Heroes Reborn puts the Squadron Supreme of America on top of the Marvel Universe and Nighthawk makes sure DC Comics and Batman know it.
Nighthawk takes aim at Batman as Marvel’s upcoming Heroes Reborn event prepares to present a reality where the Avengers never existed. The Squadron Supreme of America member signals he intends to be more than just a member of Marvel’s Justice League.
Heroes Reborn promises a vast alteration to the Marvel Universe fans are familiar with. In a reality where Tony Stark, Steve Rogers and Thor Odinson never achieve their potential and form the Avengers, the Squadron Supreme of America serves as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Conceptually the team’s lineup mirrors DC’s Justice League. The Batman archetype is represented by Nighthawk, aka Kyle Richmond, a “hero” inspired by the death of his parents to train himself to fight and design weapons. The Squadron are actually simulacrums created by Mephisto, and the team is led by Phil Coulson, who was revived by the demon. In this new world the Squadron will be the center of the Marvel Universe and even replace heroes in their most iconic moments and stories.
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Marvel is using Nighthawk to facilitate an eye-catching call out to DC’s Batman. A variant cover by Carlos Pacheco for Miles Morales: Spider-Man #25 features Nighthawk defiantly posed in a tree with a hawk viciously feasting on a bat. The symbolism of a hawk eating a bat is hard to miss here. And fans with attention to detail will notice Nighthawk is at Ravencroft, the institute for insane criminals that is reminiscent of Gotham’s Arkham Asylum. Whatever Heroes Reborn holds for Nighthawk remains to be seen, but the message of the cover is clear. In a world where the Squadron Supreme rules, Nighthawk will be more brutal, bloody and effective than even Batman would be.
Nighthawk offers an interesting way to make commentary on Batman. DC’s current continuity has featured a Batman in flux and rebooting his war on crime after some deep failures. Even as DC redefines who Batman is, Marvel has a chance to join in the commentary with their caricature and they’re taking it seriously. They’ve already established him as an equal to Black Panther, but in Heroes Reborn there is no Black Panther to stand in his way. There is no equal.
Pacheco’s cover certainly doesn’t suggest Batman and Nighthawk are equal. If anyone in Mephisto’s Squadron Supreme is set up to overachieve, it’s Nighthawk. The previous version of the character grew beyond his sinister origins, and due to his programming, the latest Kyle Richmond is already suspicious of his team’s nature. The cover art’s shot at Batman is clear, but he’s safe over at DC. Marvel’s characters must contend with their Heroes Reborn reshaped reality and Nighthawk’s place in it.
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