Today's the day that David F Walker's incredible Nighthawk series draws to a close, and thank the cutoff-wearing teenage Jesus it was rad. Sure, now Marvel's list of Great books is down by two now (Vision's conclusion also dropped today), but Nighthawk was a hell of a ride.
As I've become accustomed to, comics legend Bill Sienkiewicz lends his skills to the cover, and its strength is it's simplicity: the book is about these two characters, Nighthawk and Tilda, and the two of them on a blank background keeps the focus on them. His sharp artwork has helped to set the tone on this book, hooking potential readers with powerful images. Denys Cowan and Chris Sotomayor also contributed to this cover, and again, it's so simple it's gorgeous. Kudos to all three artists.
At the beginning, Sherman Burrell's partner Nina is dealing with the fact that Burrell's been stabbed, she's been shot, and Nighthawk just eliminated Dixon, the crooked cop facilitating the sale of firearms to white supremacists. And this is a wonderful crux in the story - Nina has to grapple with the fact that Nighthawk is a cop-killer, and Nighthawk uses Dixon's phone to deduce that Hanrahan (the white millionaire benefiting from all the destruction and race warring) was the one orchestrating shit all along.
The story splits from there, as Nina is waiting for Burrell in the hospital, and Nighthawk goes to find Hanrahan for some street justice.
David Walker and Ramon Villalobos give it all they've got in this one, and it's remarkably well done when the focus is on Nina. She's playing the events back in her head as she waits for word on her partner and each panel is raw - she sees the blood on her hands, on her face, and the reader can sense she's making some personal decisions. Villalobos makes this an intimate, haunting sequence of events.
We also get to see Tilda deal with Nighthawk as he begins his search for Hanrahan. She's the one doing all the computing, factoring in all the different leads and making them into one coherent picture...and she's not happy about it. Back when Tilda when by Nightshade, she was a supervillain that would go toe-to-toe with some of Marvel's biggest heroes, and now she's relegated to simply putzing around a computer while Nighthawk cracks the jaw of injustice? Yeah, her anger is justified, but it melts all away when Nighthawk stops a gang fight not by whipping everyone's asses (I mean, there is a little bit of that...), but by reasoning with them and reminding Tilda why she wants to assist him.
Things escalate from there, with Nina making a crucial choice that directly impacts how the police log this case, and with John the Revelator torturing Hanrahan to the brink of death. Of course, an incredible fight sequence erupts when Nighthawk glides onto the scene: this is arguably Villalobos' best work, as every punch and every kick follows an organic choreography.
Tamra Bonvillain is the unsung hero on this book, providing different moods and creating an ambiance that enhances an already tight story. She does wonderful work during the Nina contemplation spread, as well as the intricate grid of combat between Nighthawk and the Revelator. She's a rising star in this business, and her work on this star-crossed book should be cherished.
And it all wraps on during the conclusion, which offers one of the most satisfying conclusions to a comic I've read in a hell of a long time.
It's a crying shame Marvel pulled the plug on this book. Nighthawk dug deep into the problems of racial injustice, hatred, gentrification, and corruption that are all too prevalent on the news, and it did it in a way that wasn't forced. It was relatable in a way most super-hero comics are not, and it's a travesty that Marvel couldn't suck it up and let this book mature instead of axing it for several more Avengers titles. Walker and Villalobos finished their tale masterfully, but they should be allowed to do more.