New comics don't come out until Friday this week, thanks to the holidays this week and last, but I figured I would post them today anyway as it is going to be hard for me to get them up later in the week. (Wow, 2009 already!)
Final Crisis Secret Files #1 -- I'm not sure if Hawkman has a role in this anthology or not, but since he has now shown up in the main title, he could be in here. This book looks interesting anyway, at least from the preview pages we have seen focusing on Libra. Hawkgirl shows up on the first page if nothing else!
Justice Society of America #22 -- This one is a safe bet. "In The Name Of Gog" bows here, and while I have several predictions about what will go down, one thing I have learned on this title is that the unexpected often happens. So I am just going to wait and see.
Trinity #31 -- Hawkman has been a regular in the backups, so I imagine he has a good shot of appearing here. Trinity is a title which I cannot justify buying, but looks so darn neat that I am tempted quite frequently.
Issue: Flash Comics #9 (Reprinted in The Golden Age Hawkman Archives v.1) Title: "The Creatures From The Canyon" (suggested title) Published Date: Sep 1940 Generation: Golden Age Carter Retcon Status: Out Of Continuity (A lot of this is way out there.)
Summary: George, a friend of Carter Hall, is on his way to visit his friend when a pair of strange creatures emerge from the sea and kidnap him. The creatures, called Kogats, read George's mind and go tokidnap Carter Hall, only to run into Hawkman instead. Saying they will kill George unless he cooperates, Hawkman is taken under the sea by the Kogats, by way of a clear helmet which lets him breath underwater. Hawkman is brought before the towering King Jupo, who uses a hard light gun to vaporize George. Jupo boasts that with this weapon, he will conquer the surface world, and then throws Hawkman down a deep chasm from which no one can escape.
At the bottom of the chasm, Hawkman winds up running into the god Poseidon, who grants him the abiity to breathe underwater as well as giving him the knowledge on how to beat the Kogats. By placing an unusual rod at the "needle of rock" underneath the Kogats' cavern, Hawkman causes their entire city to collapse, ending their threat forever. Poseidon tells Hawkman to come and see him again sometime, as he can now breathe underwater, while Hawkman muses that while some ships may have been sunk when he destroyed the Kogats' cavern, it was worth it.
Review: Wow, this is a strange one. It starts off simple enough, with the undersea civilization set to invade the surface world (like all good undersea civilizations are apt to do), then takes a hard right turn halfway through and pretty much turns into an Aquaman story! Not really sure what Fox had in mind with this one. The main strength and appeal of the issue is Moldoff's art, which really shines. There's a few panels which are downright breathtaking, including a close up of the hulking King Jupo which really stands out. An interesting feature begins in this issue: the "Weapons of the Past" stamp, which is the final panel of the story, illustrating an ancient weapon which Hawkman might use. In this case, it is a Whip Mace. This feature would continue on and off for a while in Hawkman's solo adventures.
Just in time for Christmas (that is, waiting for me when I returned from New York!) is the Hawkman Companion, from TwoMorrows Publishing. Now, I've blogged about this book before, so you guys know the skinny. But I actually received this copy from Doug Zawisza, the author himself! So hopefully I will be able to spend some quality time with this tome (along with The Flash Companion, a Christmas gift from my wife) in the next few weeks and give all of you readers the down low. From first impressions, this book looks like a tremendous resource for any Hawkfan, filled with interviews and articles, and plenty of great artwork.
Thanks, Doug! I'll be adding your name to the hallowed list of those who have earned the Honor Wings!
Just in time for Christmas, we do have a couple of Hawkman-related comics coming out this week. And yes, this post is earlier than normal!
Rann-Thanagar Holy War #8 -- The series bows here, which means I can start combing the solicitations for the trade paperback. I don't know if we will get it in one volume or two, or what, but it should be interesting to see what Starlin is doing with Carter/Katar, and if that get resolved or is left as a big ole dangler.
Trinity #30 -- Hawkman's appearances in the backups have been on and off, but mostly on from what I gather. Has DC made any announcement one way or the other on how this series will be collected? I'd like to read it but not if I can't get the backups.
Seek and ye shall find! In this month's issue of Previews, what is featured but a Hawkman logo t-shirt! From Graphitti Designs, who have been dressing nerds in nerd clothes for Lord knows how long! I probably don't need a second yellow comic book shirt (I already have the Reverse Flash one), but this is just too cool!
And for those who are more of the green variety, be sure to check out the other awesome logo shirt being solicited this month -- the Martian Manhunter (woo)!
