Chris Powell was born in Queens as the oldest son of Mike and Grace Powell. While taking his two younger brothers to an old amusement park, Chris witnessed his dad, who was a cop, taking a bribe from the crime lord Philippe Bazin. Unfortunately, some of Bazin's hired thugs noticed him and tried to chase down the Powell kids to keep them quiet. Chris tried to find some weapon to use to protect his brothers but only found a strange amulet.
Unknown to him, this amulet was an alien artifact of a forgotten sect of Shi'ar operatives known as the Fraternity of Raptors. The amulet transformed him into Darkhawk, and he used his newfound power to stop Bazin's men without understanding what he had been turned into.
Darkhawk was created by Tom Defalco and Mike Manley and first appeared in Darkhawk issue 1 (1991), his own self-titled solo series written by Danny Fingeroth. His series went for 50 issues before cancellation. During the run of his title, Darkhawk made guest appearances in several other titles such as Amazing Spider-Man and New Warriors. But after his book ended, he became regulated to infrequent minor appearances for nearly a decade.
Darkhawk was created as a hero much in the vein of Spider-Man. He was a teenager who acquired his power by chance and was burdened by family responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of being a superhero in New York.
The character was given a new status quo in 2005 by Runaways writer Brian K. Vaughan. Darkhawk was a member of Excelsior, later known as the Loners, which was a superhero support group for young heroes looking to lead normal lives. Darkhawk was one of the primary members, playing up the disastrous family drama and anger management issues being Darkhawk has caused for him. This character direction was continued by C.B. Cebulski in a Loners limited series.
A Cosmic Character
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning picked up the character from there and had him appear in the Secret Invasion tie-in arc of Nova. This was the start of a new direction for Darkhawk. Much like what was done for Nova in Annihilation, Darkhawk was being launched as a new key player in the cosmic scene in the War of Kings. Retcons were made to Darkhawk's history, expanding his amulet's origin to make him part of a new concept called the Fraternity of Raptors. Events in the War of Kings surrounding the death of Lilandra propelled Darkhawk into a new direction. While Nova was the universe's last lawman, Darkhawk had become the universe's most wanted.
Major Story Arcs
Heart of the Hawk
After the initial discovery of the amulet, Chris' father disappeared and the rest of his family remained in danger from Bazin's men. He used the power of the amulet to protect his family and get to the bottom of his dad's connection to Philippe Bazin. It led him through a conspiracy between Bazin and the police, involving the creation of superpowered enemies such as Savage Steel and Lodestone. Eventually, Darkhawk's search took him to an island where he found both his dad and Bazin. Darkhawk was hurt badly, and his dad protected him from Bazin. But it looks like both Mike Powell and Philippe Bazin died and their bodies were washed out to sea.
With that crisis seemingly over, though not in the way Chris preferred, he questioned whether to keep the amulet any longer. There seemed to be no need to protect his family anymore. But in the end, he decided that Darkhawk continue on as a New York superhero.
Unknown to Chris, the Darkhawk armor and amulet were connecting his mind to a stream of information and memories called the Datasong. The technology he was using was not meant for human biology, and his mind had great difficulty coping. What resulted was a period of Darkhawk's history left ambiguous, comprised of both truth and delusions.
Darkhawk came to believe a false origin of his amulet. It was something that his mind could more easily understand than the truth. He invented an alien crime lord named Dargin Bokk, who was responsible for the creation of the alien technology he was using. Then there was the Evilhawk armor, which was used by Bokk to become Darkhawk's archnemesis. None of this was true. Evilhawk was actually another configuration of Chris' own armor and a result of Chris' mind losing control.
Another effect of the stresses being put on Chris' mind was an issue with his anger. He was losing his temper more often, and this caused even more friction with his already troubled family. Eventually, his anger drove him to move out on his own.
A New Warrior and Avenger
Despite the mental toll the amulet was unknowingly taking on him, Darkhawk was a capable superhero. He joined the New Warriors, hoping some contact with other teenage heroes who might understand what he was going through would help him cope with the stresses he was under. However, he was never a regular participant of the team and only joined the New Warriors on a few adventures.
