Writer: Robert Venditti
Artists: Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, & and
Hawkman has always been one of those heroes I’ve wanted to really love but has never quite had a writer that made me love him. I think his role in the DCU is enviable, and his backstory is one of the most interesting ones out there, so what the hell keeps happening? Why doesn’t anyone know what to do with the character? I couldn’t say. But I do think that this fresh start might turn out to be just what he needs.
If you had told me a week ago that Hawkman was going to have a character-driven plot, I would have gone “Hunh. I mean, I don’t think so.” And I would have been wrong. Carter is on the hunt for things that will tell him more about his past. It starts out with a truly Indiana Jones-style temple heist, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to see that because most DC heroes don’t actually count as adventurers. They’re protectors, but not adventurers, so seeing some adventure in this comic is actually super satisfying and a surprisingly fresh feeling. A side character early on is given just enough backstory to give him a reason to exist, and the surprise appearance of another DC character makes a lot of sense and helps the plot along. There’s some stuff here that makes me worry that the scale is going to go a little too big later on, but at the moment you can count me in for whatever comes next.
Carter Hall has always been a little inconsistent. Sometimes he’s a run-of-the-mill science hero. Sometimes he’s “The Savage Hawkman.” In general, he’s never had a clear personality, and I’m happy to say that this series has a very clear and strong character set out for him: a man who is not sure what his past is, a man who is not sure who he is. More than that, there’s a character we all know who seems to be forming the backbone for this incarnation of Carter Hall, and it’s Indiana Goddamn Jones. Even a glance at Carter’s civilian brown jacket and messenger bag show what the goal is for this series, and to be honest, I couldn’t be more excited for this take on him. An explorer, an adventurer, adventuring into the past to understand more of himself. He needs more development, but this was a strong start for a new interpretation of Hawkman.
Bryan Hitch is back in his rightful place as penciler and inker, and man does it come out well! I will say that his faces are a little odd from time to time, as if the eyes aren’t quite sitting right in the skulls, but much of the issue is a delight. The design work especially catches my eye – Hawkman’s never looked better, and the temple he’s plundering at the beginning is really nicely done. Hitch has always made great art, with cool perspective and wonderfully simple yet expressive angled panelwork. The colors are also excellent. For example, there’s an aerial battle set against a sunset, and the use of color actually keeps the horizon line clear to the reader even though the pencils don’t indicate it at all. This is the kind of thing that marks a good colorist: understanding color’s power to communicate and taking advantage of it for the reader’s benefit.
If you’re a Hawkman fan or you’re interested in a new series that has a recognizable protagonist, go for it!