- There’s a dozen comics characters named Nighthawk.
- Most of them are Marvel characters who are stand-ins for DC Comics’ Batman.
- Many of these Batman analogues operate with a team called the Squadron Supreme. Most Squadron members also are DC Comics characters analogues.
- Most of these exist in alternate realities. They’re not on Earth-616, the “main” Marvel Universe.
So far, so good ?
- From 2003 to 2011, there were stories about a new version of the Squadron Supreme. It’s often called the “Supreme Power” version. Or the Earth-31916 version. Or the “J.M. Straczynski Squadron Supreme”, after the writer.
- This new version of the Squadron also had its new version of Nighthawk.
- This Nighthawk went through three main writers (Straczynski, Robinson, Walker). This here profile covers *only* David Walker ’s specific take on the character.
- In practice, this means the material in the 2016 Nighthawk LS, plus appearances in the 2017 Occupy Avengers LS.
- Real Name: Kyle Richmond.
- Other Aliases: On Earth-616, Richmond goes by “Raymond Kane”.
- Known Relatives: Titus Richmond (father, deceased), Rosalie Richmond (mother, deceased).
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base of Operations: Chicago.
- Height: 5’11” (1.80m). Weight: 210 lbs. (95 Kg.).
- Eyes: Light brown. Hair: Black.
Powers & Abilities
With the advantage of surprise he can handle up to a dozen opponents on his own, even if some are armed.
Kane also possesses extreme levels of endurance and willpower. As well as high deductive intelligence and superior physical strength.
He’s trained in :
- Vehicles operation.
- First aid.
- Weapons operation.
- Computer hacking.
- And other fields.
Kane retains control over at least part of the Oracle Inc. assets. This makes him rich, and provides access to extensive technological resources.
His arsenal includes :
- Throwing blades. These look like palm-sized broadhead arrow heads, capable of slicing and impaling. He often throws these in volleys. The blades can also be used as punch daggers.
- Soft body armour, preventing blades and bullets from penetrating.
- Distinctive night vision goggles, which also have built-in cameras and a holographic HUD.
- An encrypted radio uplink.
- A clawed gauntlet. It can be worn over his glove to cling to some objects (such as vehicles) by clawing in finger holds.
- A hand-held piton launcher with a reel of cable that can be mounted on the back of one of his gloves. The piton can also be remotely flicked open to form a grapnel instead.
This is mostly a climbing aid, as Nighthawk doesn’t do Daredevil-like swingline acrobatics.
It can double as a weapon, capable of impaling a man.
- A high-performance motorbike with a flight mode. The flight mode evokes S.H.I.E.L.D.’s flying cars, and may be the same tech.
- After the bike was destroyed, Nighthawk’s backup vehicle was a Green Goblin-style one-person “glider”. It was thicker, heavier than those used by, say, Menace (Lily Hollister). Or even the movie version of the Green Goblin.
- A utility belt with small gadgets, more or less commercially available. One example was a tiny, disposable acetylene torch used to cut through handcuffs. Another was a miniature digital camera.
He also had an ordinary car, not used as Nighthawk. This seemed to be a black Dodge Charger, presumably as a Blade movie reference.
A quantum of solanaceæ
During this era, Nighthawk closely cooperates with Deadly Nightshade (Tilda Johnson). She operates from his headquarters, using drones and Nighthawk’s uplink.
Her assets include :
- Owl-shaped drones. These have low-light and thermal cams, silent flight, shotgun mikes, radio scramblers, and a powerful self-destruction charge (enough to blow up a medium-sized warehouse). They also have been used to fly into people by surprise, knocking them back.
- Video feed from Nighthawk’s goggles.
- Medical sensors within the Nighthawk suit.
- Extensive databases. These include policing/criminology data and corporate/financial data.
- Full access to police and emergency radio channels.
To her growing frustration, Tilda is primarily an intel person. She uses the owls for surveillance, and does rapid searches to feed Nighthawk’s investigations. Having an owl drone on the scene also allows her to watch Ray’s back.
Ms. Johnson builds most of the hardware. Nighthawk’s tendency to use the owl drones as simple bombs thus exasperates her. And yes, she did make the mandatory Blade Runner joke about cyber-owls.
The story keeps referencing Blind Willie Johnson’s famous gospel blues John the Revelator. So I spent most of the writeup having it as an earworm, in the two versions I’m more familiar with – Son House’s and Taj Mahal’s.
Let’s go with Taj Mahal. The version with the Faith Chorale.
(That is, the events that precede the David Walker take – in compressed form.)
