Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Discount Bin Finds -- Darkhawk Annual #2
Picked this one up for a buck one day while killing time at Borderlands. I was suitably impressed by the fact that whomever had bought it originally, and anyone who may have had it between that point and it's eventual deposit in the discount bin, never actually opened up the polybag. Because lord knows Darkhawk Annual #2 was going to be one of those in-demand sealed bag books. In any event, this oversized Annual features, like all of the Marvel offerings of this type from 1993, the debut of a new character -- in this case the villain Dreamkiller -- who is enshrined on a trading card. And I am willing to bet that this is the only Dreamkiller trading card in existance.
In the main feature, entitled simply "Dreamkiller!" teenager Danny Powell (secretly our hero, of course!) is living with his mother and two brothers in a run down Queens boarding house after their house had been destroyed in a fire. He is disturbed from his slumber and summoned to Westchester county by the daughter of one of Darkhawk's adversaries, who claims to be the victim of an extortion scheme to return one of her father's mystical "Objects of Power." Turns out the Object is now in the possession of one Alex Tennyson, who uses it to summon his subconcious to the corporeal plane in the form of the hulking monster known as Dreamkiller, who, appropriately, seeks to destroy the hopes and dreams of his enemies. Darkhawk clashes with the hugely powerful Dreamkiller, and promptly gets tossed from pillar to post. A little quick thinking on Danny's part, though, and Dreamkiller has to beat a hasty retreat. Danny's not in the best of shape, but I guess it's not easy being a hero as a teenager, huh?
The three backup stories are all shorter, but still somewhat interesting. The first, "Force of Evil," has Ocsh, the sentient Darkhawk ship, fighting off an assualt from the evil Darkhawk, foreshadowing the villain's eventual return. Next is "Taking a Stand," where Danny gets his two brothers tickets to a Mets game, where he is working as a vendor, and things turn ugly. Finally, in "Savage Is The Night!" we see the creation of the new Savage Steel, who intends to use the Stane Industries-product armor for good instead of turning into a bloodthirsty killer like the previous owners.
Darkhawk was a title I picked up occassionally when I was a kid. The character's looks and personality appealed to me as a "tween" and young teenager, and his adventures were usually pretty fast and fun. So it's not too surprising to me that I liked this Annual well enough. It's not great by any sense of the word, but it has four stories which would have no doubt been welcome to a Darkhawk fan in 1993. The main feature is pretty strong, even if it is mainly just an extended normal issue. Dreamkiller, despite being a product of a gimmicky "event," is actually a pretty decent setup for a bad guy. It's too bad he got used exactly once more (ironically, in Darkhawk Annual #3). His looks is pure 90s goofiness, but I think you could work with it. It wouldn't even be that hard to change it around, really. The second and fourth stories are of the "sneak-peek" variety, giving readers a little glimpse of stories that will come forth later, and to that end they both do a good job. The idea of Ocsh having to store the Evilhawk android on board and yet be constantly vigil of it is pretty cool. The third feature is a nice piece of characterization of the Brothers Powell, which is pretty welcome in between all the action but ultimately meaningless out of the context of the series.
All of the stories are penned by Darkhawk creator and regular scribe Danny Fingeroth, so the tone and characters remain consistant throughout. The art, handled respectively by Aaron Lopresti (!!), Don Cameron, Larry Alexander, and Scott Kolins (!!), is a mixed bag of early-90s Marvel house style... but at least there is nothing too outlandish or bizarre to complain about! Actually, in all fairness, the art is not bad, but a lot of modern readers won't be able to relate to it, I don't think.
In any event, for the dollar I paid for this, I was certainly satisfied with the quality of the stories and the art. And, to be honest, if I had paid $2.95 for this back in that summer of '93, I'd have probably been pretty darn happy with it then as well. And no doubt, my Dreamkiller card would be in a hard plastic card case, and I'd be lamenting his lack of further appearances. Kinda like I am doing now.