Art by Adam Kubert

May 5, 2020

Board Review of Hawkman No. 23: Miasma of Fear


It was a long wait, 55 days to be exact, but Hawkman No. 23 was finally released. We were left in suspense about the story about a "Plague Doctor" in the 17th century Europe coming out while the world is fighting a pandemic in real-time. It was uncanny, to say the least, but writer Robert Venditti had the idea for the story back in October. And it leads right into a moment we've been wanting for a long time.

In issue No. 22, Shayera Hol/Hawkwoman and the Sky Tyrant both reached for the "Key" and were immediately transported to an unknown location. Issue No. 23 starts with Shayera and Sky Tyrant falling into darkness and a flashback story begins. It is eerily relevant to what is happening in the world today as Hawkman is a Spaniard named  Dr. Carlo Salon, helping people who have been stricken with the plague. Things turn bad and he is about to be executed when someone steps in to save him.
Art from 1841
Hawkman's character wears the beak mask that plague doctors actually wore back in 17th century Europe. These doctors would fill the beaks with herbs and perfumes because there was the belief that the disease was in the air and the herbs would keep the doctors from breathing in the disease. (This is from my quick study of the costumes but it has a fascinating history that needs to be looked into more later.) These costumes are remembered even today. Venditti's knowledge of history and how he weaves so much actual history into Hawkman's background is incredible to see. Here is a depiction of the costume from 1841, and another from a recent Festival of Venice, where the costumes are often seen.

Costumes from the Festival of Venice
It seems that the story of the plague doctor was used to remind us of something very important about the relationship between Carter and Shayera. After the flashback ends, we arrive at the realm of the Lord of the Void. And after 23 issues of waiting, we are finally, finally given a scene that we have been waiting for. At first, it felt rather anticlimatic, but after reading it a few more times, it was just perfect. It is a panel that instantly goes into my list of greatest panels in Hawkman's history. All Hawkman and Hawkwoman fans need to read this issue.
Now the real battle starts. Hawkman and Hawkwoman have arrived at the realm of the Lord of the Void. We haven't seen this entity since issue No. 7, but it appears it is busy getting ready to make its move. This is the entity that started it all and we may be finding out more about it and the other entity that gave Carter and Shayera the power of reincarnation (I hope).
Venditti continues to give us panels that are so touching or full of impact. This issue was no exception. It seems like an easy read, but after reading it a few times over, you catch things you missed or didn't realize the first time. With Venditti, one read is never enough. That's good writing. The art was interesting with two pencillers. Fernando Pasaringave us the present story, while Marcio Takara did the past. Oclair Albert (inks) and Jeromy Cox (colors) handled both. The vibrancy of the lines and colors are so beautiful to look at. I hope this team stays together for the foreseeable future.
I don't want to give away too much of what happened, but there was a big payoff in this issue and all Hawkfans need to pick this one up. The whole dynamic of the story has turned and it just got twice as interesting. Big reveals appear to be coming up in the issues ahead. We finally got what we have been waiting for, and with the infection finally out of the way, it seems like the Hawks are where they are destined to be. It's been a long time since we've been able to say that, and it feels great.

Hawkman No. 23
Miasma of Fear
Writer: Robert Venditti
Pencils: Fernando Pasarin and Marcio Takara
Inks: Marcio Takara and Oclair Albert
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editors: Andrea Shea and Alex R. Carr
Cover: Mikel Janin
Variant Cover: Gerardo Zaffino

Rating: 10/10
Variant Cover by Gerardo Zaffino

4 comments:

  1. AnonymousMay 06, 2020

    Great book. My #23 is still in the mail.. cant wait. Confused about this Hawkmans abilities though. Strength? Does this version just fly? When is nth metal going to come into play? Is it still a part of his biology like in Savage HM?? The book really hasnt discussed his abilities outside of reincarnation. I've always wanted to see Hawkman master nth the way ominar synn did... great write up.

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  2. So far, in the new series we have seen him mentally control his mace s that it flies back or attacks for him, his strength is considerably above a normal human (he cratered a planet), strong enough to beat down a T-Rex, has incredible stamina as he fought off an army of Feitherans for hours, he is exceptionally durable (crashed through a building unfazed), and he heals very quickly. He also controls his wings and costume mentally or through the medallion on his chest. His mace also appears when he needs it.

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  3. AnonymousMay 24, 2020

    Do you think we will ever see a hawkman who has completely mastered the powers of nth, to the level that Synn did? I mean hes been around it maybe since the beginning of time.

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    1. Hard to say. The Nth Metal seems to work differently at times. Synn is a Thanagarian demon so maybe he could withstand the stress the Nth Metal puts on your body more than others. Just guessing though...

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