Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Read: The Savage Hawkman #6

Issue: The Savage Hawkman #6
Title: "Open Graves"
Published Date: Feb 2012
Generation: New 52 Carter
Retcon Status: In Continuity

Summary: In Digby's Book Shop, Gentleman Ghost and Hawkman make their introductions, where Craddock tells Carter that it was he who arranged for him to get ahold of the old book detailing the Mortis Orb.  Craddock also claims that he sought out Carter because the Nth Metal will be drawn to the Orb.  Hawkman rejects this notion, and briefly engages the apparitions before grabbing Digby and busting through a window.  Hawkman interrogates Digby about where he got the book, and the terrified book seller tells him about Julius Gates, a supposed warlock who had lived in a strange mansion outside the city.  Hawkman (grabbing Digby by the collar) wings off to investigate.

Back at Carter's apartment, Emma comes looking for him, and meets Singh.  Both of Carter's friends are concerned for his safety and mental health.

At the dilapidated Gates mansion, Hawkman and Digby find Gates' blind widow, Abigail.  She tells Hawkman that her husband spent his life searching for the Mortis Orb, and was buried with it... and now he comes to visit her from time to time.  Thanking her, Hawkman and Digby head for the cemetery, where Hawkman starts digging up Gates' grave, thinking that the Orb can defeat the Gentleman Ghost, but also unsure as to why he cannot stop when he hears spirits crying out for him to stop.  He unearths Gates, and takes possession of the Orb.  

The Gentleman Ghost immediately pops up, and with him, the dead begin to rise from the earth as well.  Craddock tells Hawkman that the Orb can raise the dead, and it will bring him back to life forever -- at the cost of the life of every man, woman, and child for miles in all directions!  Craddock disappears, and Hawkman looks on in disbelief as a host of zombies shamble across the Brooklyn Bridge!

Review: The Nth Metal is becoming a story crutch, where things happen solely because of it without any explanation.  Why does Hawkman dig up Gates if he knows he shouldn't?  Is the Nth Metal controlling him?  Is the Gentleman Ghost manipulating it somehow?  It's very unclear from how Daniel and Bonny present it here.  Ghost says that the Metal possesses "energies and collective knowledge beyond this plane of existence," which is a great tease.  But I wonder if we will ever find out what the means, exactly?  

Further, the sequence in the Gates mansion makes me scratch my head.  How is this blind widow living by herself in this ruined old house?  And why does Hawkman not offer to help her or take her to get some help?  Instead he literally leaves her to die (Abigail actually says she will be back with her husband soon)!  What the heck?!

These oddities make it hard to really enjoy this issue.  I mean, I generally like the story and I like seeing the Gentleman Ghost match wits with the Winged Wonder.  But the details don't make sense and undermine the tale that Daniel and Bonny are telling.  I much would have preferred seeing Hawkman's motivation for getting the Mortis Orb be well intention but misguided, rather than "for some reason... I can't [stop]".  It's touched on briefly in a caption box where he says that he thinks the Mortis Orb can help him defeat Gentleman Ghost and his apparitions, but it seems too light.

Tan's art is still wonderful.  He really is in his element with all the shadows and ghosts and zombies.  The splash page of Hawkman charging through the field of apparitions is fantastic.  And the last page, showing the zombies slowly making their way across the Brooklyn Bridge, is an amazing cliffhanger image (not to mention a great homage to Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2).

Overall, I liked this issue quite a bit when I first read it, and it's still good.  I still like it, but the cracks in the story logic are irritating and it hurts my enjoyment overall.  The excellent cliffhanger helps, though, and it makes me want to get onto the next issue.

Image: The Savage Hawkman #6, 2012, Philip Tan.  

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