Darkhawk appeared in a self-titled monthly series for 50 issues that was published by Marvel Comics from March 1991 to March 1995, and included three standalone annuals. Although created by DeFalco and Manley, DeFalco was never credited as a writer of the series. The original writer was Danny Fingeroth.
After his own series ended, Darkhawk co-starred or cameoed in other titles over the following years, such as New Warriors, Avengers/JLA, and Iron Man, eventually resurfacing in Runaways Vol.2 #1-6, followed by Marvel Team Up Vol.3 #15 and the short-lived Loners series. New Warriors writer Fabian Nicieza said in 1992 that "People keep coming up to me and asking, 'Is Darkhawk a member of the New Warriors or not?' Well, yes and no. The New Warriors isn't an official group with a rule book and charter and the like. They're more of a club for super-powered teens. So if Darkhawk wants to hang out on a Friday evening and talk about his powers, then he'll stop by the New Warriors' crash pad."
Darkhawk appeared within the Secret Invasion tie-in issues of Nova (#17-18) and was the focus of the two-issue mini-series War of Kings: Darkhawk, written by C. B. Cebulski, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. War Of Kings: Darkhawk brought closure to Chris Powell's earthbound human relationships with his family and fellow Loners team members, and serves to establish a clean slate for the sequel series, War Of Kings: Ascension, written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
Darkhawk appeared in Avengers Arena, a 2012 - 2013 series by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker.
Christopher Powell was born in Queens, New York. While witnessing his policeman father accept a bribe from a crime boss at an abandoned amusement park, teenager Chris Powell discovered a mysterious amulet. This amulet allowed him to switch places with a powerful android that his mind controlled. Powell vowed to use the amulet as "an edge against crime." In this role, he worked with other superheroes and battled a number of costumed villains.
Darkhawk soon encountered his first supervillain, the Hobgoblin, and battled him alongside Spider-Man. He next fought Savage Steel, and then Portal. He next battled the U-Foes alongside Captain America. He battled the villain Lodestone, who attempted to remove his amulet. He battled Savage Steel again, this time alongside the Punisher. Darkhawk battled the cyborg Midnight, Thunderball, and the Secret Empire alongside Spider-Man, the Punisher, Night Thrasher, Nova, and Moon Knight. Darkhawk then battled assassins from the Foreigner's 1400 Club. He battled Tombstone, who successfully removed his amulet from his chest.
Darkhawk occasionally worked with the New Warriors and was a provisional member of the West Coast Avengers. Darkhawk also battled a number of costumed villains, including the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Powell discovered that the android was stored and repaired aboard a starship in a dimension called Null Space. When he used the amulet to access the android body, his human body switched places with it. Five Darkhawk amulets were commissioned by an alien crime lord named Dargin Bokk. The scientists who created the technology eventually used them to assault Bokk. After Bokk destroyed the other scientists two of the scientists beamed their minds to Earth and merged with two Earth scientists there. Byron/Ned Dobbs and Mondu/John Trane created a sixth amulet which is the one that turned Christopher Powell into Darkhawk.
However, the events of War of Kings: Ascension cast doubt on how much of this—even the existence of Bokk himself—was real.
Later, Powell and Darkhawk were split into two separate beings, each with Powell's memories. The Darkhawk body was then transformed into a new shape when it accidentally downloaded data from the ship, later re-merging so that Powell could change back and forth between the two without teleporting to Null Space.
Powell later joined a group of former teenage superheroes who were struggling with their current lot in life called the Loners (formerly known as Excelsior). Members of this group included Phil Urich (a former Green Goblin), Turbo from the New Warriors, Lightspeed from Power Pack, and Ricochet from the Slingers. The group was hired by a mysterious benefactor - later revealed to be former Avengers sidekick and Captain Marvel and Hulk partner Rick Jones - to track down the Runaways in Los Angeles.
