Well, took twenty years to get to, but it got getting to, and wow–just wow. The long wait seemed worth it when the very opening sequence focuses on 7 alien crystals. In my head I didn’t believe they COULD have been the very same types of crystals Darkhawk encountered with Portal during the Mahari alien fiasco with Evilhawk, etc. etc. during the last 4 issue series-closer for Darkhawk’s ongoing… but yes, yes, these are the very same crystals! Written by Danny Fingeroth, this mini-series set out to engrain another Darkhawk-linked continuity in to the undercurrent of Marvel C-lister resources. I think the undercurrent development attempt by Fingeroth this time around might have been closer to the sewage level.
This 4-part miniseries. with a release date of January 1995. places the crystal scene at par with Darkhawk #47 when the whole series finale was just revving up. That’s the first awkward continuity blip that I can’t imagine having experienced in real time, month to month. The Spider-Man issues would have come back to back with Darkhawk’s final 4 issues as well. The Spider-Man series clearly has to come AFTER the Mahari/Evilhawk events in Queens–and even so, man oh man, Queens, New York residents must just take all these superheroey event stuff in stride, like a rain day when the weather channel promised sun. No amount of continuity molding can clean this strangeness up, so what Darkhawk fans are left with is a mini-series, directly tied to Darkhawk’s idiocy for leaving the crystals in a park, on the surface of grass, and “not having had time to come back to them due to the Mahari events”. That’s the first narrative misstep of many to follow. This truley felt like a miniseries meant FOR DARKHAWK’s SERIES had it not been cancelled. This would have been “Darkhawk, guest-starring Spider-Man, Nova and Speedball” and it would have been paced better and not framed in such stilted, unbelievable, and non-surprising writing and plot development.
Ultimately, I’m not sure Danny Fingeroth is totally to blame. I feel at this time with Marvel, everything was getting flushed down the can due to many reasons, all of which eventually led to Marvel on the verge of bankruptcy. I can see why this series is buried in memory and left to erode in the acid baths of Marvel mid-90s character continuity. With Tom DeFalco, Darkhawk’s main creator, now out of the Editor-in-Chief seat due to executive complications by part 3 of this mini, it just lines up for bad things to come. I just searched Comicvine.com to see if this series had summaries there, and you know what? Not only does it have summaries, they are pretty much in line with what I could share and I don’t even want to spend my time adding more words to such an experience. Read he summaries for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
I will mini-rant just to let out some tension though: The young crystal-powered teens are controlled by the eldest of the 7, a conman, who names the youngsters “The Metahumes”… terrible name that the conman thinks is “genius”. Here’s what I think: Fingeroth and team knew it was crap and were calling attention to how crappy it was. This was in line with the reveal of the Metahumes in costume… outrageously mid-90s costume crap-fest, and the lead villain, once again, draws attention to the fact they are crap. (Alright, not in those words, but the point was taken: That point told me Fingeroth was aware of the crap). Spider-Man releases frustration–repeatedly–on Speedball with fists and kicks to face–Good thing Speedy has that kinetic forcefield up permanently huh!? Wowza… = stupid. Darkhawk acts like he’s to blame, and needs to be responsible about fixing the problem–convenient timing to be RESPONSIBLE ABOUT ALIEN CRYSTALS OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN DARKHAWK!… just saying. Man oh man, memories even hurt. Just read the Comicvine reviews, they are very detailed about plot–and lack thereof–with an equal portion of commentary.
I want to point out only a few COOL things, and I’m digging for “good things” here folks! The first was that I liked the idea of these 4 particular characters coming together for a team-up. Here we have different decade attempts at creating the “next Spider-Man” and it goes a step further in the story when Speedball makes a direct comment on the fact, (this is in 1995 by the way) that the three young heroes at one point where even called “The Next Spider-Mans”. That was amusing on a meta level. Second, I like that they showed Darkhawk using a stealth mode and using enhanced vision; this supported the new additional powers of the 2.0 suit and I actually felt, if anything, this series has done the most to support his new direction in cosmic stuff than anything previous, which tended to keep Darkhawk’s suit very grounded at the early street level stuff.
I 100% do not recommend this series. Just be grateful you missed it and move on. The only thing that disappoints me more then the terrible story-telling and plot, is that this is side-by-side with the sped up, quickly resolved, action-confused-crammed Darkhawk finale. It’s like a double-header of terrible executions followed by a curtain call. Again, I truly don’t think creative teams are at fault here (not 100%), I think executive mandates and changes just escalated to a catastrophe and these are examples of that mess.
After these issues, I really can’t wait to re-read Brian K Vaughan’s Runaways and Robert Kirkman’s Marvel Team-Up featuring the League of Losers. Just be thankful, ALL OF YOU, that there is still a Darkhawk out there, in another timeline that is a version of the non-cosmic-centric Darkhawk, which is still at the street-level that many of us still love. Somewhere, in Marvel’s alternate universes, he leads a team who are that world’s last remaining heroes… and that’ll heal the wounds left from Spider-Man: Friends & Enemies.
I’ve updated the Issue Continuity page, the Creative Teams page, and the Comprehensive Timeline (Year Two, Spring) page accordingly. [And fixed a bunch of glaring errors in this blog post that I didn't bother fixing with a 2nd read-over. I was too ready to put this behind me , sorry about the previous mess. The rant style post here might not be that much better still, but I'm not even reading it again. Hopefully it gets some ideas and points across enough for though who survive the long read anyways!]