Thursday, August 7, 2008
Read: The Brave And The Bold #34
Issue: The Brave And The Bold #34 (Reprinted in Showcase Presents: Hawkman V.1)
Title: "Creature of a Thousand Shapes!"
Published Date: Feb-Mar 1961
Generation: Silver Age Katar
Retcon Status: Out Of Continuity
Synopsis: Katar Hol and his wife Shayera, police officers on the planet Thanagar from the Polaris system, track the criminal Byth to Earth. Using their technology, they imprint all of the collected knowledge of humanity into their brains, equip themselves with anti-gravity Nth metal flying harnesses, meet up with Midway City police Commisioner George Emmett, and get established in their secret identities as Carter and Shiera Hall, curators of the Midway City Museum. Byth, a crook who commits his crimes for kicks, has stolen (and ingested) a formula which allows him to assume the shape of any creature he has seen. After several attempts to capture him, Byth faces down the Hawks as a large Thanagarian beast that resembles a dragon. Hawkman and Hawkgirl put an end to his spree by tricking him into swallowing their maces, which were filled with an anaesthetic, then exploting the beast's only weakness -- getting punched in both of its face at the same time. Byth defeated, Katar and Shayera decide to stay on Earth to study police methods and procedures.
Review: In line with the other DC Silver Age revivals, this story is pure science-fition, making no mention of anything historical save the weapons in the museum. All the trappings of the "classic" Silver Age status quo are established here -- the secret identity, the confidant who knows said secret identity, the home city, the main superpowers, the "romantic" interest (of sorts), and the motivation. Kubert's art is graceful and elegant, obviously best suited to the flying scenes. Fox is in his element, with a not entirely threatening but still entertaining villian in Byth, as well as the dunderheaded Mavis Trent, who hangs all over Carter despite the fact that his wife is his assistant. The Hawks are an impressive pair, really working as partners and not hero-sidekick, brandishing weapons such as maces, bows, and cestus. I never really figured that Shayera was side by side with Katar from the start, but that plainly is the case. Also, this is the first time I have ever read a story where Hawkman did not have his "Honor Wings;" it takes some getting used to from a visual standpoint. Shayera, however, looks as classic as ever. From this first story, it is not hard to see how the feature caught on at the time, with a fairly imaginitive backstory and the very attractive artwork.