Powell displayed trouble controlling his anger in his Darkhawk persona, leading to a short skirmish with Turbo. Dismayed with himself, Powell admits to his teammates that he suffered a nervous breakdown. Powell decided to never turn into Darkhawk again, but this decision did not last long, as shortly thereafter the group battled the notorious Avengers villain, Ultron. Darkhawk delivered the final blow, using a darkforce blast at point blank range to blow Ultron to pieces. Following the battle and the revelation of Jones' involvement, Excelsior opted to remain together and act as a more traditional superhero team.
Excelsior eventually change their minds about being superheroes and instead become a 'superhero support group' due to the events of the superhuman Civil War rendering moot their original purpose to dissuade and/or help young superheroes cope with their powers/superhuman identities, as this role was now being officially fulfilled by the U.S. government (though Excelsior's new group mission was also fulfilled by the U.S. government). However, a new addition to the group, Mattie Franklin convinces Powell to use his powers in order to help her take down the MGH dealers that moved to Los Angeles. Powell inconsistently displays his rage issues during this time, mostly acting as a peacemaker between Mattie and Ricochet after the three team up to battle crime.
Deciding to register with the government, Darkhawk is assigned to the position of Security Chief at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S.. During the Skrull invasion, he teams up with his old team-mate Nova for two issues of that character's own title, but is also seen in the background of several issues thereafter.
Darkhawk is involved with the War of Kings event in a four-issue series written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning called War Of Kings: Ascension. With the Loners series ending with low sales and unlikely to be followed with a sequel series, series writer CB Cebulski was assigned to write a two-issue War of Kings: Darkhawk series, with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning co-scripting the second issue to ensure it tied into their own 'Ascension' series.
A second Darkhawk armor appears near the Powell family home, and the unknown occupant of the armor forces Powell to transform to his own armored form shortly before an explosion rocks the immediate area.
Powell's family survives the blast, but his mother is critically injured. The new Darkhawk introduces himself as "Talon" and claims to be part of "The Fraternity of Raptors", an order created as "the curators of history, and the custodians of the future," of which he and Powell are the last two members. He also explains that Powell's anger issues are a direct result of the amulet not being designed to work with humans. Talon offers to assist Powell with the amulet, and after some deliberation he opts to do so; the two then retreat to the Negative Zone.
The story picks up in War of Kings: Ascension. Powell and Talon are fighting a group of Chitinauts, bug troops that serve Catastrophus, a lieutenant of Annihilus, where Talon's brutal techniques horrify Powell. Later, Powell reveals that he wanted to be just like his friend Nova. Talon explains to him that the Nova Corps are nothing compared to the Fraternity of Raptors, referring to themselves as "architects of fate". Eventually, after being tricked by Talon into fighting just as lethally, Powell manages to connect to the Datasong of the Null Source, which gives him visions of the true past of the Fraternity—a history of kidnappings and assassinations which lead Powell to conclude that the Fraternity are "the bad guys." At this point, Talon attacks him, purging Powell's consciousness from the armor, which manifests a new persona: Razor.
Talon and Razor then recover the Cosmic Control Rod from Catastrophus, Talon stopping briefly to implant a suggestion in the gestating Annihilus, and proceed onward. Powell's personality is revealed not to have been wholly destroyed yet, and a vision of his father tells him that much of what he believed about the armor was false; the prior history, even Evilhawk himself, was a lie made up by his own mind, the other armor a second configuration that took control to cover earlier anger issues. Horrified, Powell's psyche breaks free of the prison it was locked in, only for Powell to find himself on a great tree adorned with thousands of amulets like his own, where he encounters gargoyle-like creatures that urge him to return to the one which he has just emerged from. Meanwhile, in the Negative Zone, Talon and Razor offer Blastaar the Cosmic Control Rod, in exchange for his assistance influencing the outcome of the War of Kings.