Kyle Richmond’s parents were murdered by White supremacists. He became a killer vigilante.
As Nighthawk, he clashed with a Joker analogue, whom he eventually killed.
He generally kept his distance from the Squadron Supreme, when feasible.
This Earth was destroyed during an Incursion. This is a rare, cyclical type of collision between universes. Somehow, Nighthawk survived.
He joined a team made of heroes from multiple destroyed Earths. Operating on Earth-616The main Marvel Comics version of Earth this new version of the Squadron Supreme would stop at nothing to prevent cosmic destruction.
Things didn’t generally go well. In good part since the members were still traumatised. Nighthawk communicated little with his team-mates, and preferred extreme solutions.
In the end this Squadron did some good, but it was rocky.
Their exploits included killing Namor the Submariner, after which Nighthawk took over Namor’s Oracle Inc. corporation. Before disbanding, the Squadron returned Namor to life.
Nighthawk also changed his name to “Raymond Kane”. Since Earth-616’s Kyle Richmond also was active as a Nighthawk.
Raymond Kane moved to Chicago, IL. A city reputed for its terrible history of racial inequality and the casualty rates among the poor (Homan Square is referenced in the story).
He used his money to control the damage to the residents in the poorest, chiefly Black neighbourhoods.
However, this ran into political issues, corruption issues, and competition with lower-minded real estate investors and gentrifiers.
The dead of night
He also continued to be active as Nighthawk.
In this role he lethally fought perpetrators of violence against Chicago’s minorities, particularly African-Americans. That included police officers with a track record of brutality and killings.
This of course meant hostile relations with the Chicago PD. However, Nighthawk saved one Detective Sherman Burrell from a costumed villain. The two men struck a discreet alliance.
During that time, Nighthawk was thought to be an urban legend, even by most CPD officers.
See the deadly nightshade grow
Nighthawk also allied with Tilda Johnson, formerly known as Deadly Nightshade.
When he met her, she was about to be executed by three gangsters in an alley. Presumably, she had been too badly wounded to fight them off.
Johnson was considering making another attempt at reforming. And Nighthawk was interested in her technical skills. In fact, he seemed to have been tracking her down to make a “work for me or die” offer, which proved unnecessary.
Johnson thus became Kane’s equivalent of Oracle (Barbara Gordon). Unexpectedly, the amoral Tilda turned out to be a moderating influence on Ray’s homicidal rage.
No justice no peace
Within months, many things went bad at once :
- White supremacy terrorists in Chicago began receiving shipments of advanced firearms.
- A cop with a terrible history of brutality was acquitted after murdering a Black lad, despite a high-profile trial. This triggered riots and arsons, similar to the 1991 Los Angeles ones.
- A serial killer called the Revelator was horribly murdering slumlords, corrupt judges and other White persons preying on minorities. Despite Tilda’s badgering, Ray refused to consider how this mad dog resembled himself with the last moral restraints gone.
- Ordinary assault weaponry was being sold off the book and at bargain basement prices to the gangs in Black areas.
As the situation escalated, the militias were sent to attack the rioters, to reel Nighthawk in. The vigilante narrowly escaped arrest. Meanwhile, the National Guard deployed.
Though he found the Revelator, Nighthawk was caught in the maniac’s attack against the police, which killed five officers. The blast destroyed Nighthawk’s bike, and the unconscious vigilante was kidnapped by the Revelator.
Nighthawk escaped and defenestrated his captor. But the Revelator escaped.
Can’t walk the streets…
Though Nighthawk was focusing on stopping the Revelator, it’s the rest that came to a head first.
The White supremacists were working for Hanrahan, a real estate developer who had been competing with Ray Kane’s projects. The guns, terror attacks and some police corruption were tools used to fan the fires. The crisis and riots would make distressed properties much cheaper.
However, a police detective working for Mr. Hanrahan was identified by Detective Burrell. Burrel warned Nighthawk.
… to them we’re fair game
The vigilante came in just in time to save Sherman Burrell and his partner Nina. He killed the corrupt cop in the process.
In the hospital, Nina lied to cover both Nighthawk and her partner. She said that she was the one who had killed the rotten cop to save Detective Burrell.
Meanwhile Nighthawk located Hanrahan, who had been kidnapped and tortured by the Revelator. During the fight, the serial killer fell to his seeming death.
Kane did not save the kidnapped developer, letting him die from his wounds.
In 2017, Hawkeye (Clint Barton) and Red Wolf (Earth-15513 version) came to consult with Tilda Johnson about robots they found near Chicago. This resulted in a brawl, due to bad blood between Nighthawk and Hawkeye.
