Chris Powell hasn't been Darkhawk in almost a year. The gem that triggers his transformation remains dormant. Now an officer and engaged, he is considering giving the gem to Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S and moving on with his life.
On duty, he gets a call to the amusement park where he first found the gem. What he finds there may just change his plans.
As you may have noticed, I love random, B-minus list and below heroes, and Darkhawk is one of those that always piqued my interest. His visual design is cool, his origins are interesting, and he's palled around with the Avengers and the New Warriors, two teams I love. He also showed up in many of Dan Abnett and Andy Lannings's cosmic sagas with Nova, and they had a way of making just about every character they touched during that time awesome.
Chad Bowers and Chris Sims seem to have a great love of Darkhawk, as well; this comic hits just about every major beat for Chris Powell. They reference his origins, his backstory, the end of his previous series, his time with the Avengers and the New Warriors, his presence in the aforementioned Abnett and Lanning stories, and there is a visual reference to Avengers Arena.
This comic desperately wants to be the first issue of a new series, and it would be a great starting issue.
The problem is, of course, that this is a one-shot with no promise of a follow-up series. That context makes the information this comic is giving you feel a little pointless. I like Darkhawk, but I want to see him kicking ass as opposed to having an identity crisis about the gem.
There is the potential that this could get a series; Marvel has made it clear that these one-shots are testing the waters of public interest in these characters. If Darkhawk does take off, well, then the groundwork has already been done for his return.
Sliver Sable and the Wild Pack (sans the Wild Pack) did a better job of putting together an engaging single issue. It was a particularly interesting day in the life of Silver Sable with her killing a bunch of Neo-Nazis, which is a worth task for anyone. It was a flowing, interesting, and action-packed story all its own. I don't know that much about the backstory and personality of Silver Sable, but I didn't need to in order to enjoy that issue.
Even Master of Kung Fu (God help me, I'm about to vaguely compliment that book) cut the pretenses of being the launchpad for a new comic and just had its own stupid, unfunny, and asinine story. Darkhawk #51 is at least miles better than Master of Kung Fu in terms of quality, but this comic does hobble itself by not wanting to be its own single-issue story.
All of these complaints aside, I would be remiss to say that this comic has not entertainment value. Chris Powell is presented in a likable manner, and the course his story takes in this issue is engaging. His identity crisis over possibly losing Darkhawk is fascinating to read about.
Plus, Kev Walker is here to provide some great artwork. His characters generally look really good. His Darkhawk is a bit more oddly shaped than I'm used to, and it looks a little over-designed. However, the comic does look good aside from that, and the armor is not so bad that it becomes distracting. Java Tartaglia provides some good color work to boot, so the comic has an overall cohesive and effective art design.
Believe it or not, I do still recommend this comic. My criticisms weren't enough to sink the comic for me; they only made this a little underwhelming as a one-shot. It clashes against the framework of its presentation, but the story is still functional and engaging. Plus, Walker and Tartaglia turn in some great work here. Give it a read. This would make for a great series if it can take off.