Art by Prentis Rollins

May 1, 2018

New Hawkman Writer: Robert Venditti

“Hawkman is a foundational character in the DCU. Over time I think he’s lost some of that central importance to the DC universe, and we really want to bring that back and make him a marquee character. And to do that, we’re going to take him to a lot of unexpected, unexplored places and introduce a lot of new mythology for the character.” 

On March 15th, Hawkfans found out from David Betancourt's Washington Post article that Robert Venditti is going to be writing the new Hawkman series starting on June 13th. Excitement is high in Hawkworld, with both polls on Hawkworld's Facebook and Twitter groups showing a 90% approval of the choice. Even though Venditti has been on the front lines of DC for the past few years, some fans are asking the question, "Is Venditti a good match for Hawkman?" 

First of all, who is Robert Venditti? Here is Wikipedia's profile on his background. 
Robert Venditti was born in Memorial Hospital and raised in Hollywood, and Pembroke Pines, Florida. Though he says he always wanted to be a prose writer, he rarely read comics as a child, but would peruse the comics at the barber shop.
He later moved to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida where he received a B.A. in Political Science and English. After college he worked as a clerk at a law firm in southern Florida with aspirations to practice law, but found that work not to his liking. After subsequently worked pumping gas on a fuel truck, he moved to the Port St. John/Titusville area in Brevard County to which his parents had moved, where he attended the University of Central Florida, working at a Borders Books store in Winter Park, while earning his M.A. in Creative Writing. In about 2000, while working at Borders, a coworker recommended comics books as reading material to him. Though the skeptical Venditti initially thought of comics as solely for children, his reading of Kurt Busiek's Astro City impressed him enough to decide to change his career aspirations from prose to comics.
Venditti went to work for Chris Staros at Top Shelf Productions in 2002. His first credit on a comic book was as an editor for the Eisner Award-nominated "Top Shelf Asks the Big Questions" (Top Shelf No. 9) and his first work as a writer was in his series called "The Surrogates" in 2005. The comic was eventually made into a movie starring Bruce Willis in 2009.

Starting with The Surrogates, Venditti has written many titles, including the following: 
The Surrogates (2005-2006, Top Shelf)
Marvel Comics Presents (2008, Marvel)
Iron Man: Iron Protocols (2009, Marvel)
The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone (2009, Top Shelf)

Navy Custom Comic (2009, Marvel)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2010-present, Puffin, Hyperion)
The Homeland Directive (2011, Urban)
The Surrogates: Case Files, Top Shelf)

The Flash (2014-2016, DC)
Green Lantern (2013-2016, DC)
Green Lantern Corps (2013-14, DC)
Demon Knights (2013, DC)
X-O Manowar (2012-2016, Valiant)
Armor Hunters (2014, Valiant)
Book of Death (2015, Valiant)
Wrath of the Eternal Warrior (2015-2016, Valiant)
Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps (2016-18, DC)
Eternal Warrior: Awakening (2017, Valiant)
Damage (2018, DC)

Here is a chronological list of Venditti's work listed on Comic Book Database:

