Real Name: Paul Johnstone

Identity/Class: Human with high tech / magical armour

Occupation: Vigilante, adventurer, avatar of justice, former Assistant District Attorney

Affiliations: Christina Reid, Carlton Sun, Spawn, Chapel, Brigade, WildC.A.T.S, Trencher, Phoebe, the Tomorrow Syndicate, the Fury, Johnny Beyond, the Others

Enemies: New York Police Department, the Dragon, Vendetta, the Regulators (Arson, Blackjac, Hardedge, Scandal, Vort-X), Hawk’s Shadow, the Liquifier, Supreme

Known Relatives: Mattie Woodroe (mother), unidentified father (deceased), Richard Woodroe (stepfather, deceased), Shadowhawk (robot “son”)

Aliases: The Spirit of Justice

Base of Operations: Harlem, New York City, United States

First Appearance: Youngblood I #2 (Image Comics, July 1992)

Powers/Abilities: Paul Johnstone was outfitted with a high-tech armored exo-skeleton that served to augment his physical strength and amplify his agility. The armor also granted him increased durability and was bulletproof. His helmet included infrared lenses, enabling him to see at night. He wielded a specialized styled shuriken that functioned much like a boomerang, spinning in midair to return to his hand. His gloves had a series of retractable metal claws that functioned like grappling hooks/harpoons and that he used occasionally as hand to hand weapons as well. He also carried special AIDS medicine in pouches that helped arrest his condition.

Paul Johnstone was extensively trained as an athlete and originally was at the peak of human fitness and in excellent physical condition. He was also an exceptional fighter and had been highly trained in inflicting critical damage and pain to his opponents. He was well versed in methods for disabling his opponents in the most painful and brutal manner possible although he was also capable of subduing opponents less violently. However as his health declined, his physical condition and abilities also worsened.

He was also trained in the law and courtroom tactics.

History: The name of ShadowHawk has had a long history as the Spirit of Justice. Over the centuries, many have worn the guise of the masked avenger although few realized that they were Avatars for the Spirit of Justice, guided and inspired to take on the name and role of ShadowHawk. In the modern age, it was assumed by an African-American man known as Paul Johnstone. Johnstone grew up on the harsh streets of Harlem with his single mother after his father died. As a boy, he descended into a life of petty crime and was ultimately arrested and came to the attention of a man named Richard Woodroe who was assigned as his caseworker. Woodroe became an integral part of Paul’s life, helping him and encouraging him and ultimately became his stepfather after marrying his mother.

Inspired by Woodroe, Paul chose to dedicate himself to the law, becoming a lawyer and eventually an assistant district attorney. However Paul’s career was tragically cut short when during a case, he refused to back down from a group of mobsters. To make an example of him, the mobsters had him attacked one night and injected with an infected AIDS syringe. After word of his attack and possible infection spread, Paul became increasingly aware of growing apprehension and fear from his various coworkers. Ultimately this led to an altercation between him and a bigoted coworker and Paul was fired. Subsequently Paul received medical confirmation that he was indeed HIV positive. Distraught, he fell into a deep depression, which turned into anger. He wanted to avenge himself upon the criminals who had destroyed his life. His friend Christine Reid suggested a way to assist him, introducing him to Carlton Sun, who had been developing an armored exo-skeleton. Extensively trained by Reid and outfitted by Sun, Paul decided to name himself ShadowHawk, after his childhood hero. He swiftly became known throughout New York City as a harsh and brutal vigilante whose signature was breaking criminals’ spines, which he felt a symbolic sort of return gesture. Like the criminals who infected him and left him feeling helpless and his body a living prison, he would make their bodies a living prison as well.

Wanted by both sides of the law, ShadowHawk found himself battling not only the NYPD but even Chicago’s Savage Dragon and Spawn, who separately attempted to bring him in, and the underworld as well, such as New York’s crime boss Vendetta, who formed the Regulators (Arson, Hardedge, Scandal, Blackjac and Vort-X) to kill ShadowHawk. But perhaps his greatest challenger proved to be Hawk’s Shadow, a white supremacist who applauded the brutality of ShadowHawk and patterned himself after his “hero” only to be horrified to discover his “hero” was an African-American, a black man of all things. Hawk’s Shadow decided that he was intended to replace Johnstone and purify the legacy of ShadowHawk. Shortly afterwards, Paul would become an unlikely part of the third Brigade team, assisting them in retrieving a lost tome in order to rescue the previous team. Paul remained as a part of this grouping only briefly before he ultimately left, believing he had to focus on his deteriorating physical condition.

