Last year, David Walker moved from writing Nighthawk (sadly cancelled) to Occupy Avengers. Occupy Avengers is a strange beast — ostensibly about Hawkeye trying to atone for killing Bruce Banner during Civil War II, it also features a cast of, well, characters that nobody else really uses. Including characters from Walker’s own Nighthawk run.
Overall, Occupy Avengers has been a great book saddled with a silly name. However, in issue eight, the Secret Empire tie-in issue, Occupy Avengers pulls of a tricky move so well, I had to go back and reread it, even knowing what had happened.
A little backstory: David Walker’s Nighthawk was about a Batman-style vigilante (and member of Squadron Supreme) who fought crime with the assistance of Tilda Johnson, a former supervillain known as Deadly Nightshade. In Nighthawk, we never really learn how she went from supervillain to superhero’s assistant, but once Walker started writing Occupy Avengers, he was quick to have Hawkeye and Red Wolf meet with Nighthawk and Tilda and we get her side of the story: basically, she realized she had become something she hated, tried to get out, but was about to be killed by a group of criminals when Nighthawk saved her.
It’s a fascinating look at one person’s redemption story, as Tilda not only goes from being Nighthawk’s assistant but into a full fledged member of Hawkeye’s Avengers team (which has no name, but should never be called “Occupy Avengers,” because that’s just silly). At the end of issue four, she leaves with Hawkeye and Nighthawk tells her that if she needs any help, to just call.
(Oh and then the next few issues, they recruited Wheels from the Wolfpack. Seriously.)
And then issue eight, illustrated by Martín Morazzo and Jorge Coelho, came out and we got a quick recap of the Hydra takeover from Secret Empire.
The man who dies in the fifth panel seems like he’s just another ordinary citizen killed by Hydra, doesn’t he? One of the “everyday people” that the panel is referring to. That’s what I’m pretty sure most people thought while reading it. That’s what I thought while reading it.
That is until Hawkeye’s team (excluding Hawkeye, who is helping lead the rebellion) ambush a Hydra team that is controlling the supply of food. And we get this:
The man gunned down in the first page was Nighthawk himself. He wasn’t killed in costume by some evil supervillain. He was gunned down by random Hydra goons while trying to protect innocent people. They didn’t even know who he was. They shot him and left his body on the street.
Let me reiterate this: David Walker, who wrote an entire series about Nighthawk, a character who was important to him, killed him off in two panels. Without anyone realizing it at first. A bold, risky move that I think does pay off, with Tilda taking on the mantle of Nighthawk. Her character has moved forward so much that I think her trying to become a better person and fill Nighthawk’s shoes is a fascinating development.
We even see her giving a rousing speech to the farmers whose food is being seized by Hydra.
You might not think a title like Occupy Avengers would cut so deep, but it does. It’s a fascinating look at characters (bar Hawkeye) most people think are nobodies. Red Wolf, Wheels, the Fireheart cousins, even Tilda herself. And now they are Avengers.