Superhero comics haven’t always had the best track record when it comes to tackling serious issues. It’s usually well intentioned, but you only have to look at that time Lois Lane was turned into a black woman, or when The Punisher was turned into a black guy to see how they haven’t always succeeded. Or how about when Bruce Banner was assaulted in a YMCA shower, or when the Green Arrow’s sidekick became a heroin addict so that DC could “attack youth’s greatest problem…drugs!”. They’ve not always had their finger exactly on the pulse.
Marvel’s new Nighthawk series, which debuted last week, is the opposite of those, and you need to be reading it. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Nighthawk. He’s basically Marvel’s thinly veiled take on Batman, with two major differences: he’s African-American; and he’s a lot more violent than Bruce Wayne. He does also have a complicated alternate world origin story as well, but you can ignore that. All you need to know that businessman Raymond Kane spends his nights as a hi-tech costumed vigilante taking out criminals in Chicago, with his sidekick Tilda Johnson acting as a female Alfred the Butler. This first issue is mostly just set-up, introducing an evil property magnate and a serial killer antagonist, but if it stays at this level it’ll be one of the most important comics of the year.