Review: Nighthawk #6

nighthawk6coverOne of Marvel’s most brutal and socially conscious series, Nighthawk, comes to a suitably bloody end in its sixth issues as Nighthawk and his always witty and clever tech support Tilda follow the money and find the connection between the True Patriots and the evil, gentrifying Dan Hanrahan. (Think the Koch Brothers and the Tea Party back in the day, or Donald Trump and white supremacists right now.) Writer David Walker, artist Ramon Villalobos, and colorist Tamra Bonvillain confront readers with the fact that these wealthy businessmen want crime and violence to thrive in impoverished areas of their cities to

Ramon Villalobos really ups his layout game in Nighthawk #6 keeping the pace of the comic zippy as Nighthawk and Tilda connect the dots, busts heads, and does some killing. The final battle between Revelator is suitably intimate with a 32 panel grid spread over two pages showing every blow, punch, and reversal. Walker refrains from quips in his dialogue and focuses on these two men, who have a very similar goal, beating on each other while the wounded Hanrahan watches. Tamra Bonvillain keeps her color palette restrained with skin tones and a twilight backdrop to give the hand to hand fight a tragic tinge and saves the red for the end of the comic.

Throughout its run, Nighthawk has been a bitter combination of a twisted psychological thriller (The Revelator’s methods and way of speaking.), a vigilante story like Death WishThe Crow, or Punisher, and a crime yarn with its ongoing investigation of Chicago’s corrupt police force and the connections between white supremacists and white gentrifiers. Nighthawk has that same cathartic ass kicking of Eric Draven killing his girlfriend’s murderers, but is much more socially aware.

For example, Nighthawk takes a little break from sticking sharp objects in criminals’ throats to deliver a mini-lecture about how rich real estate developers are using poverty and violence to drive property prices down so they can buy them and put up some fancy condos or a shopping mall while driving out people, who have lived in the area for a while. Nighthawk is an extremely violent hero and definitely has no predilections about killing, but he makes sure his targets are ones that are root causes of societal ills, like white supremacists, corrupt businessmen, and police officers. And during this “lecture”, Villalobos and Bonvillain don’t slack on this visuals, but show him destroying a nighthawkinteriormachine gun against a purple background in a similar manner that he has destroyed kneecaps in the past. Tilda, who is usually critical of his killing, is actually happy about this destruction of a gun and his words to the small time criminals. But, of course, Nighthawk is back on the killing path again at the end of the issue.

What makes Nighthawk #6 such an interesting read is that its protagonist fights against deep-rooted societal ills, like racism and corruption, but he does it in a fairly moral reprehensible way with surveillance drones and brutal killing. Walker makes Tilda Nighthawk’s conscience, but she also kind of wants to jump into the fray and kick some racist ass and even saves his bacon in this issue with a well-timed drone swoop. She kind of represents the reader, who appreciates Nighthawk’s stance against police brutality, systemic racism, and even gentrification, but wish he would go about it in a better way. However, we still cheer when he walks off and lets the white supremacist arming scum bad guy bleed to death.

Nighthawk #6 is a perfect conclusion to a comic that wasn’t afraid to call out white supremacism and corruption while featuring a morally flawed protagonist. And it happened to look good too thanks to the art of Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain, who brought bone-crunching action choreography, spot-on symbolism, and a murky palette to a comic that was excellent in style and content.

The ending of Nighthawk #6 is both bleak and satisfying, and it will be interesting to see what David Walker does with the character in the upcoming Occupy Avengers title.

Story: David Walker Art: Ramon Villalobos Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Story: 9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.3 Verdict: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.