Monday, January 19, 2015

Upcoming: Convergence: Justice Society of America

The Convergence hits just keep on coming from DC Comics, as we have one more Convergence miniseries which features Hawkman.  And it's no surprise to this blogger that the final series is Convergence: Justice Society of America.  Take it away, Newsarama:

CONVERGENCE: JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #1
Written by DAN ABNETT
Art by TOM DERENICK and TREVOR SCOTT
Cover by DAN PANOSIAN
Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
On sale APRIL 29 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 2, $3.99 US • RATED T
STARRING HEROES FROM CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS! Older and in full retirement under the dome, members of the Justice Society get the chance to regain their youth to stave off forces from the Qward Universe. But the promise of youth comes with a deadly price!

As with all of these Convergence books, this sounds like a fun romp, especially with Dan Abnett at the helm.  Tom Derenick has a smooth style which should translate nicely with the bold, old fashioned uniforms of the JSA, especially with Scott's embellishment.  I even like the cover, wherein Dan Panosian has tapped a sort of Howard Chaykin vibe.  Flash, GL, Dr. Fate, and Hawkman all sport a sort of "real world fantastic" aesthetic which is a good fit for the original mystery men.  The Chip Kidd variant features Jay Garrick.

Convergence is shaping up to be a fairly decent investment for me, but with all these books being only two-parters, I can afford to indulge a little bit -- especially when we are getting so many old favorites back.  What about you -- will Convergence: Justice Society of America make it into your pull box?

Image: Convergence: Justice Society of America #1, 2015, Dan Panosian.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Convergence: Hawkman #1 Variant Cover by Chip Kidd Revealed

Well, that didn't take long.  Newsarama has the Chip Kidd variant covers for the Convergence miniseries, including Convergence: Hawkman #1.

Each week of minis has their own "fade out" color, to help differentiate them week to week.  Which makes sense as each week stars heroes from a certain era.  Hawkman and the other COIE era characters get yellow, which at least fits in the color palette for the Winged Wonders.  The fade out effect really makes me think of Zero Hour, which might be the point considering that Convergence is about the mashing up of time and space, yes?

Now, as far as the cover image of Hawkman, I did some research work, but I was unable to identify where the image comes from.  I am assuming it is a cover, but it might not be, so that alone makes it tough for me.  It LOOKS like Richard Howell to me from the hook of the nose on the helmet and the amount of lines on the helmet.  But I compared it to the covers to Shadow War of Hawkman as well as the covers to Volume 2 and couldn't find a match.  Hopefully someone better at this sort of thing than me can help me out.

The variant cover is neat, and I like that it calls back to the history of DC, as is appropriate for the event.  That said, I think I will stick to the Albuquerque cover which was revealed yesterday.  Still, this is a nice variant cover, and I am digging what DC is doing here.  

What do you folks think?  Will you go with the variant cover, or stick with the regular version?

Image: Convergence: Hawkman #1 variant cover, 2015, Chip Kidd.    

New Poll On Being Carter Hall: Buying Convergence: Hawkman?

I've posted a new poll here Being Carter Hall, and this time we are asking about the upcoming Convergence event; specifically, Convergence: Hawkman.

Will you be buying the Winged Wonders' miniseries?  How about the main Convergence miniseries?  Or are you going to pass on them?  Click through and vote!

To get the ball rolling, I'll say that I am definitely buying the Convergence: Hawkman mini, and am strongly leaning towards buying the main series as well.  I am curious as to what you other Hawkfans out there think!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Convergence: Hawkman #1 Cover Revealed

Well, after the Flashpoint Hawks revelation in yesterday's post, we get more Hawkman and Hawkwoman in Convergence today, as the cover to Convergence: Hawkman #1 is revealed!  From Newsarama:

CONVERGENCE: HAWKMAN #1
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art by TIM TRUMAN and ENRIQUE ALCATENA
Cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
On sale APRIL 22 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 2, $3.99 US • RATED T
STARRING HEROES FROM CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS! Hawkman and Hawkgirl put their Shadow War on hold as they face the might of anthropomorphic rat-men and bat-men in the deadly land of Kamandi!