But the Chicagoan vigilante grudgingly agreed to help. The foursome helped secure a compromised S.H.I.E.L.D. facility that had gone offline during the 1980s.
In the wake of this case, Ms. Johnson joined Barton and Wolf to take a more active role as a… well, maybe not “heroine”, but sort of.
Mere months later, Hydra took over the United States. Raymond Kane, in his civvies, was among a group of protesters who were gunned down in cold blood by the neo-Nazis.
Furious and distraught, Tilda became the new Nighthawk.
The Nighthawk costume now comes with sneakers. I guess it’s one way to blackify an outfit, heh. They resemble some Nike Air Force models (without the copyrighted swoosh), but I’m not any sort of sneakers connoisseur.
The large, round “eyes” on the mask are like an unblinking, unnatural, glowing stare.
Raymond Kane has been running on pure rage since he was a little boy. Injustice infuriates him, which drives him to rash, direct physical action.
If he didn’t have the skills and luck of a comic book character, he’d have been killed decades ago. Or in prison for life.
Nighthawk is particularly angry about the discrimination, abuse, murder, institutional racism, inequalities, bias, etc. heaped upon minorities. With a specific focus on African-Americans, though he also works on taking down those harming other kinds of racialized people.
He’s also a trauma survivor. Mr. Kane is haunted by memories of his parents. In particular, he has flashbacks to his mother teaching him not to give in to his rage.
In a way, he always loses. He cannot ignore injustice, and dealing with it will increase his rage. But as he starts going too far the flashbacks start. These are physically and emotionally painful, and can induce somatic reactions such as vomiting.
I shall become… a hawk
Nighthawk is a killer vigilante. If somebody is causing significant harm to the communities he protects, they’re dead.
However, Mr. Kane obviously takes no pleasure in it. He will often leave his opponents alive, *then* blow up the place to kill them.
He will also leave cops alive, unless they’re proven corrupt. This seems to be mostly done to avoid massive police reaction, which would also harm those Nighthawk is trying to protect.
He fights with crippling blows and blades, but doesn’t like manifestly lethal weapons such as guns. Still, he’ll pick up and use a firearm in a pinch, usually to save lives.
Kane refuses to use torture, or to maim people he doesn’t intent to kill shortly after. He also will not harm bystanders. But one ceases being a bystander by actively working with his targets.
Nobody loves Raymond (part 1)
As the run starts, Ray barely speaks, barely sleeps. He is fanatically working and strives for the greatest possible efficiency.
He’s more loquacious when working as a millionaire philanthropist. But even then he doesn’t talk much and clearly has an axe to grind.
His main character arc over the series is his relationship with Tilda. They can’t quite be called friends, and there’s zero romantic and/or sexual aspect to it. But they share an assessment of the problems besetting Black Americans, and they work together well.
Nobody loves Raymond (part 2)
They’re friendly colleagues, and she’s the only person he can talk with. So the originally monosyllabic Mr. Kane starts talking a whole lot more, which seems to help.
But he’s of course staying mission-focused. They only talk about the job – there’s still more distance than with, say, most police partners.
And of course Kane’s the boss, though Johnson doesn’t really do hierarchies.
That Nightshade is amoral also helps, oddly. Rejecting her more criminally-minded suggestions reminds Nighthawk that *he* isn’t truly out of control.
Tell me who’s that writing
Nighthawk is tense about the politics of what he does – this is in part why he’s a workaholic. He’s fighting against an entire unequal, racist, prejudiced system, and there’s no good solution for that.
Political action remains the least bad, but it takes at best decades – especially for massively disenfranchised minorities. And in the meantime, millions suffer and die.
Comic book killer vigilante action provides short-term help. But it involves obvious, severe ethical compromising due to this whole murder thing. And, like many wars, it’s not something you can win on body count. Nighthawk is in part in denial about that, to help diminish this tension.
Tilda considers that the massive suffering, death and injustice from a racist society justify any level of violence. But then, she’s a supposedly-reformed villainess lacking inhibitions about murder.
Ray disagrees and keeps himself in check, but the tightrope he’d like to walk on just doesn’t exist. It can only be about least bad decisions that cost human lives.
Come on / Baby, don’t you wanna go home
Nighthawk is particularly territorial. He considers Chicago to be his city, and takes an aggressively dim view of other heroes operating there.
This may be tied to having already lost Chicago once, when his Earth was destroyed.
He also much prefers working alone, and dislikes it when somebody physically helps him.
Tilda: “Not everyone can be like you, boss… driven to the point of unhealthy obsession. Let’s see… there’s Frank Castle. And then there’s… well… you. And from what I’ve heard, the Punisher likes to take catnaps.”