Darkhawk's performance on an adventure with Dr. Strange's Secret Defenders impressed Spider-Woman enough for him to get an invitation to meet with the Avengers West Coast. He managed to get reservist status but never became that involved with the Avengers. The West Coast branch dissolved not long after he had been recruited.
Darkhawk's anger issues eventually got the best of him, and Chris Powell decided to call it quits. Being Darkhawk had become so stressful and put such a burden on his relationship with his family that his perception of teen superheroes changed. Now living on the west coast, he joined a group of like-minded young heroes assembled by Rick Jones to stop the Runaways from making some of the same mistakes they did at that age. Originally known as Excelsior, they later became known simply as the Loners. He got romantically involved with one of the people responsible for keeping the group together, Mickey Musashi formerly known as Turbo.
After some time, fractures began forming in the group and Chris was very much involved in it. First there was the arrival of Mattie Franklin, who seemed intent on tempting some of the Loners to get back into their costumed identities. Chris was one of those tempted. Another problem was Phil Urich. Chris and Phil were not friends.This came mostly from the fact that both men cared for Mickey. Phil's unhinged sanity was pushed to the point that he assaulted Chris and took the amulet, transforming himself into a configuration of the Darkhawk armor. Chris was able to make contact with the amulet and transform himself into another configuration so he could fight Phil. The rest of the Loners joined in the fight, and Hollow removed the amulet from Phil, returning it to Chris.
For further details: Secret Invasion
Chris soon returned to New York, as did many of the other Loners. But unlike the Loners, he changed his mind about the group's goal. Much to the anger of some of his friends and Mickey, he chose to recommit to being Darkhawk and registered with the Initiative. His old friend from the New Warriors, Justice, was able to get him assigned to a nice job as chief of security for Project: PEGASUS. It was all an attempt to get his life back in order again as Chris Powell and as Darkhawk. He had a job, he was reunited with his mom and brothers, and he was getting counseling for his anger management problems.
Shortly after taking the job, the Skrull invasion kicked off, and Project: PEGASUS became a target for the Skrulls. Darkhawk had to defend the facility from them with the help of Nova and a partially resurrected Quasar. This was the first time he had seen Nova for some time, and he was surprised at how much his fellow former New Warrior had grown and developed. This observation took special significance to him because it held up a mirror to his own lackluster development in the same amount of time. The heroes were able to successfully defend the facility, with the surprise help of members of the newly revived Nova Corps.
War of Kings
It was not long after the repelled Skrull invasion that Darkhawk came across another alien. Talon, an alien with armor very similar to Darkhawk's and knowing far more about it, appeared at the Powell house, bringing a hostile alien Hunter-Drone with him. There was an explosion as a result, causing injury to Darkhawk's mother and younger brothers. Talon explained what was happening. He was a Raptor, as was Darkhawk. Thousands of years ago, the universe was guided by the secret hand of the Fraternity of Raptors, but now the only Raptors left were himself and Darkhawk. The Hunter-Drone was sent by those who would see the Fraternity of Raptors never return. Talon said he needed Darkhawk's help and he would teach Chris the truth about his mysterious armor. Feeling that this was his opportunity to evolve as a hero like Nova had in space and not wanting to make his family a target by staying, Darkhawk left Earth with Talon, asking Mickey to look after his family.
In space, Talon explained to Darkhawk that Raptor armor was created before the rest of the universe had ever heard of humans and so was never meant to be used by a human. This incompatibility was the root of Darkhawk's mental strain, but Talon insisted the Darkhawk could learn to sync up with the armor and overcome this. They journeyed to the Negative Zone, where Talon led the way. A stream of information called the Datasong guided the Raptors, and Talon said eventually Darkhawk would be able to hear it as he could. But Darkhawk's training would have to happen in the field, because the War of Kings between the Shi'ar and the Kree required their attention.
In an attempt to steal the Cosmic Control Rod from an insect lord named Catastrophus, Talon pushed Darkhawk to completely sync up with his armor by abandoning himself in battle. Darkhawk was able to call up a heavier configuration of his armor, and with that came access to the secret truth of his armor. Memories and information flooded his mind, and he understood what the Fraternity of Raptors truly was. The Raptors did guide the universe as Talon had said, but they did it by lies, assassinations and other such acts. They were not the heroes he had been led to believe. But there was more than that inside the armor. There was another consciousness as well, and Chris suddenly found his mind overridden by another's.