Issue: Hawkman v.3:no.1 Title: "Winged Fury" Published Date: Sep 1993 Generation: Modern Katar Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: In Chicago, a new-look Hawkman swoops into action, first diffusing a hostage situation by snatching the armed hostage-taker off the roof he had holed up on, and then wiping out a group of gangbangers looking to hurt some pedestrians. Meanwhile, the city is abuzz with the return of Hawkman, who disappeared seven months earlier, but no one is sure who is behind the helmet. A reporter is on the scene in Netherworld, which was Katar one of Katar's old haunts. The reporter can't find much information, but soon the haven is invaded when the mercenary known as Deadline, a metahuman who can phase his body and is also armed with high tech weaponry including anti-grav discs, attacks the Netherworlders seemingly at random.
Seeing the attack on the television, Hawkman (in his civilian identity as a busboy), runs and leaps to his hideout (an abandoned church), dons his uniform, and streaks to Netherworld. When he engages Deadline, the mercenary tells Hawkman that he is the real target, and his benefactor wants to see who is under the helment -- by removing it from the Hawk's shoulders. Hawkman is able to damage Deadline's anti-gravs and knock the fight out of his opponent, who gives up the name of his client. As Hawkman flies away, Netherworld Feralyce asks him which Hawkman he is, to which the mysterious hero replies, "The current one."
Elsewhere, the Justice League dispatches Green Lantern Hal Jordan to get to the bottom of this new Hawkman's identity.
Review: Ahhh, the very first Hawkman comic book I ever purchased! Several months after Hawkworld ended, we were treated to this pretty big-time relaunch of Hawkman, complete with a new costume design, a flashy embossed foil cover, and a mystery of just which Hawkman we were reading about. Overall the effect is a positive one, as the comic itself holds up pretty well some 15 years after its publishing. The art its dated more by the paper and coloring technique than Duursema's pencils, which are appropriately kinetic. His look for Hawkman is very striking, especially the sweeping golden wings. Ostrander and Truman (who handled the script) tell a simple but effective story, and refamiliarize old readers and introduce new readers to some of the basic history of the character with a news report motif to help disguise the exposition. Another nice touch is the odd weaponry Hawkman uses, including a pair of nunchuks as well as three sorta-but-not-really Wolverine style claws on his left gauntlet. The oddest element is Hawkman's new speech patterns, which take on a psuedo-mystical tone about the spirits guiding him to his prey. For a debut issue, this is well done -- of course, in retrospect we know this direction wouldn't last too long, but it got off on a good step.
Issue: The Atom #7 (Reprinted in Showcase Presents: Hawkman v.1) Title: "The Case Of The Cosmic Camera!" Published Date: Jun/Jul 1963 Generation: Silver Age Katar Retcon Status: Changed Generations
Summary: Hawkman begins to notice that the migration patterns of various birds has suddenly changed. He is able to detect a strange radiation which is causing this odd behavior, and he and Hawkgirl decide to track it back to its source. The unusual radiation is also detected by Professor Ray Palmer, who regales his girlfriend Jean Loring with the science behind bird migratory patterns. But such pursuits must wait, as he is needed in his alter ego of the Tiny Titay known as The Atom! Atom is called in to help catch a group of thieves who use hot air balloons to escape silently in the night. Hawkman runs into the Atom as he is preparing to stop the crooks and the two decide to join forces. They are able to group the thieves, who are arrested by the Ivy City police.
Hawkman then finds the source of the radiation: a strange device called the Cosmitron, which resembles an ordinary camera. The Cosmitron is able to absorb seismic energy, and then produce pictures which are seismically charged; any damage done to a picture taken by the Cosmitron will effect the subject as well! Ancient beings known as the Thalens are enacting a plan to use the Cosmitron to conquer the Earth. Unable to get past their defenses, Hawkman calls upon his new ally to slip past the Thalens and steal the Cosmitron. The device out of the Thalens' hands, the two heroes out-punch their foes, and Atom renders the device inoperable. Later, a chance meeting between Professor Palmer and Ms. Loring with visiting Midway City Museum Curator Carter Hall and his wife Shiera leave both heroes with an odd sense of familiarity, but they decide it's just coincidence.
