Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Read: The Brave And The Bold #43

Issue: The Brave And The Bold #43 (Reprinted in Showcase Presents: Hawkman v.1)
Title: "The Masked Marauders Of Earth"
Published Date: Aug/Sep 1962
Generation: Silver Age Katar
Retcon Status: Out Of Continuity

Summary: In Midway City, an entire jewelry store is bizarrely stolen by even more bizarre thieves: giant hawks wearing vaguely humanoid masks who shoot beams from their eyes.  The store is returned, but with two large rubies missing.  Police Commissioner Emmett contacts Hawkman on Thanagar, who recognizes the thieves as the Manhawks, a roving band of criminals who introduced the concept of theft to Thanagar years earlier.  This new rash of crimes -- Thanagarians committed thefts for the sheer thrill of it -- forced Katar Hol's father Paran Katar, to turn his anti-gravity belt and artificial wing inventions (originall devised to study birds) in the tools of combat.  Katar used his father's invention and infiltrated the Manhawks, then stole one of their masks and reverse-engineered it's weapon, developing a counter-measure: the Hawk helmet, complete with shields against the Manhawks' eyebeam attacks.  Rendering their weapons ineffective, the Manhawks were quickly put in prison, but the damage had been done; crime was now on Thanagar, and thus Paran's inventions were used to arm the new police force.

The Hawks make their way to Earth, armed with the same counter-measure Katar had used earlier against the Manhawks.  But, their foes have deduced this one, and their eyebeams are now resistant to the Hawks weapons.  Planning to strike at Thanagar, the Hawks probe their Earth history, and figure out that rubies are needed to make a laser beam.  They attack the Manhawks ship, then use a black chemical rain to negate the Manhawks' eyebeams (not having enough light to properly amplify, the attacks are not very dangerous).  The Manhawks are captured and imprisoned on Earth.

Review: The second feature-length Hawk adventure in a row is as good as the previous one.  We get more great Katar and Shayera interaction, a crazy new set of villians, and more Thanagarian backstory, which is always welcome.  Plus, this story will always be remembered as the case on which Hawkman earned his Honor Wings, and regained his classic winged helmet look.  There's some typically murky Silver Age Science going on, but the story is fun enough that you roll with it, which has been my experience with such SAS so far in reading DC's from the period.  The Manhawks would eventually return a couple more times to menace Katar and Shayera during the Silver and Bronze Age, and would be re-imagined in a substantially more gruesome manner in the Hawkworld series.  Really fun DC science fiction tale.

Image: The Brave And The Bold #43, 1962, Joe Kubert.


Anonymous said...

You know, I love the Thanagarian elements of this story, and I love the interaction between the Hawks, but something about it just leaves me cold. I suppose it is the Manhawks themselves. They just don't care the narrative weight for me that they should as villains. Their look isn't distinct enough, although their gimmick, as thrill thieves, is interesting. I think that, reinvisioned to be more humanoid and hi-tech, they could be a much more plausible threat.

Unknown said...

I was 11 when this issue appeared, and enjoyed it immensely.

I also think it may be the very first mention of lasers in comic books. I don't know of any earlier mentions. Remember the footnote well, which explained what laser stood for (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation)