In July of 2017 David Walker’s “Occupy Avengers” saw it’s curtain call. The book featured Hawkeye and a diverse cast of B-List characters that traveled around “taking justice back” as their tagline suggested. The book also proved that in the hands of the right writer, so called B-List characters can have their impact in a major book.
Using characters like Red Wolf and Tilda Johnson (last seen in Walker’s Nighthawk run, which sadly was cancelled as well), Walker had Hawkeye’s team fighting the good fight. In issue 8, which is a tie-in to the Secret Empire event which was going on at the time, we see on page one of the issue a flashback of what is occurring while Hydra takes control, and near the end of the page we see a man getting gunned down. It is later on in the issue that we find out the man is Nighthawk out of costume. Yes fans, THAT Nighthawk. Unceremoniously gunned down in the street participating in a protest. The Nighthawk which is seen in the last issue of the series is actually Tilda herself, paying homage to the man she says gave her purpose and saved her life. And while it is sad that Marvel continues to be swift with the ax when it comes to cancelling books (or killing off black characters during their “special events), the saddest part here is the killing off of one of the best characters Marvel has ever had. That character came to us in the form of Kyle Richmond/Raymond Kane, better known as Nighthawk.
In 2003. writer J. Michael Straczynski re-imagined the Squadron Supreme universe into a more grittier version, revamping the characters and their origins. In Straczynski’s version, we are introduced to the new Kyle Richmond/Nighthawk, who is now an African American. This version retained the Batman homage that lead to the creation of the original Nighthawk, and included an origin story that due to its authenticity and social relevance, still angers to this day.
Like Batman, young Kyle Richmond had the unfortunate circumstance of seeing his parents gunned down in front of him. and like Batman he used this to fuel his sense of justice. Where they differ is that Batman’s parents were gunned down during a robbery attempt, which made him crusade against crime, but Nighthawk’s parents were gunned down by white supremacist, and this framed the whole purpose of Nighthawk and his crusade. Like Batman, Nighthawk works his body into peak condition and uses the fortune left to him by his parents to invest in weapons and technology to help him fight his crusade. Unlike Batman, not only will Nighthawk use a gun, but he will not hesitate to kill.
In is identity as Kyle Richmond, Nighthawk was a very shrewd and wealthy businessman who oversaw the day to day operations of his company and managed with a stern hand; as Nighthawk, he had worked his body to the peak of human perfection, and was considered one of the smartest men in the Supreme universe. He was considered an urban legend at first. A Dark Avenger protecting the black community of Chicago from all threats; particularly those involving white on black crime. He doled out his brand of justice with viciousness and conviction, playing judge, jury, and sometimes executioner to those whom have run afoul of his personal code. This code was developed when he witnessed the brutal murder of his parents, and is framed by a rage that has been inside of Nighthawk since he was a child. His mother warned him about the destructive nature of the rage within and how it could turn a person into something he is not meant to be. He was condescending and elitist, and at the same time his anger and hatred of the system that allows the mistreatment and utter disregard for blacks equates him to the everyday man. He viewed himself as a “field n#$$%r ” who would celebrate at the demise of his master.
Love him or hate him, the character of Nighthawk is easily one of the most relevant characters from his inception. He devoted to his to honor his parents, and died ironically enough, in the same manner as they did. He was Nighthawk; an anti-hero who was the product of the racist behavior society allowed to slip through the cracks. A product of the blind eye society has turned on a segment of its population, and society feigning ignorance in the face of the mistreatment, discrimination, and outright attack on that same segment. If the opposite of an action is an equal reaction, then Nighthawk was the direct reaction to society’s actions, or inaction as it may. He was the in your face reminder to those who would prey upon that same segment there was someone out there in the night who will act on their behalf. He was the living, breathing “we won’t be ignored” mantra personified. His anger, whether righteous or not, will still be felt in the Marvel U as his presence will be missed. Here’s to the last angry man.
Kyle Richmond/Raymond Kane; First appearance- November 2003, Last appearance- August 2017. He came; He saw; He kicked much ass.