Review: Darkhawk: Airborne

Series: Darkhawk: Airborne
Authors: Kyle Higgins, Dan Abnett, Danny Fingeroth
Artists: Mike Manley, Juanan Ramirez
Pencils: Andrea Di Vito
Inker: Lebeau Underwood
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor, Erick Arciniega, Sebastian Cheng
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Released: March 1, 2022
Received: Own

As a HUGE fan of Darkhawk, I was so unbelievably excited by the news that the series was getting a reboot. Yeah, I’ll be sad to see Chris go, but it happens, right? Plus, I already adore Connor Young. I’ve always felt that Darkhawk was a seriously underrated character, so it’s nice to see him getting some much needed love here.

Darkhawk: Airborne, is brought to you by a large and impressive group of creatives. Kyle Higgins, Dan Abnett, and Danny Fingeroth were all involved in the creation and writing. While artists included: Mike Manley, Juanan Ramirez, Andrea Di Vito, Chris Sotomayor, Erick Arciniega, Sebastian Cheng, and Travis Lanham.

This volume introduces a new version of Darkhawk (in case that wasn’t obvious): the mantle is officially being passed down to Connor Young. Conner Young was just your average teenage boy. Well, with a few exceptions. He’s a basketball star with so many plans waiting for him. But his life is about to get flipped upside down – in more than one way.

Connor’s origin story is full of emotion, pain, and so much more. It’s probably one of the strongest origin stories I’ve seen in recent years, and I personally really hope that we’ll see more of him in the future.

Writing

Wow. So there’s quite a lot to take in here. Darkhawk: Airborne goes beyond being a triumphant return. Kyle Higgins captured some very human elements when introducing this new hero. Conner Young’s story is immediately compelling, but it kicks off in ways I had not anticipated.
Long story short: there’s more going on in Conner’s life than basketball. A lot more. He’s dealing with medical issues, an uncertain future, and a few other surprises. It makes for a shockingly well-rounded character right out the gate.
Additionally, I love that Higgins reached out to those with this condition to write Connor’s story. It certainly added to the realism and impact of the situation while also giving a voice to the community.
I’m just going to say it, I always have and will always love it when heroes make surprise appearances in other series. In this case, having another hero show up helps add some legitimacy to the new Darkhawk and his adventures. At least, that is how I’m seeing it.

While I love everything on the Conner side of the story, I wish there was more going on with the antagonists. I understand they are a threat (clearly), but something feels lacking in their presence. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.

Artwork

The artwork for Darkhawk: Airborne is sublime. The colors, character designs, and lettering are like a perfect storm of artwork. Naturally, what first caught my attention was the cover itself: I love seeing Darkhawk with vibrant purple covers. I’ll never get over that thrill. I also adore all the variant covers available (and will be hunting as many of them down as possible, thank you very much).

I love the new take on Darkhawk designs. Likewise, the sense of motion in this graphic novel is stellar – which is pretty important, given that a.) Conner plays basketball, and b.) the way Darkhawk tends to move. Finally, I respect that bruises and other injuries are lingering on our characters. This is yet another grounding feature.

The colors in this volume perfectly match the story and tone. There are times when the colors are bold and bright, and others are almost respectfully somber. It’s a brilliant balance, though naturally, I’m more drawn to the brighter pages.

VC’s Travis Lanham’s lettering is perfect, as always. It’s easy to underestimate the value of lettering, but it is critical. Especially here.

Conclusion

Overall I would have to say that I was happy with Darkhawk: Airborne. It’s always nerve-wracking seeing a character (mantle) go back to the origin story stage, but I think this newest version is fascinating. I truly hope that we’ll see Connon again sometime, hopefully soon. I certainly feel as if his story is far from over.

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