel structure.

I thought the way they killed him off was rubbish.


nude0007 said...

I think Nighthawk became a really cool character considering he was originally a villan and a Bat-man rip off. I like the name Nighthawk much better too, as a hawk conjures images of fierce power while bat just conjures images of annoying rodents. His costume remake was one of the better costumes too, although I thought the original had possibilities. I thought it was the stupid hawk nose that mostly ruined his original. A few other tweaks and it would have been cool too.

Edo Bosnar said...

A great character and, for me, a quintessential Defender - in fact, the Defenders don't seem complete without him (same with Val). I also agree with david_b, in that I don't think he can really function on his own, or even as part of another team.
Like a few others here, I like the way his wealth often caused him problems, perhaps best illustrated in the Sons of the Serpent story, in which he was unwittingly financing the Defenders' enemies.

Karen said...

That dark blue costume really is sweet, isn't it? I hated when they added the weird feather things around his mask later. So unnecessary.

He was always "the normal guy" in Defenders, often providing the reader with a point of view to relate to.

His powers were fairly laughable -he got twice as strong and fast at night, right? - but a solid character as far as story-telling goes.

I didn't know Marvel had killed him off. Was that post Civil War? Of course, it's not like a comic book death actually means anything any more.

Chuck Wells said...

I always really liked Nighthawk in The Defenders. In recent years he was reunited with versions of his former criminal cohorts of The Squadron Sinister in Marvels "Thunderbolts" series, a move that I approved of and I felt like Kyle Richmond could have starred in a blended group of Squadron Sinister/Squadron Supreme in their own monthly title.

Like you, I was unaware that he had been killed off in current continuity, but there's nothing remotely recognizable of the Marvel of old in what their publishing these days anyway, so who cares?

J.A. Morris said...

I thought he was great in Defenders, of course as kid, I didn't realize he was a Batman stand-in until years later!

Anonymous said...

Love that costume (I would love a Nighthawk Marvel Legends), but I never really paid much attention to him. He looked really cool on those Defenders covers, but he was best as a background hero, like Hellcat and Son of Satan.


david_b said...


REALLY wish he was a Legend fig as well, along with Black Knight, Mantis and Swordsman, but my building Defenders team will have to stay incomplete. And those customs creations can be kinda expensive, as I've found out.

William said...

I always liked Nighthawk. I remember really digging his costume as a kid. He's one of the main reasons I got into the Defenders.

The last time I saw him was in an early issue of the last Thing solo series (written by current Spider-Man scribe, Dan Slott). I think Slott was trying to revive a little of the Bronze Age. In the story Thing, Nighthawk and some other old school heroes teamed up to battle Arcade in Murder World. It was a pretty cool series that was a lot of fun, so of course it was cancelled after just a few issues.

Also, put me down as someone who would love to have a Nighthawk (and Hellcat) Marvel Legend figure.

humanbelly said...

Such a wonderfully imperfect guy who managed to perform above the level you'd expect from his abilities & skill-set (as mentioned above, not unlike Hawkeye--- except from a rich, priviledged background). DREADFUL mega-rich father; spoiled, unfocused, self-centered childhood; killed (he believed) his girlfriend/fiancee in a drunken car-wreck; dabbled in supervillaindom (which I don't recall ever being exactly explained, either)-- there's not a small amount of a Stephen Strange-type turnaround with him. His wanting to come around to the side of the angels was so believably and naturally handled in that early Nebulon arc (that was the one, right?)-- you just kind of started pulling for him right off.
In a way, he sort of introduced a consistent "traditional" superhero personna to the face of the EXTREMELY oddball, idiosyncratic Defenders. He's really the only member that thinks the way other mainstreamers do-- the only one that's remotely a normal, regular guy-- when compared to Dr Strange, Namor, the Hulk, and Valkyrie. As such, he becomes more or less the team's Stage Manager, of all things-- and it's a great role to see in a comic book. Very unusual for an active hero, and it drives him nuts, but his struggles make him all the more endearing.
If you think about it, there's a bit of a Peter Parker vibe that he carries around with him during his Defenders tenure. Lord, SO MANY bad things happen to him specifically! His financial empire is hijacked by trusted associates, his brain gets stolen, he gets crippled, huge legal troubles, his secret identity if forfeit, Trish Starr loses an arm--- geeze, and then he finally gets killed as almost an inconvenient afterthought. And he's always plagued by frustration and self-doubt. The guy was always a dependable pack-member who found himself thrust into the titular Alpha Dog role in a group of uber-Alphas. I find that I probably had a great deal of admiration for him, in retrospect-!