Alright: The Albuquerque cover is fantastic!  Our Pinnioned Powerhouses look resplendant in their Pre-Crisis glory, with Hawkman looking every bit the warrior from another planet, and Hawkwoman (they call her "Hawkgirl," but if this is Shadow War era, Shay is Hawkwoman by this point) looking suitably sleek and powerful.  I especially like the glare in Katar's eyes and the contrast of Shayera's mask hiding her expression.  The "Gotham City" sign coupled with the solicit suggests to me that this will take place in the ruined remains of the city, but who knows?

The Variant cover is "designed" by Chip Kidd; appropriate, as Kidd is best known as a graphic designer more than "artist" in the traditional comics sense.  I will reserve judgement until I see it, but fair warning, it's going to have to be pretty spectacular to beat that Albuquerque cover.

The rest of the solicit is the same as was previously released, but I am no less excited for it.  

As more of these solicits are revealed, I am getting more and more excited for Convergence.  Looks like DC readers should be in for a treat of a throwdown.

Image: Convergence: Hawkman #1, 2015, Rafael Albuquerque.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Upcoming: Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1

DC has begun the marketing push for their upcoming Convergence event, starting with the first round of solicitations for the 40 two-part series.  One of these is Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle, which features the Flashpoint versions of Hawkman and Hawkgirl!  Take it away, Newsarama:

CONVERGENCE: NIGHTWING/ORACLE #1
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by JAN DUURSEMA and DAN PARSONS
Cover by JILL THOMPSON
Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
On sale APRIL 8 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 2, $3.99 US • RATED T
STARRING HEROES FROM THE PRE-FLASHPOINT DCU! Just as they've finally been reunited, the romance between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon is sentenced to execution by Flashpoint Hawkman and Hawkwoman!

Some thoughts:

--Gail Simone writing Hawkman?  And Gail Simone placing said Hawkman against Nightwing and Oracle?  I don't predict this working out well for the Winged Wonder.  

--On the other hand, Jan Duursema drawing the Hawks is a welcome surprise!  I have been working my way through Hawkman Volume 3, and in the early days of that series (and the latter days of Hawkworld), her work was almost always a treat.  So it should be good to see her handle them once again.

--I don't remember the Hawks playing much of a role in Flashpoint; but to be fair, I didn't read Flashpoint so maybe I just missed it.  The Jill Thompson cover really works the "Conan with wings" vibe, which I am cool with.  The offset emblem on the chest harness is a nice asymmetrical touch as well.  

I am going to be picking and choosing which Convergence books I get, but if you put the Hawks front and center, I am going to be pretty severely tempted.  I normally would not buy a Bat-book written by Simone, but I think my curiosity has been piqued enough to check this one out.  What do you folks think, will you be checking this miniseries out?

Image: Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1, 2015, Jill Thompson.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Convergence: Hawkman Solicitation Revealed!

You might have missed this over the Thanksgiving holiday last week, but DC snuck a little Hawk goodness into their Convergence solicits.  Check it out right here, courtesy of Newsarama:

HAWKMAN
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Tim Truman and Enrique Alcatena
Colorist: John Kalisz
Hawkman and Hawkgirl put their Shadow War on hold as they face the anthropomorphic might of rat-men and bat-men in the deadly land of Kamandi!

Very interesting indeed!  Specifically putting this story during the Shadow War era is an very unexpected choice considering the suspect nature of just whether those stories actually happened or not.  But considering the gimmick of the Convergence storyline, where Brainiac is able to move not only through space but also timelines, it doesn't take much mental gymnastics to assume that the Shadow War as depicted by Isabella, Richard Howell, et. al., took place in an alternate timeline.

