Heroes Reborn Week Five Tie-In Issues Offer A Better Understanding Of Nighthawk
Every so often, there is just too much going on in one week to put it all into one piece. So, while the main Heroes Reborn Week Five article focuses on the main series, here, we’re focusing on the two tie-in issues. One thing is definitely certain about both American Knights and Marvel Double Action: They are the most unique of any tie-in issue yet. One of them might even be one of my favorite Batman – I mean Nighthawk – ever. But they’re both excellent comics.
Heroes Reborn Week Five: American Knights
Okay, at what point will DC decide to sue Marvel for copyright infringement, because…wow. (Image: Heroes Reborn: American Knights #1, Marvel Comics)
A Pale Reflection
Writer: Paul Grist
Artist: Chris Allen
Colorists: Chris Allen, Marc Deering, and Guru-eFX
So, if Night-Gwen is our Nightwing, and Goblin is our Joker, who takes the role of Commissioner Gordon? It’s the best choice. Luke “Sweet Christmas” Cage. Though he no longer has bulletproof skin, he still has a similar origin. Once falsely charged for a crime, he decided he wanted to fix the system from the inside. And, just like Gordon, he makes a lot of enemies in the DCPD. Also, like his DC counterpart, he works closely with Nighthawk – to the dismay of many crooked cops. Though this event has been pretty interesting so far, and a lot of fun, this Heroes Reborn week five tie-in is the best chapter of this world yet. In fact, if it were Batman and Gordon, it would be one of the best Batman one-shots ever written.
Heroes Reborn Week Five Tie-In American Knights Push the Religious Envelope Even More
Can you imagine a priest marrying you to your main squeeze under the shadow of that altar? (Image: Heroes Reborn: American Knights #1, Marvel Comics).
One of the most devoted characters to their faith in Marvel Comics is Matt Murdock. But, in a world where Mephisto took the place of God and Christ, what happens to a good Catholic? He becomes a cleric for the church of Mephisto. No longer blind, no longer a lawyer, Murdock has fully devoted himself to Mephisto. The Daredevil now worships the actual devil. But it doesn’t end there. In the comics, Matt uses his position in the courtroom to deliver justice as Daredevil, outside of the law. Cleric Murdock uses the confessional booth. When criminals tell him about the horrendous crimes they’ve committed, Murdock takes them down as “the Saint.” Actually, he wanted to go by “the Serpent” because Mephisto “took the form of this lowly creature when he wanted to experience life in his creation.” But, like Superman, it looks like an ‘S.”
Oh, one other difference? Cleric Murdock kills people. So, the follower of Christ became the follower of Mephisto. It makes sense since Mephisto replaced the Christian deities. But hold on just a moment. In Heroes Reborn #5, Luke says his famous catchphrase, “Sweet Christmas.”
Christmas? CHRISTMAS? In the words of Luke himself:
(Image: Secret Invasion #1, Marvel Comics)
What Becomes of Christ In a World Created by Mephisto (or: Marvel Wants to Piss People Off More Than They Did With Secret Empire)
While Heroes Reborn week four revealed that Mephisto replaced God, we didn’t dive into what happened to the religion he usurped. Well, Christianity does exist in this world, and what we find out in this Heroes Reborn week five tie-in might ruffle some conservative readers. If Mephistianity (?) is the dominant religion in America, then what is Christianity? A cult. A dangerous cult.
How to make sure your comic ends up in a college classroom: a controversial societal commentary. (Image: Heroes Reborn: American Knights #1, Marvel Comics).
Jason Aaron, the writer and creator of this event, turned Christianity into a Satanic cult and Satanism itself into Christianity. Marvel and DC have been mixing political and societal commentary in their comics since two Jewish creators decided to retell the story of Moses with Kryptonians and Kansans. In fact, the more they push the boundaries, the better the stories are. Sometimes, these commentaries are subtle. Other times, they aren’t. This is one of those times.
Phil Coulson is a law and order president who at least claims to be religious. Does what he practice reflect whatever bible the Church of Mephisto preaches? We can’t be sure, but since this is Mephisto’s world, and he had resurrected Coulson for his advantage and made him President…yeah, we can assume the doctrine follows the policies. And when a conservative character’s policies follow the doctrine of a demonic character? Yeah, not too subtle, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Sometimes the “in your face” messaging works when it boldly challenges societal issues. Some will find all of this eye-rolling, some will find it offensive, and some just won’t care. But it’s a damn risky move, and you should at least respect that.
