The first issue of Hawkman finally arrived this week. As a Hawkman fan, the last three months have been a time of speculating, hoping and guessing about what the new series will bring us. Over the course of the last three months, I have had the pleasure of meeting writer Robert Venditti on Twitter and later on The Comic Source podcast, tweeting and talking with him about what he is planning for the new series. The more news I heard, and the more information I received, the feeling that something special was going to be starting on June 13th gradually intensified as the release day approached. It’s been three days since I first saw the book, and I have to admit that as a Hawkman fan, I was disappointed. I was disappointed in the fact that I had held my expectations too low. Nothing prepared me for what I experienced on June 13th. Let me get into the details of the book, and I’ll explain more about what I mean at the end.
The Cover Art
We started getting pictures of the cover art back in April. First we got the official cover by Bryan Hitch. It now ranks as one of my favorite covers of all time. It has everything; Hawkman in the sky, wings spread, his mace, the details of his costume, and the Man-Hawks in the background. This is a cover to perfectly describe Hawkman and Hitch nailed it. The detail he put into it is amazing. This was the perfect cover to start a new series in my opinion. Stjepan Sejic’s variant cover came out a few weeks later and again blew everyone’s mind. Sejic is one of the best artists in the business right now and it really looks like he had fun doing this one. I like Hitch’s cover more, but Sejic’s cover is no less stunning and it seems to be the favorite of the majority of fans.
The Internal Art
Bryan Hitch (pencils), Hitch and Andrew Currie (inks), Alex Sinclair (colors)
When Hawkman Found came out last year in December, I told anyone who would listen that it was the most beautiful Hawkman comic I had ever seen. The art by Hitch, Kevin Nowlan and Sinclair was just stunning. This issue was no different. The opening page with Hawkman flying towards you with the sun shining through his wings is magnificent. On the following pages, we get a scene in an underground temple where the attention given to the details of the symbols on the pillars and walls is incredible. Hitch hit it out of the park once again.
Hawkman has been blessed in the past to have some of the greatest artists draw his books, artists such as Joe Kubert, Murphy Anderson, Richard Howell, Timothy Truman, Graham Nolan, Jan Duursema, Steve Lieber, Stephen Sadowski, Rags Morales, and Joe Bennett. With only two books so far, Hitch is already making his mark on Hawkman. The helmet has been sleeked down a bit. Carter Hall has been downsized a bit as well. He’s not the hulking presence he has been in the past. But the most remarkable thing that Hitch has done with Hawkman is his wings. Hitch did his homework. The wings have a layered look of light and dark feathers which are common in hawks. They are beautiful to behold.
Not only is the art outstanding, but Venditti and Hitch’s ideas for the costume and tools are nothing like we’ve ever seen before. Carter Hall is now able to change instantaneously into his costume, bring his wings in or out, and he has the wings as a part of the harness. The mace is practically a light saber. The handle is seen clearly at Hawkman’s side and when he grabs it, it turns into a mace which he uses to devastating effect. I’m wondering if that Nth Metal saber turns into other weapons like a spear, a net, a chain and even the Claw of Horus. That would be something!
The Character of Carter Hall
We found out several things in the first issue about Carter Hall:
1. He’s an archaeologist.
2. He's a scholar and a preservationist of history.
3. He’s been reincarnating since the dawn of man.
4. He’s been an Egyptian prince, a medieval knight, and an Old West gunhand.
5. He has always been enthralled by flight.
6. The two things that drive him are exploration and discovery.
7. He supports himself with grants and consulting fees.
8. He helped some Greek friends in their civil war decades ago.
9. He tends to rely on the documented and verifiable, and doesn’t like to acknowledge magic
10. He speaks thousands of languages, living and extinct.
The Two-Page Spread of Hawkman’s History
Towards the end of the comic, we get the two-page spread that everyone is talking about. It is fantastic. Hitch brought in so many of the Hawkmen from past Hawkman comics, but he also gave us new ones. We can see The Silent Knight, Prince Khufu, the Silver Age Hawkman, Katar Hol of the Hawkworld series, the Dragon of Barbatos and many more. We also learned that Carter had lives on Krypton (Catar-ol) and Rann (Katarthul) as well. I counted 45 Hawkmen on the page. The art by Hitch on these two pages is again mind-blowing.