The truth was now revealed. Talon was never trying to teach Chris to sync up with the armor. He was trying to awaken the Raptor consciousness inside the armor so it could use Chris as a host body, as Raptors do. Darkhawk was now Razor, and the two Raptors completed this mission, killing Catastrophus and taking the Cosmic Control Rod. Razor was confused by what was going on but followed his fellow Raptor's lead. Razor said he could still feel Chris resisting inside, but that Chris' struggles were diminishing and would eventually be silenced forever.
Razor and Talon then presented the Cosmic Control Rod to Blastaar in order to form an alliance with the Negative Zone king. After that, they returned to regular space to get more directly involved in the war between the Shi'ar and the Kree. While Talon met with Emperor Vulcan, Razor infiltrated Chandilar, the throne world of the Shi'ar Empire. It was there that Lilandra was attempting to retake control of the empire. When an attempt was made on her life by pro-Vulcan forces, Razor disguised himself and entered the panic crowd. The chaos allowed him a clear shot, and he assassinated Lilandra. But before making his escape, he was spotted in his true appearance by Marvel Girl. Powell regains control of his body immediately after the shooting and is confused by the chaos around him unaware that he just killed Lilandra. He is then attacked by a grief stricken Gladiator and Havok.
Chris now proved to be in rather superb form not only in control of his armor and its many varying abilities such as switching his metallic suit for a carbon-fiber one mid-battle to escape Polaris magnetic based powers but he was also able to evade and counter-attack Korvus and to a degree Havok and Gladiator till the latter had him. He escaped when they were bombarded from above. Talon tried to contact Razor and discovered that Chris had retaken control. Talon tried through the use of the Datasong to allow Razor to reacquire control and seemed successful in doing so. Razor then created a stargate to jump to Talon's location. Upon arriving, however, it turned out that Razor never reacquired control and Chris engaged Talon in a very destructive battle as they tore through a Shi'ar ship. Darkhawk proved again that he was very much in control of himself and his suit's abilities as he engaged Talon once again until he managed to forcibly expel Talon and allow the Skrull Commander H'jke Jeeku to reassert himself. The commander quickly realized that unlike Chris, he could not win the fight against Talon for control. After making Chris swear that he would find and destroy the other amulets, he killed himself by diving into the engine core.
Chris, who was now about to be engaged by the Imperial troops, fled with the ship and went on his new path to seek and destroy the amulets.
Riddle of the Sphinx
The Fault, a devastating anomaly ripped open by the war between the Shi'ar and Kree, was allowing more amulets to appear in the universe. It was up to Darkhawk to stop them from finding hosts. To this end, he journeyed to the Shard system, which had been torn apart by Fault disruptions. Unfortunately, the Shi'ar managed to track him there and forwarded this information to others. The Nova Corps picked up on this intelligence and took their ship, the Resolute Duty, into the system so Nova could get answers from his friend. Darkhawk would have preferred not to face Nova though. He tried to evade Nova, but was eventually pinned down.
Thankfully, Nova was more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. There were also more pressing concerns. The planet they were on was breaking apart as some horrific lifeform was literally hatching from it. A Kree archaeological team was on the planet and needed rescuing. Nova evacuated the team with the Resolute Duty while Darkhawk sought out the team leader, arriving too late to stop the Kree man from finding and touching an uncovered Raptor amulet. A new Raptor, Gyre, was now awake, and he assaulted Nova and Darkhawk, keeping them from escaping the planet before it came apart and was drawn into the Fault.
In the Fault, Darkhawk and Nova found themselves drawn into a strange conflict with the Sphinx. Time had little meaning in the Fault, allowing an older version of the Sphinx to face off against a younger version. Other heroes were also plucked out of time. Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt and Namorita joined Darkhawk and Nova and were pulled into siding with the elder Sphinx. To face this challenge, the younger drafted Moonstone, Man-Wolf, Basilisk, Ulysses Bloodstone and Gyre. Darkhawk faced off against the Raptor and heard from Gyre that Talon was still active. More and more amulets were waking up, and Gyre told Darkhawk the Fratenity of Raptors could not be stopped. Despite this, Darkhawk defeated Gyre and exorcised the Raptor from the Kree archaeologist. After the challenges, the heroes were able to defeat the youngest Sphinx and escape from the Fault.