The creative team is the bigger story here.  I know Jeff Parker mostly as a Marvel guy, and am passingly familiar with his Hulk work more than anything else.  But the work of his which I have read has generally been pretty good.  Not the first creator I would have pegged for a Shadow War-era Hawkman story, but I have faith that he is going to turn in something worth reading -- and the idea of him handling the Animal Men of the Kamandi timeline sounds like a blast considering, again, his work with monsters and savage characters from various Hulk stories.

The art team is the one which will make long time Hawkfans sit up and take notice, though!  Tim Truman and Enrique Alcatena are reunited from the original Hawkwold prestige format series, and the sample artwork looks amazing.  Seeing them handling Katar and Shayera in their pre-Hawkworld uniforms is going to be a real treat for me considering how strong a stamp they put on the "Wingman" look.  If nothing else, this series should be a treat to look at!

So, what do you think?  Looking forward to this little visit back to the days of the Shadow War courtesy of the art team from Hawkworld?  Leave a comment and share!

Image: Convergence: Hawkman artwork, 2014, Tim Truman, image retrieved from Newsarama.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hawkman v.3:no.1-6, Annual Re-Reading Thoughts

In between reading issues of my Halloween reading of reprints of EC's Vault Of Horror (I do so love Johnny Craig's art -- there's a reason my handle on my old horror movie Geocities site was "Vaultkeeper Luke"), I have managed to get a rough start on my next Hawk-related project, which is a read-through of Volume 3.  Now, I have covered some of these previously here, so I will not be getting into details, but like I did with Hawkworld instead give some overall thoughts of the series in the context of Hawkman's publishing history and where the character was at this point in the early 1990s.  

Coming off the finale of Hawkworld, I read the first six issues of Volume 3, along with the infamous Annual which introduced the world to the New Blood character Mongrel.  These seven issues represent the end of John Ostrander's run handling Katar and Shayera, and does a good job of tying a proverbial bow on the top of the characters (more on that in a bit).  The tone is less thoughtful than Hawkworld, with more action, but overall it still shares Ostrander authorial voice for the characters and doesn't jam it up too badly.

The central conceit is that it has been nine months since the explosion in the Netherworld which ended Hawkworld.  No one has seen Hawkman or Hawkwoman in that time, and when a "new" Hawkman appears, he looks and acts differently than the one the Chicago PD knew.  He refuses to answer question about who he is, and, in private, he behaves a lot differently, talking to animal spirits and living in an abandoned brownstone.  So immediately Ostrander sets up this mystery -- "Who is this new Hawkman?" -- which we, as the reader, assume will be the driving factor in the story.

And then Hawkman takes his helmet off in issue #2 and tells us -- and Green Lantern Hal Jordan -- that he's Katar Hol, and this whole new identity schtick is a ruse.  

You get the feeling that Ostrander was not exactly thrilled with this idea?

In any event, Katar it is, so it does not come much surprise when Shayera -- whom we last saw being spirited away by some shadowy folks after the Netherworld explosion -- pops up again, albeit with her body being occupied by Count Viper, and Shayera being stuck in the body of a older, overweight man locked in a mental hospital.  This too makes more sense having read Hawkworld this time around -- obviously Count Viper can jump bodies with his mind, and it's not that much a leap that he can also displace the current occupant.  It also makes sense that Viper, whom we never got much of in the waning days of Hawkworld, would be the big bad here, as he tries to enact his scheme to save America from itself.

The main story from there -- Viper sending Meta/Tech assassins after Katar in order to body-swap with him, then going to New York to ensnare enough of the Justice League to have the power to take control of the federal government -- is simple enough, providing good guest spot opportunities for Wonder Woman, Bloodwynd, and The Eradicator.  More interesting is the final piece of Katar's origin, as we finally meet his mother -- Naomi Carter, an Earth woman who married Paran Katar during his time on Earth as Perry Carter.  It's a move which reminds me in no small part of Byrne's Man Of Steel revamp, where Clark was born on Earth; here, Katar feels his strong connection with Earth as he was born to an Earthling mother.  It does further drive the Post-Crisis Katar farther away from the Pre-Crisis one, but at this point that boat has sailed.

