The character starred in a few mini-series before the mantle was passed down after the original’s death. Paul Johnstone grew up in harsh streets of Harlem with his single mother. He was involved in a life of petty crime until he was caught and arrested. It wasn’t until caseworker, Richard Woodroe, had came into his life, pushed and encouraged him positively, even becoming a surrogate father and eventually his stepfather. Paul grew up dedicating himself to the law and became an assistant district attorney. Sadly, Paul’s life wasn’t going to continue being peachy. After refusing to back down to the mob, attackers were sent who injected Paul with an HIV infected syringe. Word spread of his attack and possible infection around his workplace. He eventually got into a fight with a bigot co-worker which eventually led to Paul being fired. Paul fell into depression when he received the word that he was in fact infected with HIV. His depression turned into anger as he wanted to get back the criminals who have ruined his life. His friend, Christine Reid, introduced him to Carlton Sun, a man who was creating a special armored exo-suit. The suit would allow the user to raise his physical strength and agility along with durability and was bulletproof; metal razor claws used as hooks and harpoons; infrared lenses to help him see in the dark among other useful devices. Paul agreed to try on the suit and was put through intensive training. He named himself Shadowhawk after a childhood hero and became a vigilante in New York City. He also carried with him pills to help slow the spread of his HIV infection.
Shadowhawk was a hard-core and violent hero. While he took down criminals, he would brutally attack them, even injuring their spines. He wanted criminals to understand the prison he was in due to injury of his body. He became a target to criminals who wanted to put him down and a target by the cops who attempted to take down the violent vigilante. He even inspired another vigilante by the name of Hawk’s Shadow. The weird thing was that Hawk’s Shadow was a White Supremacist who believed in Shadowhawk’s cause and modeled his actions after him. As time went by, Shadowhawk’s condition became worse and his HIV infection developed into full out AIDS. He spent the next few adventures looking for cures to no avail while his attacks became less and less brutal. His identity eventually became public to the world when his helmet fell off during a battle. While on the run from cops who now knew who he was, Hawk's Shadow felt betrayed that his hero was in fact a black man and made forth to attack Paul’s mother. Shadowhawk was successful in saving his mother but his health was severely weakened which allowed the cops to finally arresting him. Paul Johnstone eventually succumbed to the ill-fated disease and passed away.
The mantle of Shadowhawk has in fact passed on to other people, notably Eddie Collins, the recent Shadowhawk. Though I’m not too sure we should count Paul Johnstone fully out. Rumor has it that Jim Valentino will be writing a new series with both Eddie and Paul as Shadowhawks. In a crossover with Spawn, Al Simmons did tell Paul that death was only the beginning… Hmm, so who knows?
Adventures of Shadowhawk can be found:
Shadowhawk Chronicles, Vol. 1
Shadowhawk: Out of the Shadows