Powell encounters a Skrull on the tree mentioned earlier, who has a relationship with Talon much as Razor has with him. However, the Skrull also confides that humanity, as a newer race, cannot be wholly accounted for or controlled by the Raptors, and that Powell's own outbursts of rage have been growing pains in his own control. With this understanding, Powell is able to reassert control over the Darkhawk armor, but not before Razor shoots several Shi'ar and kills Lilandra.
Powell later confronts Talon, and while he is able to force the other raptor to release the Skrull temporarily, he is quick to begin asserting control again. The Skrull commits suicide to prevent Talon from manifesting, but not before he charges Powell with destroying the rest of the Raptor amulets before they can bring the Fraternity of Raptors back.
In Realm of Kings, the Shi'ar Imperium declares Darkhawk the "Galaxy's Most Wanted," making Powell an intergalactic fugitive. His old friend Nova, not willing to believe Powell could be a murderer, tracks him to the planet Shard, which is in danger of falling into a rift in space known as the Fault. Nova offers to help Powell clear his name, but they are interrupted by an attacking biomass from the Fault, and by the awakening of another Raptor, named Gyre. All three are trapped on the planet as it is disintegrated by the Fault.
Darkhawk finds himself saved, alongside Nova, by Nova's old enemy the Sphinx, who seems unaware of Darkhawk's presence. Together, the two heroes join past versions of Reed Richards, Black Bolt, and Namorita in helping the Sphinx combat his younger self. The young Sphinx draws his own warriors, including Gyre, into the battle, and Darkhawk faces and defeats Gyre in single combat, exorcising him from the Kree archaeologist he had possessed. During the fight, Gyre reveals that many more Raptors are re-awakening. Ultimately, the elder Sphinx defeats his counterpart, and mentally controls Darkhawk into giving him his younger self's Ka Stone. Nevertheless, the heroes are able to defeat the double-powered Sphinx and return to their proper places in time (except Namorita, who is pulled into Darkhawk and Nova's time).
Darkhawk returns to Earth and Project: Pegasus to help Nova fight the evil Quasar from the Cancerverse on the other side of the Fault. The evil Quasar damages Darkhawk so badly that his suit shuts down, leaving him alive but unable to accompany Nova as he goes to warn the universe about the threat posed by the Fault. Nova leaves Darkhawk in the care of Project:Pegasus' medical team.
Darkhawk appears in Avengers Arena as part of the Marvel NOW! event. He is among the young superheroes that are abducted by Arcade and sent to Murderworld despite not being a teenager himself. Arcade expects his captives to fight to the death. Darkhawk is later attacked by an unidentified cybernetic creature, which tears his transformation amulet from his chest. The amulet is found by Chase Stein, who transforms into the new Darkhawk. The attacker was later revealed to be Death Locket (who was in turn controlled by Apex). When Death Locket stumbled into an underground facility, she comes across a room where Christopher Powell's body is alongside the others who have died in battle. A few days later, when Death Locket and Apex raid the place, it is revealed Darkhawk is alive and Death Locket releases him. He then attacks and knocks out Arcade. Arcade soon talks Apex into letting the war play out, and she controls Death Locket into shooting Darkhawk in the shoulder. Once the series ended, Darkhawk was taken away to parts unknown, injured but reunited with his amulet.
The Darkhawk body has enhanced physical abilities, including strength, agility and reflexes, powered by the extraterrestrial amulet he wears. The retractable glider wings under his arms allow him to glide on air currents, and he can also fly at speeds that let him fly from New York to California in only a matter of hours. Even major injuries to his Darkhawk body can be repaired by switching back to his human form; his Darkhawk body teleports back to its holding space on the Darkhawk ship in Null Space, where it can be repaired almost instantly. As the Darkhawk body is no longer separate from Chris and does not teleport to Null Space when not in use, it is questionable whether it can be repaired as quickly as it once was.
Darkhawk can project energy from the amulet in his chest as a focal point, either as concussive force blasts, or as a circular energy shield; (Chris referred to his force blasts as "darkforce blasts," until he encountered the actual Darkforce Dimension in New Warriors). Darkhawk also has telescopic and infra-red vision, and a grappling hook claw-cable on his right arm shaped like a claw.
