Underrated Heroes and Villains – Day 17: Shadowhawk

Underrated Heroes and Villains – Day 17: Shadowhawk

If you haven't already, please check out Days 1 – 16 of "Underrated Black Heroes and Villains" previously posted on this website



It’s Day 17 everybody! Time to do another edition of

“Underrated Black Heroes and Villains.”

So far I have done mostly DC and Marvel. Tonight I bring to you another hero from the Image Comics’ universe. Ladies and Gentlemen – wait, are there even any ladies reading this? - it is my pleasure to introduce you to Image Comics’ Shadowhawk.   Shadowhawk, whose real name is

Paul Johnstone, first made his way into the comic book world in


Issue 2, way back in May of 1992.

Paul grow up in the mean streets of



New York

City, where he lived with his mother after his father had passed away. Paul was arrested for petty theft and was headed for a life of crime when he was assigned to a caseworker by the name of Richard Woodroe.  Richard befriended Paul, taking him under his wing, showing him that there was a better way in this hard world. Richard would soon become Paul’s stepfather after marrying Paul’s mother. The marriage would lead to the birth of his younger half-brother Hojo. Paul would take the high road in life, becoming a lawyer and soon thereafter a district attorney. Paul’s younger brother Hojo would follow his brother’s path to success, landing a job on Wall Street. Hojo would develop a crack cocaine addiction; Hojo’s dealers worked for the Mob. The Mob would try to use Hojo’s addiction to leverage Paul into letting their associates go. Paul would refuse, thus making him a target.

The Mob would send some of their leg breaks to assault Paul in his office, sending a message to anybody else that got in their way. During the assault, Paul would be injected with HIV-infected blood, thus Shadowhawk was the first comic book character to have AIDS.  After the attack Paul was uncertain whether or not he had been infected. Word of the attack and possible infection and spread like wildfire around his job.  Paranoia and phobia were rife around the work place because his coworkers worried about cross- contamination from the water fountain. His job would become a hostile work environment.  This would lead to an altercation with a coworker, which would cost him his job and land him in jail. After he was released from prison, he would learn that he was in fact HIV-positive. Depressed, Paul walked the streets to clear his head. While walking Paul would be threatened by a gang. He tried to hold off his attackers, but in the end he was brutally mugged and sent to the hospital.

During this time in the hospital, Paul vowed that he would use whatever time he had left on this earth to fight for justice for those who could not fight for themselves.  Paul would be visited in the hospital by a friend, Christina Reid, an ex-cop who was kicked off the force for brutality. She told Paul that she and a man by the name of


Sun had created an exoskeleton of armor that he could use to take back the night and dispense justice to evildoers.  Christina would help train Paul in hand-to-hand combat, while


would supply equipment and weaponry.  When he put on the suit


had made, Paul would take the name Shadowhawk, after his favorite superhero.

Paul believed that arresting criminals was not enough.  He felt that the court system was like a turnstile where criminals would go in just to come back out.  As a result, Paul was often brutal with his victims.  He would break their spines, forcing them to become prisoners of their own bodies, just as he was.

 He justified these actions to himself by only going after violent criminals. He would attack his prey in a way that the police who discovered them could find no evidence that he had attacked them.  Thus Shadowhawk became an urban legend who was hunted by criminals and law enforcement alike.

Sensing that his time in life was running short, later in his career Paul w

ould spend most of his downtime searching either for a cure for AIDS or a way to prolong his life. This would lead to a battle with the super-powered hero, Supreme. During the battle Shadowhawk’s true identity would be revealed to the world. He would also meet the superhero squad, the WildC.A.T.S., who would later only suggest that Paul transfer his consciousness into a robotic body (In the end, this plan failed.).  He would also team up with another HIV-infected hero-turned-villain, Youngblood’s Chapel.

 He would find his way to Spawn, who would tell him there was nothing he could to save his life that in the end death comes for us all and to accept its sweet embrace like a man. Ultimately, Shadowhawk would only regret never having joined a superhero team, seeing how much fun he could have had and having had someone there to watch your back. In the end, Paul would save his mother who was being attacked by the villainies Hawk’s

Shadow. The battle would prove to be too much for Shadowhawk. He was too weakened to escape to the authorities. He was taken into police custody

and transported to the hospital, where he would fight his final battle – against his disease – and lose.

In the wake of Paul’s death, it was discovered that the helmet in the suit of armor that Shadowhawk wore was a spirit of the Spirit of Justice. The helmet was called the Helmet of Heru. It was a mystical helmet that would grant the wearer bulletproof body armor, as well as enhance their strength, speed, and agility to superhuman levels. The body armor had retractable claws, shuriken like boomerangs, and a grappling hook to get around with. It also possessed a connection to a place known as Nommo, where the current wearer could communicate with past owners of the helmet and take advantage of their skills and knowledge.

 Of course, we would not learn his until Image Comics introduced the next person to wear the mantle of Shadowhawk, but we’re not here to talk about them.

Well, I hope I was able to teach you a little about the great superhero that is Shadowhawk. If you want to read about him yourself, pick up Image Comics’


series. Remember to check back tomorrow for the next episode of

Underrated Black Heroes and Villains. Check out our weekly Geek Brew podcast, which you can now download through iTunes, and you can listen to us on Stitcher. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and the Tumblr.  Also check out http://thegeekbrew.spreadshirt.com/ for all your Geek Brew merchandise.

And here is tonight’s question:

Spartan was a member of what team in the Image universe?