As his disease became more and more pronounced, Paul’s brutality declined and he no longer crippled criminals as his anger was transformed into despair and he became increasingly desperate to try and find a cure. He encountered the supernatural spirit repossessor Trencher and his associate Phoebe, who discovered his impending death and offered her assistance. With her as his guide, Paul embarked on a quest that would take him across the world in search of assistance and led to him to encounter such unlikely sources as Youngblood’s Chapel, the WildC.A.T.S, and even the Others, none of whom could help. His journeys even took him through time to the year 1963 where he met the Tomorrow Syndicate, the Fury, and Johnny Beyond.

One of his last attempts was to try and forcibly acquire a blood sample from Supreme in hopes it might have a cure but even in his prime, Paul would have been hard pressed to succeed and instead, during the fight he lost his helmet and accidentally revealed his identity to the world. On the run from the authorities, Paul sought out Spawn once more, who told him that although his life was coming to an end that death was only the beginning. Soon afterwards, Hawk’s Shadow attacked Paul's mother, but Paul rescued her and defeated him once more. His physical activities had taken it’s toll however. Badly weakened, he was finally arrested by the police but shortly afterwards succumbed to his disease and died.

Johnstone’s death however was merely the beginning. It was discovered that Paul had merely been one of the latest of a long line of Avatars to the Spirit of Justice who had been active throughout history in many different lands and in many different guises. His death triggered the emergence of not one but four separate ShadowHawks.

One of these four ShadowHawks was a robot originally built by the WildC.A.T.S as an attempt to cure Johnstone by downloading his mind into the robotic shell but had failed. But after Johnstone’s death, the robot mysteriously activated itself and with the other three ShadowHawks ultimately merged into a gestalt being. This new ShadowHawk however quickly began a rampage as it was discovered that without a human conscience to guide it, the Spirit of Justice was reacting to what the emotionless robot perceived as injustice, which included any and all infractions of any law. Worse, deprived of any human moral codes or values to restrain itself, the robot was intent on mindlessly killing the violators, be it for such minor crimes as jaywalking or even littering. Ultimately the ShadowHawk robot was destroyed, except for the head module which accidentally fell into the hands of a young teenager known as Eddie Collins.

Apparently when donning the helmet, Eddie gains the combined memories, experiences, and abilities of all those who were previously inhabited by the Spirit of Justice including Paul Johnstone. Johnstone has occasionally appeared to Collins as a spiritual advisor thus ensuring that his legacy will continue...

Comments: Created by Jim Valentino, ShadowHawk first appeared in a few cameos and guest starred in several of the early Image titles before gaining his own three limited issue series or story arcs, each had been labeled with Roman numerals and each with a different focus. The first story arc or ShadowHawk I was a 4-issue limited series and introduced a number of different characters. Uniquely enough, although the series introduced ShadowHawk, it did not reveal his or her true identity, instead it had a number of possible contenders and red herrings such as Carlton Sun and Christina Reid among them who might have the mysterious vigilante. The second story arc, ShadowHawk II was a 3-issue limited series which saw the revelation of Paul Johnstone as ShadowHawk and incidentally introduced Hawk’s Shadow. The third story arc, ShadowHawk III was a 4-issue limited series which focused on Johnstone’s origins and the revelation that he was suffering from AIDS. The revelation of his condition was a response to the widespread disinformation that AIDS only affected gays or drug users at this time.

After these limited issue series, ShadowHawk began being published on a regular basis and the Roman numeral system was abandoned, with the ongoing taking its numbers as a sequential continuation of the combined mini-series. The first 4 issues in Shadowhawk I was 1 through 4, while ShadowHawk II #1 was considered issue 5 and so on. The original series completed at issue #18 with Johnstone’s death. Paul Johnstone did subsequently appear in an inter-company crossover with Vampirella in a two part story in which they became lovers and she transformed him into a vampire that cured him of AIDS. This crossover however was considered an “imaginary story”.

Afterwards, Jim Valentino handed writing duties to Kurt Busiek who created the idea of “Spirit of  Justice” and that Johnstone had been merely one of the Avatars of. He subsequently followed up with a series of stories that told of previous ShadowHawks from various different eras such as from the Old West to the era of the Samurai in Japan to ancient Egypt and even during the French Revolution. A Silver-Age ShadowHawk was inspired by the Bat Man of the 1960s, parodying the era of Adam West and Burt Ward’s campy Bat Man TV series, complete with a kid sidekick Squirrel, a ShadowHawk Car, and even a Lady ShadowHawk. One of Busiek’s contributions (one that few readers picked up on) was the revelation that Hawk’s Shadow was Squirrel, the former sidekick of this era’s ShadowHawk all grown up.

Profile by Michael Higuchi

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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