In his human form, Chris Powell has no superhuman abilities, though he has taken some karate and kendo classes.
For a time, Darkhawk was upgraded to a new body design, which gave him greatly enhanced powers. His amulet could project force bubbles in various shapes and he could combine his force fields and force blasts into a giant, hawk-shaped construct around his body. He could fire heat beams from his eyes, be healed by generating an energy pod around his body, and had a single extendable claw on each wrist. He could also mentally communicate with the Darkhawk ship, and could teleport weapons from the ship when he was on Earth. At one point, he was outfitted with additional body armor on top of his android body.
In this body, he was separated from Chris Powell, and also retained Chris' memories. The two were later merged into one being in the final issue of the Darkhawk series, so that Chris could turn into Darkhawk on command. The Darkhawk android body no longer existed and the two separate entities became one.
At some point after the cancellation of his own series, Darkhawk reverted to his original form under unrevealed circumstances, although he can still summon his second armored form.
His appearance in War of Kings is somewhat more reminiscent of his second costume, and he demonstrates a heretofore unrealized ability to reconfigure the armor into a multitude of forms with abilities that can cope with the current situation.
Darkhawk appears as a member of Wolfpack.
In the mini-series U.S. War Machine, set in an alternate universe, Darkhawk was a psychopathic android, which could only be controlled by running a virtual reality program. The program, a "fiction" within that universe, played out the events where Darkhawk had been a member of the West Coast Avengers within normal Marvel continuity. The program itself also appeared in the final pages of US War Machine 2.0 in which Tony Stark's damaged body is placed inside the Darkhawk program in order to keep him alive.
In Marvel Zombies Dead Days, Darkhawk is seen in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier as one of the dozens of heroes who survive the initial outbreak zombie plague. They all work to evacuate civilians to another dimension but this plan falls apart.
Darkhawk features in an arc of Robert Kirkman's Marvel Team-Up (vol. 3), featuring a group of C-list heroes dubbed "The League of Losers". A group of heroes including Darkhawk, Dagger, Araña, Gravity, X-23, Speedball, Sleepwalker and Terror (although Araña dies along the way) go to the future to prevent the villain Chronok from stealing Reed Richards' time machine, Chronok having come to the present and already having killed all of Marvel's major heroes.
It's revealed that Chronok is from the same time period as Kirkman's Mutant 2099; the group stays with him and his mentor Reed Richards to wait for Chronok. The team defeats Chronok, but at the end of the story, Richards reveals they can't go back to their present, due to time-travel and alternate timelines. The group decides to stay in the future, satisfied with the impact they made, however unnoticed. Mutant 2099 suggests reforming the Avengers or the "Fantastic Nine". Effectively trapped in the future, Chris begins a romantic relationship with Dagger. This team makes a cameo in Deadpool/GLI Summer Fun Spectacular (2007) at the end of the issue.
Note that due to the Marvel Universe's method for resolving time travel paradoxes, this story occurred in an alternate universe.
Over the course of this adventure, Chris acts as the core of the "League", serving as their leader and training the mostly novice heroes for their encounter with Chronok. Reed Richards remarks that while he had never thought of Darkhawk as leader material in the past, he is impressed by Chris' efforts.
During the various battles with Chronok and his army, Chris did not appear prone to irrational violence or uncontrollable anger while in his Darkhawk form, as he had during Excelsior's encounter with the Runaways.
Darkhawk made two brief cameos in the Fantastic Four cartoon. In the episode, "To Battle the Living Planet" he is seen with other New Warriors helping civilians. In "Doomsday" he is shown flying with Justice.
In the Ultimate Spider-Man video game, Spider-Man can be heard mocking the Human Torch during one of their races, stating, "Darkhawk is faster than you!". Despite the reference to Darkhawk in the game, the character himself never appeared in any of the Ultimate Marvel comics line.