Doug said...

David --

There is a Black Knight figure, and it was actually well done. Huge shoulder pads, but other than that really nice. Looks great on my shelf with the rest of the Avengers!

I'll definitely second Karen's comment on the wings that were added to the eyes of Kyle's mask. Didn't add a thing...


Fred W. Hill said...

My favorite era of the Defenders was when Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Dr. Strange & the Hulk made up the core, with various guest stars routinely popping up. In regard to Richard's comments, there were actually two Nighthawks -- the one in the main Marvel universe who was given powers by the Grandmaster and joined the Squadron Sinister and later reformed and joined the Defenders. Then there was the member of the Squadron Supreme of an alternate universe (essentially Marvel's version of the DC universe!). And although Roy Thomas created both versions of Nighthawk as well as the Defenders, I don't beleive he wrote any of the Defenders stories with Nighthawk, Len Wein bringing him into the Defenders during his brief run. In my view, though, it was really Steve Gerber who made Kyle Richmond a memorable character in his own right -- more than just a homage to the Distinguished Competition's Caped Crusader. Of course, Gerber really put Kyle through the wringer -- it's a wonder he didn't crack up!

Rip Jagger said...

Someone referred to Nighthawk as a "second-rate villain" above, but in my eyes, he's always been a winner.

I loved the Squadron Sinister when they debuted in Avengers and soon Nighthawk was showing up in Daredevil. His faux-Batman identity was a fun twist at the time. But in the Defenders he became an even more vivid character, and donned what is still one of the best costumes in the Marvel Universe.

Nighthawk became the main cog in the Defenders machine alongside Valkyrie and since he was just below star status the writers felt free to really play up the changes in his life, even ending it more than a few times.

Nighthawk was the loser hero we could like, a nice guy trying to do the right thing, but alas not always succeeding.

Add in the Nighthawks from across the multiverse, and you have a character who has definitely risen above his doppleganger origins.

Rip Off

david_b said...

Great discussion from everyone on a super Bronze hero. My 'second rate' villainry mention was from the standpoint that he never initially came across as a heavy in the same measure as Red Skull or Doom. In fact, seeing Tom Fagen dressed in the original outfit at Rutland in Avengers 119 was my first glimpse of the outfit ever.

Thanks much for the correction, Doug. Since mingling around the Legends custom pages and seeing some great renditions of Black Knight and Swordy, I had missed he was an actual release (Ooops). I've done some Mego and Famous Cover customs, but haven't delved into making my own Legends customs yet.

humanbelly said...

By an extraordinary stroke of coincidence, I picked up the TPB of 2008's "The Last Defenders" series by Casey & Muniz. It's a mostly enjoyable romp that's set in the midst of the Initiative- naturally- but isn't overwhelmed by the dreadful ambience that surrounded it. The premise is pretty neat, and COMPLETELY sets the stage for the group to have a continued life after the mini-series. (Don't know if that happened). Joe Casey does a great job of sythesizing old threads w/ current ones, and pulling in occassional deep-history details to ground the book wonderfully in the "true" MU (There's an appearance of two "Quintronic Men"-- who were lame back in Incredible Hulk several decades ago). He also takes several disparate characters and gives them realistic, identifiable voices. Man, I wish Joe Casey could be Editor-in-Chief. I have a feeling we'd have a much more user-friendly Marvel on our hands. The Muniz art is okay, at best. He's very reminiscent of Joe Staton (which is cool), but has a lot of trouble w/ faces-- particularly in profile. The men tend to look unnaturally swollen about the cheeks and jaw.

But it's great to see ol' Kyle still plugging away, and still as consistently unsure of himself as ever. . . !


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