This revelation allows us to finally fill in the blanks between the end of Hawkworld and the start of this series, as Carter Hall rescues the severely wounded Katar and brings him to Naomi for help.  Ostrander also uses this to introduce the more mystical elements to Katar's personality, as it's pretty much Comic Book Law that any Native Americans characters have to talk about spirit animals and vision quests and sweat lodges and the like.  I do have to admit, though, that Ostrander does tie this back to the Tim Truman miniseries, referencing Katar having to "sweat" out his addiction while exiled on the Isle of Chance.  

Ultimately this leads to the finale, where Katar, Shayera, and Count Viper all do battle on the spirit realm.  In a remarkably strange bit of foreshadowing, Katar is a Hawk spirit (natch) while Viper is a Snake spirit (natch again); Shayera, who does not figure into the Messner-Loebs Avatar storyline, is a Wolf spirit.  In the end, everyone winds up back in the correct body, Count Viper is defeated, and the reunited lovers share a passionate embrace and kiss, rendered as a full page splash page by Steve Lieber (Jan Duursema having left the title by this point).

The final splash also features a farewell sign off from Ostrander, which is appropriate and well deserved.

With this reading, having the full weight of three years worth of, quite frankly, groundbreaking Hawkman stories as the build up, this final splash page really made me smile.  This is what I mean above when I said that Ostrander ties a bow on Katar and Shayera. We, as readers, could put blinders on right there on the last page of issue 6 and live our lives believing that Katar and Shayera lived happily ever after.  

I was immediately reminded of a similar final splash page by Alan Davis in Excalibur #67, which was Alan Davis' last issue on the title, and similarly leaves all of the loose ends tied up in order to show us one last shot of our heroes as a farewell image.  The comparison continues, unfortunately, because much as Excalibur was radically overhauled started the next month, issue #7 of Hawkman begins the radical reinvention of Katar Hol, starting with the razing of Netherworld and then the removal of the Thanagarian trappings of the character in lieu of the Avatars.  It's one of the truths of American comics, especially at this point in the 1990s -- the show must go on.

Overall I thought that while, on the whole, these six issues served as a fairly good -- if rushed -- finale to John Ostrander's Hawkman and Hawkwoman saga, and does a good job of tying up the loose ends and closing that chapter on the characters.  the quality is, generally, a bit lower than Hawkworld, with a higher focus on action and some extreme new rogues (Airstryke, anyone?), but overall I still dug them and was glad to read them in such close proximity to Hawkworld.

Now, Annual #1... that's still a horse (or dog, if you prefer) of a different color.  From a technical standpoint, aspects of the story work a LOT better for me, specifically the timeline of when things are happening.  And considering when the Annual was released (the same day as issue #2, h/t to Mike at dcindexes.com), I am now of the opinion that John Ostrander may never have intended Mongrel to be anything more than a one-shot character.  And given than -- even though at the time of publication, Katar's identity was still a "mystery" -- Hawkman continually pleads with him to act rationally and look out for the innocent people around him, I wonder if the idea was not so much that Mongrel was supposed to be an anti-hero but perhaps a counterpoint sort of villain to someone like White Dragon.  White Dragon was a racist who spoke eloquently and had this facade of civility; Mongrel was a victim of racism who was all rage and histrionics.  So the parallel at least seems to be there on the surface.

This doesn't change the fact that Mongrel is a lousy character, but the idea of him being a "shade of grey" villain rather than an anti-hero makes him somewhat more plausible.  Annual #1 is still pretty rough going altogether, unfortunately.

All told, these opening salvos for Volume 3 are more of an Epilogue to Hawkworld than anything else.  And taken in that context, I can dig that.