Friday, October 17, 2008

Read: The Brave And The Bold #42

Issue: The Brave And The Bold #42 (Reprinted in Showcase Presents: Hawkman v.1)
Title: "The Menace of the Dragonfly Raiders"
Published Date: Jun/Jul 1962
Generation: Silver Age Katar
Retcon Status: Out Of Continuity

Summary: Katar and Shayera return to Thanagar to report to the Chief of Police, Andar Pul.  After debriefing the couple on what they have been up to and what they have learned on Earth (allowing for a recap of previous adventures, including with Byth, who is in prison, and the Matter Master), he gives them some time off.  Soon they discover that Thanagar is being victimized by tiny thieves who ride dragonflies, and bizarrely use Terran criminal methods.  Soon it gets even stranger as it is revealed that the tiny thieves are actually robots, and the dragonflies commit the crimes themselves!

Katar suspects that somehow Byth, who had previously ingested a formula to change his shape at will, is behind the crimes, but he appears to be still incarcerated.  Stuck without a new lead, the Hawks pay a visit to the Veil of Valmoora, which is where Katar and Shayera first met years ago.  On that case, the rookie Shayera saved the older and more experienced Katar's life, which helped create the bond between the two of them.  Inspired by her memories, Shayera devises a plan to bring the robbers into the open by displaying a "gem tree" the dragonfly raiders can't resist.  The raiders do as suspected, and the Hawks trail them by following the trace radioactivity planted on the gems.  They discover that Byth is behind the crimes, having had the necessary elements for his formula smuggled in on envelopes.  A furious battle begins, with the raiders changing into all sorts of strange alien creatures.  It the end it comes down to Hawkman and Byth, who has changed into a Mirage Bird, which is able to create a falsh duplicate image of itself.  Katar is able to outwit Byth, and the mastermind is once more locked up -- this time without access to envelopes.  For his bravery in solving the crime, Katar Hol is awarded the Honor Wings, which are permanantly attached to his helmet.

Review: We get a lot of Thanagar in this issue, the first full-length Hawkman story since the character was revived in 1961.  Although I do wonder why there was a year between Hawkman stories?  Did they want to retool him into being a straight space hero with adventures on Thanagar, perhaps?  I don't know.  The addition of the Honor Wings brings the costume back full-circle to the original, Golden Age look, as well as the look that most fans think of when they think of Hawkman.  The team of Fox and Kubert are very easy to read on the Hawks, this story included.  The extra legnth allows them some time to play around and add details which are appreciated, including the "meet cute" of our couple.  I really enjoyed the history between Katar and Shayera and the explanation for the wing harnesses.  And it's good to see Matter Master again, even if it is a flashback.

Image: The Brave And The Bold #42, 1962, Joe Kubert.  


Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is the kind of writing and art that shows you just how great this concept was. It is a bit limited, as you would expect from a mag in that decade, but still holds together pretty well. We get some interesting bits of characterization between Carter and Shayera, with her inadvertently saving his life and the interplay between them. We get some good action as the Hol's take on the gang, using their skill to make up for the creatures' strength. Man, this is just a plain good comic.

Luke said...

The "meet cute" as I called it has been one of my favorite segments so far of the Silver Age stories. Having just celebrated my one year anniversary with my wife, the idea of a married superhero couple really appeals to me.

Beyond that, the Thanagar stuff showed that they work equally well in a "straight" sci-fi setting, which of course would become the norm twenty years later.