REVIEW: Marvel’s Dark Knight Returns in AMERICAN KNIGHTS #1
In American Knights #1 by Paul Grist, Chris Allen, Marc Deering, Guru-eFX, Cory Petit, and a main cover by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, and Neeraj Menon, “A Pale Reflection,” we get to see another side of this week’s extended Marvel Comics homage to Batman. But while the other one-shot tie-in this week, Marvel Double Action #1, emphasizes certain ways that Batman is similar to Spider-Man, this issue brings together the aspects of Daredevil comics that reflect Gotham City…
At Marvel Blog, we say: Frank Miller, eat your heart out!
The Dark American Knight
One of the most important aspects of this story’s connection to Batman comes through Luke Cage, who is the Heroes Reborn equivalent of Commissioner Gordon.
Cage plays the role of Gordon as he appears in a certain kind of Batman story: the dark and gritty kind, which pulls from the crime genre and doesn’t let anyone appear unless they have at least three morally-reprehensible decisions in their backstory.
Another way that this comic pays homage to that type of Batman story is that, in spite of a subtitle promising that this issue is “A Nighthawk Story Featuring Luke Cage,” this is essentially a Luke Cage issue in which Nighthawk plays a minor role.
However, this isn’t really a complaint… just an observation that the creators obviously had a certain kind of Bat-story in mind!
Another aspect of this issue that I liked was the way that almost all of our favorite Defenders got to play a role, with Jessica Jones and Misty Knight appearing as supporting characters (although seeing Jones as a police detective might just be one of the weirdest things we’ve seen in this Heroes Reborn world).
(Uncle) Ben’s Chili Bowl
American Knights #1 also gets a special shout out for including one of the best hot dog and chili spots in Washington D.C., Ben’s Chili Bowl, although it goes by another name in this Marvel comic, possibly because we are in the parallel Heroes Reborn universe.
Marvel is supposed to be the world outside your window, after all – and in normal continuity, that means recognizable locations! Not so in the Heroes Reborn universe. However, as a former D.C. resident, I almost fell off my chair when the famous D.C. eatery got referenced in this issue.
Ben’s Chili Bowl isn’t just an eatery in the U Street Corridor in Washington D.C, it’s more than that… you should read more about it’s history here because it’s relevant to this Marvel Comics issue – you know, because Batman is the world’s greatest detective and all.
Ben’s opened in 1958 (and interestingly, before it was home to some of the best chili in the world, Harry Beckley, one of D.C.’s first Black police detectives, converted it into a pool hall).
Since 1958, Ben’s has seen and survived it all, managing to stay open through civic unrest and holding out as the area around it started to gentrify.
Plus, it’s fed everyone from leaders of the civil rights movement, like Martin Luther King Jr., to entertainment superstars, like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Questlove, to political leaders, like then President-Elect Barack Obama in 2009.
All three of the Heroes Reborn issues this week center on this new incarnation of Nighthawk in the Amalgam Comics Through a Mirror Darkly version of the New-ish 52-ish universe, including American Knights #1.
But while we now know many of the dark chapters in this character’s history, it still seems like he isn’t really the hero we need! What will happen in Heroes Reborn #5? Stay tuned, Marvel Blog True Believers!