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WRITING COMICS: NIGHTHAWK, Part 1

NIGHTHAWK was my first series for Marvel, even though it did not come out first. As I was developing NIGHTHAWK, I also got the job writing POWER MAN & IRON FIST, which was given top priority. As a result, NIGHTHAWK went on the back-burner for a while, and came out after POWER MAN & IRON FIST.

Marvel wanted NIGHTHAWK to be “dark and gritty,” and there were a lot of comparisons to BATMAN. The character of Nighthawk – a member of Squadron Supreme – had always been Marvel’s answer to Batman, and it became increasingly clear that some people really wanted this to be little more than a Batman rip-off. Both Squadron Supreme and Nighthawk got a major overhaul in 2003 with SUPREME POWER. In this version, Nighthawk was recast as an angry black man, and the similarities to Batman became more evident. I liked the series at the time, and the solo Nighthawk mini-series was good…though I felt both leaned in a bit too much on the fuck-you-whitey angry black man. Still, it was a character I really wanted to play around with.

The NIGHTHAWK series that I pitched, and spent quite a bit of time developing was not the series that would eventually be published by Marvel in 2016. Ultimately, the series would undergo a ton of changes. Everything from the main story to the villain all changed from what had been originally pitched, making NIGHTHAWK the most creatively challenging and difficult of the projects I wrote for Marvel. I will detail some of the original ideas and changes in a later post, but for now I’ll say that overall I’m happy with how it all turned out (though I’m not convinced the final version is better than what I had originally intended).

Initially, the series was supposed to be twelve issues, but it ended up only running for six. I got the call that the series was cancelled the week the first issue came out (the first issue came out on a Wednesday, and the series was cancelled on the Monday before it debuted). At the time, I had four issues of NIGHTHAWK written, and was working on the fifth. Knowing the book was ending with issue #6, I was able to go back and rewrite #4, and then rework what had been planned for #5 and #6, giving the series a more complete ending (while having to dump a ton of story).

One of the most interesting things about NIGHTHAWK is that it was a commercial failure, and yet of all the Marvel books I’ve written, it is the series I hear about most from fans. It has garnered a cult following (for which I am truly thankful), despite the fact it was cancelled before the first issue was on the stands.

Stay tuned for more posts on NIGHTHAWK.

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