Art by Prentis Rollins (2017, Commissioned by Tim Board)

Aug 14, 2019

Board Review of Hawkman No. 15: "Darkness Within: Shades of Former Selves"


   "An enemy unseen is an enemy seen everywhere." These words from Carter Hall's journal sets the stage for part two of Hawkman's battle with the Shadow Thief. After the attack by the new-and-improved Shadow Thief in the last issue, Hawkman realizes he can't fight his enemy alone, and in this issue, we get to see who he goes to for help.   Richard Swift, also known as The Shade, first appeared in comics in Flash Comics No. 33 (September 1942). There have been several revisions of the character, but the version we see in this issue is an immortal with powers of darkness manipulation. He controls darkness and has access to the Shadowlands. He is an Englishman who prides on being the "Master of Darkness." Hawkman saw the new powers of the Shadow Thief and went to the one person who might be able to help him defeat his old enemy. 
   The back and forth between Hawkman and the Shade is very interesting, as we find out where the Shade got his cane, when they first met, and they even discuss "her." One of the most interesting and fun aspects of this current series is how most people know who Hawkman is. The museum curator in London and the woman he saved during the battle against the Deathbringers called him Hawkman. It appears that he has a friend in every village, town, and city. When he interacts with Madame Xanadu, the Atom and now the Shade, they refer to him as Carter. Carter and Richard appear to know each other quite well and appear to have some sort of friendship. 
   Carter Hall continues to have nightmares of losing control and killing everyone around him. What this has to do with the story we don't know yet, but someone is using his past as a Deathbringer to manipulate him somehow. That part of the story seems bigger than the current situation with Shadow Thief, so that may be for another story. Could Shiera be the key to helping Carter's nightmares? That would be interesting. 
   Hawkman and the Shade are discussing the problem when they are attacked by Shadow Thief and what happens next is rather surprising. The Shade has a place that is so well lit that there can be no shadows but that got me to thinking. Instead of a room of light, how about a room of pitch-black darkness? Could a shadow exist in a place completely devoid of light? Perhaps that is why the Shade took Carter to where they were at the end of the issue; to level the playing field. 
   The last issue introduced us to the threat, this issue set the stage for the battle, and it appears that the last two issues of the Year-of-the-Villain 4-part story are going to be the battle itself. The first 12 or 13 issues showed us a hero who is assertive and usually finds a way out, but the last two issues show us a Hawkman who is helpless against the threat. The dialogues that Venditti writes between Hawkman and other characters are never wasted. We usually find out something very vital about Hawkman, his relationships, or his past. The slightly-veiled reference to Shiera grabbed my attention and reminded me that she is going to be returning in one way or another. 
   As Hawkman said, Shadow Thief has always come across as a two-bit crook who just happened to have the ability to become a shadow. For this reason, he has never been my favorite Hawk-villain, but what he has done in the last two issues is very interesting and definitely an upgrade to what we have seen before. How Venditti will use him in the last two issues is something we won't want to miss. 
   As for the art, Pat Olliffe, Tom Palmer, and Jeremiah Skipper's in the last two issues continue to be very good. I enjoyed most of the issue and I like Olliffe's style that he gives Hawkman. However, there are a few panels where either the pencils or the ink seem to break down a bit. I won't say sloppy, but just a bit more attention to detail would have been good. Again, that's just a few panels, but they stand out when it happens. Skipper appears to give Hawkman brighter colors than before, such as his hair and eye color. Perhaps that is to make Hawkman stand out more when he is battling his dark enemy, which might be appreciated in the next two issues. 
Hawkman is sharing the stage with the Shade and Shadow Thief, but Venditti is giving us another enjoyable story as he expands Carter Hall's support base and also reinvents one of Hawkman's most popular villains. This comic continues to be a great re-introduction to a hero who is celebrating his 80th anniversary this year. Whether you're a veteran or new Hawkfan, if you're looking for a fun comic book with a great hero, this is it. 

Variant Cover by In-hyuk Lee
Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciller: Pat Olliffe
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Jeremiah Skipper
Letterer: Comicraft, Richard Starkings
Editors: Harvey Richards, Jamie Rich
Cover: Pat Olliffe, Tom Palmer
Variant Cover: In-hyuk Lee

Rating: 9/10

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