Venditti’s Idea of Hawkman/Carter Hall
For years, I’ve heard people say that Carter Hall could be like the Indiana Jones of the DC Universe. He’s a scholar, he has a signature weapon, he goes on archaeological digs, he knows about history, and he fights bad guys as he searches for the answers. But no one ever really took that seriously. Until now. Venditti seems to be writing Carter Hall as an Indiana Jones with wings, an archaeologist and scholar who just happens to also be a superhero. It makes perfect sense and it's a wonder no one ever really latched onto that angle before.
When I talked to Venditti in the podcast, he mentioned that after he knew he was going to write the new Hawkman series, he knew in about an hour how he was going to tie all the Hawkmen together. He didn’t retcon anything, nor did he erase anything. He put every Hawkman that ever existed back on the table. He figured it out by having Carter Hall “reincarnating across time…and space.” So not only has Carter been reincarnating on Earth, he has also been on Thanagar, Rann, Krypton and countless other planets. Maybe even at the same time. The potential for some amazing and fun story lines boggle the mind.
The biggest thing Venditti accomplished in this issue is to establish a character that even new fans can enjoy. I can’t count how many Hawkworld followers have said that this is the first Hawkman comic they have read and they loved it. Sure, Carter Hall still has all his history, but you don’t need to know it all in order to follow the story. This may be the one thing that will give this series the momentum to continue for a long time.
|Justice League No. 3 Variant cover by Jim Lee|
A word about Hawkgirl. To be honest, I did not expect her to show up in Hawkman No. 1 but I was rather surprised and disappointed that she wasn't even on that two-page spread. As a Hawkfan, I might have been pretty upset about it. But I'm not for the following reasons.
First, she is in the bi-weekly Justice League line up. This is where she has been most successful and it's great to see DC Comics put her back in that spot. And we get to see her twice a month. Scott Snyder brought her back in Metal and he's writing her there. If we have learned anything this past year, I'll bet Snyder has a lot more surprises about Hawkgirl coming up. Surprises that are all hers and that are completely separated from Hawkman. I would consider that a plus. AND she's showing up in other places like Wonder Woman! Robert Venditti has also said that she has a definite place in the Hawkman story. It wouldn't be a Hawkman story if she wasn't! But Hawkman comics have always struggled to establish a base. I think he is getting that base first, knowing that Hawkgirl is alive and well in the JL. After that base is established, Hawkgirl will come and strengthen that base even more. So we got the best of both worlds. Snyder is doing Hawkgirl in the JL, and Venditti is doing Hawkman. We get Hawks at least 3 weeks a month. It’s looking pretty good.
I mentioned at the start of the article that I wasn’t prepared for what we saw in the first issue of Hawkman. The last few years have been a bit rough for Hawkfans and we’ve had our share of disappointments. Those disappointments kept me from having honest expectations as the series began. I realize now that I was subconsciously guarded against being let down again. But Venditti and Hitch's Hawkman has given me the freedom to hope for something really great. Hawkman and Hawkgirl have been given a chance to become major players in the DC Universe again. Snyder and Venditti are setting up the new Hawkworld for us to follow. Whether the Hawks continue to fly, or come crashing down to earth depends on the fans. Buy the comic if you can. If not, get it digitally. Talk it up. Tell your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter about it. Keep the excitement level up. Let’s show DC Comics that they made the right decision in bring them back. It’s up to us, Hawkfans. As Venditti wrote on the first page, “I am made to soar!” For Hawkfans all over the world, we felt the same way as we read that line. We were made to soar in the comics with Hawkman and now we get to do that again. May we fly high and far.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Rating: 10 out of 10