Ray: “No time for sleep.”
“A slumlord. He fits the pattern of the others… he’s been preying on minorities for decades. He’s a killer whose weapons of choice are faulty wiring, broken furnaces and lead paint.”
“You wanted to know why a billionaire real estate developer would smuggle arms into the city, Tilda ? It’s because you can control the value of real estate by controlling crime.”
“I’m watching you. All of you. On both sides of the law. Make sure you tell your companions on the force. This is how I deal with police brutality in my city.”
(Beating up Black gangbangers to disarm them as they were shooting each other) “You’re killing each other over land you don’t own. You’re dying in someone else’s war. They want you to kill each other. Stop doing it. Stop giving them their victory with your blood.”
Hawkeye (merrily raising his hand): “Yes ! I love a good team-up. High-five !”
Nighthawk (flatly and without moving): “I don’t like you.”
DC Heroes RPG
Nighthawk (David Walker take)
|Dex: 08||Str: 04||Bod: 05|
|Int: 07||Wil: 07||Min: 07|
|Inf: 07||Aur: 05||Spi: 06|
|Init: 024||HP: 050|
Acrobatics: 07, Detective (Clue analysis): 06, Martial artist*: 08, Medicine (First aid): 05, Scientist (Computers): 07, Thief (Security, Stealth): 08, Vehicles (Air, Land): 06, Weaponry*: 08
Familiarity (Business management, Police facial compositing software), Headquarters (Expansive — the Nest), Mistrust.
Deadly Nightshade (Low), Detective Burrell (Low).
- COSTUME [BODY 03, Blunting: 04, Eye of the cat: 02, Flame immunity: 02, Illusion: 01, Radio coms (Encrypted): 12, Ultra-vision: 06, Bonus: Eye of the cat uses the Radio Coms’ Range, Limitation: Eyes of the cat only to feed sound, video and medical data to his HQ, Illusion can only project a hologram so Nighthawk can see video and images Tilda is transmitting him].
- Throwing blades [BODY 05, EV 04, Ammo: 06, Dart Bonus]. Nighthawk doesn’t use one as a punch dagger during this era, but stats would be [BODY 05, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Miniaturisation: 01, Descriptor: Piercing].
- Owl drones (x6) [DEX 03 STR 01 BODY 02, Bomb: 13, Extended hearing: 05, Flight: 06, Neutralise (Radio coms): 09, Radio coms (Encrypted): 12, Telescopic vision: 04, Ultra-vision: 06, Thermal vision: 06, Thief (Stealth): 05, Bonus: Neutralise has a 5 APs Area of Effect, Radio coms can transmit the feed from the hearing and vision Powers, Limitation: Bomb is a self-destruct system].
- MOTORBIKE [STR 04 BODY 05, Flight: 07, Running: 07, R#02]. This was destroyed by the Revelator’s bomb.
- CLAWED GAUNTLETS [BODY 06, Cling: 02, Enhance (Acrobatics (Climbing)): 01 (cap is 11), Limitation: Power can only be used on relatively soft surfaces, such as vehicle bodies]. Using a single gauntlet halves the APs of Cling.
- PITON LAUNCHER w/CABLE [STR 03 BODY 03, Claws: 05, Stretching: 02, Limitation: Stretching has No Fine Manipulation]. Cannot be wielded with a hand with a CLAWED GAUNTLET.
- GOBLIN-STYLE GLIDER [STR 04 BODY 05, Cling: 02, Flight: 07, Bonuses & Limitations: Cling only represents attachment of pilot to the glider (-3FC).]
- The stuff in the utility belt seems to be commercial equipment, rather than capital-g Gadgets.
Again, this *doesn’t* strive to take into account material from other writers. You can clearly see the difference with our contributor Peter’s stats for the Straczynski take.
Walker was apparently interested in dampening the “HE’S BATMAN !” portrayal to make Nighthawk a more cinematic-level vigilante.
There isn’t much material (the series was cut from 12 to 6 issues before it even was in stores), but Nighthawk presumably has more Skills at circa 5 or 6 APs. More Detective Subskills, Charisma (Interrogation, Intimidation), Gadgetry and perhaps more Thief Subskills are likely.
He doesn’t yet have Area Knowledge (Earth-616’s Chicago). For instance he needs policing data to identify high-crime areas to compute his patrol route.
Source of Character: Marvel Comics.
Helper(s): Dr. Peter Piispanen’s Nighthawk writeups for a modicum of stats continuity.
Writeup completed on the 26th of November, 2019.