To be honest, I was not too familiar with Venditti's work. I had read some X-O Manowar, and since Green Lantern is my 2nd favorite DC hero, I had been reading some of his work on the recent Hal Jordan comic, but that was about it. Several Venditti fans have recommended X-O Manowar and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior before the Hawkman series gets underway. Both series feature characters who have lived through the centuries and tried to adapt to the world around them. Hawkman is similar in some ways so both series might give us some hints about the direction Venditti will take him. I have also enjoyed the supporting characters that Venditti writes. The characters around Aric of Dacia or Hal Jordan are as fun to read as the main character. It seems there are no wasted characters in his writing. Each gets to shine in their own way and that makes the comic that much more enjoyable. 
One theme of X-O Manowar that stood out for me was Aric of Dacia's "relationship" with the sentient armor called the "Sanhara". In X-O Manowar (2012) Issue No. 50, Aric says this;
"I understand now. My God, I understand. This began with the river of my knowledge flowing into the sea of the torment. Now the sea flows back into me, my own life but a ripple among the endless surge. The riverbanks of my mind swell. Were it my human mind alone, it would surely succumb to the deluge and be washed away forever. But I am not alone. I am joined with Sanhara. The armor that gave me freedom from captivity. The armor that made me a king of worlds. We share a bond like no other in existence. I know this to be truth."
After reading Metal and seeing how Hawkman came out of it, I can't help but see the a few similarities. Carter Hall has seen incredible things and has the knowledge of things he has seen across time. He also has a bond with the Nth metal. I am very interested to see how he has bonded with the metal after being released from Barbatos' control. Venditti won't be writing a "X-O Manohawk", but after reading X-O Manowar, Venditti does seem like the perfect choice to pick up Hawkman's mace. 
In the most recent Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps, Hal Jordan says this while fighting Zod.
"You're about to learn who really owns the skies."
That is the line I hope Hawkman gets someday. Maybe Venditti will give him something similar because it is the perfect line for a hero like Hawkman. 
Venditti is active on Twitter and I've gotten the chance to tweet back and forth with him a bit. He seems like a pretty cool guy with a lot of enthusiasm and  a zillion ideas for the Winged Warrior. Last month, I wrote an article for 13th Dimension; "Thirteen Things We Want to See in the New Hawkman Series." These were the 13 things;
1. Exploring the new horizons of Hawkman
2. Realizing the power of Hawkman's Nth Metal
3. A consistent creative team that lasts 2-3 years
4. The return of Hawkgirl
5. Hawkman and friends
6. Hawkman's flight skills
7. The Blackhawks-Challengers of the Unknown connection
8. Hawkman's new location
9. The shared history of Hawkman and Batman
10. Thanagar
11. Hawkman's Rogue's Gallery
12. More emphasis on life than death
13. Streamlining Hawkman and Hawkgirl

Venditti, as well as artist Bryan Hitch, mentioned that many of these will be answered in the new series. Or as they put it, they have plans to answer these issues and go far beyond them. My wings are fluttering with anticipation. 

If Hawkman fans go in hoping for the Egyptian reincarnated Carter Hall, or the Thanagarian Katar Hol, they may be in for a surprise. I personally think we are going to see a Hawkman like we've never seen before. In Metal No. 6, Scott Snyder cracked the Source Wall and all kinds of things are going to be happening in the DC Universe. The same may be true for Hawkman. We're going to see something completely different than anything we've seen before. I look forward to jumping into it, processing the differences and unexpected direction, and enjoying a whole new Hawkman. 
Hitch also says in the Washington Post article: 
“The Winged Man is such a significant and powerful image in myth and legend. That’s exactly the element Hawkman fits best. It’s such a unique image to play with from the Bird of Prey to the Angel, the winged man is genuinely awesome in the truest sense,” Hitch said. “Carter [Hawkman] is the DCU’s greatest warrior, but he’s also part of its secret history. All of that gives you such a rich visual tapestry as an artist to play with.”
Venditti mentioned this about Carter Hall in the podcast with The Comic Source.
The thing I find interesting about a character like Carter Hall is that he's Hawkman and he's made to fly, but he's also an archaeologist which by definition, puts him underground...which is antithetical to his nature and where he wants to be. He's made to soar, and yet he's so driven by this impulse to explore and to discover that he'll put himself in situations where he can't even fly because he's got to find the answers....What is it about him that makes him such a compulsive explorer? He doesn't know it but he doesn't even have the answers about his own life. He's always felt that there were things missing and that there were things that needed to be discovered and he has expressed that outwardly....This is what makes him unique from other characters. 
I was listening to the podcast SuperHeroSpeak and they mentioned that as a concept Hawkman should work. He looks awesome, has cool powers, and has an amazing partner. But somehow it just hasn't worked out. The character so often fails to live up to his potential. As a Hawkman fan, I am in love with the character and also with the potential of the character. There is so much potential there, but it has only surfaced at times in his history. Will this be the time when the potential of Hawkman is finally realized? I wouldn't be this excited if I didn't think that time has come. Strap on those wings and get ready to fly. Venditti is going to let Hawkman fly like he never has before. 

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