The Thanos Imperative
For further details: the Thanos Imperative
Back on the Resolute Duty, Nova and Darkhawk became suspicious that someone dangerous posing as Quasar was on Earth and had infiltrated Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. They returned to Earth and confirmed their suspicions. It was not a fake Quasar but Quasar from the horrific universe on the other side of the Fault. This Quasar had taken over the facility and was trying to bring an enormous creature through a portal from his universe. Darkhawk and Nova fought to stop him and force the creature back through the portal, but in the fight, Darkhawk was badly wounded by Quasar. He was so wounded that his life was endangered and his Raptor amulet fused to his chest. He was left in the medical care of Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. while Nova took off in pursuit of Quasar.
Along with 15 other superpowered teenagers, Darkhawk was kidnapped by Arcade and taken to Murderworld. There, they are told that only one would be allowed to leave alive. When an unknown person stalks the camp, Darkhawk attempts to find out who it is. However, when confronted with the assailant, he has his amulet forcibly ripped out of his body. Appearing to be killed, he disappears from the arena, with Chase Stein of the Runaways gaining control of his amulet. However, it is revealed that he is being kept in a coma by Arcade. When Death Locket and Apex break into Arcade's lair, Death Locket frees Darkhawk, and he is able to attack Arcade from behind while he's distracted by the fighting teens.
Powers and Abilities
Darkhawk armor is a Raptor armor forged eons ago by the Fraternity of Raptors. It's equipped with a "Datasong" that gathers information through the armor and feeds information to its wearers mind, including past memories and possible future events.
The amulet on the suit chest grants the ability to create a force blast, generate energy shields for the suit, or force fields around others. By focusing, the wearer can draw variant armors from the amulet to serve a mission purpose like the strike suit for example, which gives increased resistance due to its bulkier armor and carries micro- munitions as ordinance.
The suit itself grants flight, enhanced strength, enhanced vision, Wolverine-like claws, retractable talons, a grapple cable, and retractable glider wings that can double as shields. The grapple cable can also be used to create raptor-like scout birds which the wearer can see through and operate remotely. The suit is also capable of space flight and creating interstellar jump gates/portals.
This alternate reality was created by the time manipulations of a villain called Chronok, who traveled back from the future with a carefully laid plan that succeeded in executing most of Earth's superheroes. Darkhawk was among the very few who survived due to being overlooked by Chronok as too insignificant to bother killing. This League of Losers traveled into the future and sabotaged Chronok's plan before he could proceed into the past to carry it out. Darkhawk led this team and developed a relationship with fellow teammate Dagger, who had lost Cloak due to Chronok. After succeeding in preventing Chronok's mass killing of the superheroes of the past, Darkhawk and the others stayed in this alternate future world since there was no room for them in the past.
In this reality, Darkhawk was known as Falconer and was a member of the Queen's Vengeance.
Darkhawk was the vigilante who was thought to have stolen War Machine tech and turned nuts after SHIELD captured him. He was in fact using alien technology. Darkhawk was reactivated by U.S War Machine members, but turned out to be a psychopathic android, that could only be controlled by running a virtual reality program. In fact, the "fictional" program played out the events where Darkhawk was with the West Coast in Earth-616.
2099-like Dimension within Chronopolis
In this reality, people and villains alike both respect and fear "The Powell" or "Darkhawk The Powell". It was at first thought that this was in fact the Marvel 2099 Universe, but later in the letter columns, DeFalco cleared up that it was only a similar world contained within Chronopolis.
Fantastic Four animated series (1994-96)
Darkhawk made a cameo in the season two episodes "To Battle The Living Planet" and "Doomsday".
Ultimate Spider-Man video game (2005)
Spider-Man, while racing the Human Torch, can be heard mocking him by saying "Darkhawk is faster than you!".
Marvel Universe toyline (2009- )
He was given a figure in 2011 as part of the series. While his head mold, secondary armor, gauntlets, and wings were newly-molded pieces, the rest of the body was re-used from the third wave's black costume Spider-Man from 2009).