Heroes Reborn Week Five Tie-In American Knights Turns from Religious Commentary to Noir Tragedy
Philosophical conundrums that make people question their God Mephisto are so much fun! (Image: Heroes Reborn: American Knights #1, Marvel Comics).
When Misty Knight and Jessica Jones narrow in on Murdock, things get out of control. Police surround his cathedral, waiting to kill him. Both Luke Cage and Nighthawk try to get there as fast as possible, and Luke makes it there first. One corrupt officer wants to use the situation to kill Cage – and that opportunity presents itself when Murdock surrenders, and Luke helps him out of the church (he kind of beat him up a bit). Cage gave the order not to fire – but the captain with the barricade? He tells his men to do it anyway.
All they end up doing is killing the Saint. Luke was wearing a new body armor that Nighthawk made for him (and also to see if it worked). It’s a grim ending. But in a world where 70% of Americans (um, about the same number of Christians in America) worship Mephisto, what else should we expect?
Heroes Reborn Week Five: Marvel Double Action
This has nothing to do with the plot. Just that the idea of President Nick Fury is awesome. (Image: Heroes Reborn: Marvel Double Action #1, Marvel Comics)
The Death of The Dynamic Double
Scripter: Tim Seely
Penciler: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
For readers coming into Heroes Reborn who are newer to comics, this issue will be really weird. It’s told in the old 60/70s style, where the narration was like someone explaining what was happening in the story as it happened. Thought bubbles, too—so many thought bubbles. The Death of the Dynamic Double – seriously – is a reimagining of the classic Spider-Man #121-122, The Night Gwen Stacy Died. But in this, it’s Nighthawk fighting the Goblin and Falcon plummeting towards his death. It’s an impressive throwback. Tim Seely nails the writing style perfectly, and they brought in Dan Jurgens, one of the most celebrated artists and writers, to pencil it. The result is something that feels like it’s fifty years old. But how do they make it different than the original? Besides changing characters, that is.
There’s actually a lot of changes, as you can imagine. Kyle Richmond is DC’s representative, and he and Sam are a bit older than Peter and Gwen were for their tragedy. But the beats are all the same. The anger and devastation are the same. But the leadup and the fallout are much different.
Do We Finally Learn What Sets Off the Squadron Civil War in This Heroes Reborn Week Five Tie-In?
It doesn’t get more exciting than a political speech in a comic book. (Image: Heroes Reborn: Marvel Double Action #1, Marvel Comics)
One difference? A new plotline! At the beginning of the issue, Representative Kyle presents a new bill on the House floor, as seen above. Nighthawk basically makes it that superheroes can’t kill their enemies. As we’ve seen in tie-ins like Magneto and the Mutant Force, along with Doctor Spectrum in Heroes Reborn #4, Hyperion and Power Princess don’t just see the need to kill; they enjoy it. This is also the moral code we discussed earlier. And remembering his own words stops Nighthawk from killing the Goblin.
Here we get one big difference. In Amazing Spider-Man, when Green Goblin remotely controls his glider to impale Spider-Man from the back, Spidey dodges it and lets it impale Osborne instead. Here, in a badass moment, Nighthawk catches the glider, rips a chunk of it off, and nearly slits Goblin’s throat. But he stops himself and hands Osborne over to Commissioner Cage. However, though this establishes his principles, Seely makes it clear that Nighthawk is just going to get darker.
The Major Difference Comes Down to Hope Vs Despair
On the last page of The Night Gwen Stacy died, Peter ridicules Mary Jane, who up until then, Lee and Ditko presented as a shallow party girl. She tries to console him when she sees him, and he lashes out, saying, “you wouldn’t even cry if your own mother died.” Yeash. Peter goes to sulk in a chair as MJ is about to storm out angrily, but then this happens:
(Image: Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #122, Marvel Comics)
It’s one of the most important moments for MJ and Peter. Peter’s hit with the fact that his loved ones really can die because of his actions. For MJ, it’s the moment she turns into a compassionate and caring friend. But for both of them, it’s the turning point from being kind of friends to eventually being a married couple. There’s a lot of hope in that final panel and Ditko and Lee’s most impressive collaboration.
For Nighthawk, it ends with him alone, slumped in a chair in the Nightcave while the nation mourns the loss of his friend:
. (Image: Heroes Reborn: Marvel Double Action #1, Marvel Comics)
It’s a tragic enough ending that you almost forget that Nighthawk worships – and was created by – Mephisto.
(Featured Image: Heroes Reborn: American Knights 31, Marvel Comics)
Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.