Review: The first team-up of Hawkman and the Atom! That alone makes this story worth reading. It's also worth noting that we sort of get a team-up of Jean Loring and Shiera Hall as well, for you fans of the ladies. While this is a feature length story, it reads more like two seperate adventures teaming the two heroes up. Beyond that, this is also the first time we see Hawkman as depicted by Gil Kane, and it's a good look. Clearly this is an Atom story guest starring Hawkman, as we get a look at how much of a hardcore nerd Ray Palmer really is. I mean, you can pretty much see Jean yawning as she feigns interest in the detailed explanation he gives her about bird migratory patterns. But, that's The Atom for you. Neither the thieves nor the Thalens make for much of a threat, and the Cosmitron is pretty bizarre even by the standards of the era, but a lot of the story revolves around the team-up, which was immensely satisfying to me. I like seeing Hawkman and The Atom team-up! A fun and historically significant issue, the latter of which is rare for either of these heroes given their "second tier" status.
That is, which of Hawkman's classic depictions is the "definitive" version of the character?
When a character has been around for as long as Hawkman, there inevitably are different takes and interpretations which come along. In the realm of DC Comics, the very nature oftheir history gives rise to multiple versions -- Golden Age versions, Silver Age versions, post-Crisis versions, post-post-Crisis versions, and so on and so forth. And Hawkman is no different.
Now, for most characters, coming up with what Dan DiDio calls the "definitive" version of the character is pretty straight-forward. The main line version of, say, Green Lantern is a guy with an alien power ring which can't effect yellow (whether this is Hal Jordan or John Stewart or whomever), while the main version of The Flash wears a red suit and yellow boots and has a lightning bolt on his chest. The have been the lasting, "real" versions of these characters for fifty years -- the earlier versions are valid, but not the mainstream definition. Characters who have changed a lot over the years still typically have one version which stands out. A great example is Supergirl; of the myriad versions of the character introduced after Crisis on Infinite Earths, "Superman's cousin" is the most well-known take. This is not a value judgement (I was and still am a big fan of the Matrix Supergirl), but a statement of familiarity and timelessness; Supergirl is Superman's cousin.
Hawkman is something of an abberation (beyond being a member of the Abberant Six...). For many years, pretty much from the early 1960s straight through the turn of the century, Hawkman was an alien police officer fighting crime on Earth. The older version -- the modern reincationation of an Egyptian Prince -- was still kicking it around as an alternate, but for the most part the charcter was the Space Cop archetype. Of course, this was not entirely cut and dried, as within the Space Cop motif we had two drastically different approaches -- the Silver Age version with his classical fantasy look, or the post-Crisis (that is, Hawkworld), modernist take with his metallic wings and militarisitc uniform. Both versions, again, are valid. The main difference between the two versions is the underlying theme: the Silver Age Hawkman was a police officer from a Utopian planet, while the Hawkworld Hawkman hailed from a Dystopian planet. So the question is how do you like your Thanagar?
Speaking unscientifically, it seems that the Dystopian Hawkman is more in line with what readers identified as the definitive Hawkman. For one thing, the totaltarian background better speaks to Hawkman's "my way or the highway" mentality. And, I suppose, an imperfect Thanagar is more compelling than a perfect one. So, it seems that the Space Cop archetype (specifically the Dystopian Space Cop version) makes a play at being definitive. of course, that's relative, as Hawkman became so mixed up and muddled due to all of this revision that DC basically stuck him off into limbo in the late 90s.
Enter James Robinson and Geoff Johns, co-writers of DC's successful 2002 JSA revival. And you can't do the Justice Society without Hawkman, so in the second year of the title, they brought him back. And, keeping with this being the Justice Society, they went back to the Egyptian Prince motif, ditching the Space Cop trappings for the most part (while Thanagar still played a big role). And this new take not only brought the character back into the spotlight, it made him popular enough to get his own title once again, while continuing to figure strongly in JSA. Suddenly Hawkman was more prominent and popular than he had been in years -- but now he was an Egyptian Prince, not a Space Cop. And for a whole new generation of Hawkfans, this became the "definitive" version of the character, now steeped in history and reincarnation myth instead of sci-fi and high tech. And, this take on the character re-aligned his appearance with the classic Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age style, which was abandoned during Hawkworld and slowly inched back towards through the 1990s. So, for all intents and purposes, DC had achieved their goal, and Hawkman was back.
At least, it looked that way, until this year when Jim Starlin introduced doubt once more -- a dangling plot point which has not yet been resolved at this time.
So that leaves us where we began: what is the definitive version of Hawkman? The reincatnated Egyptian Prince? The winged sleuth from the advanced alien civilization? The tough as nails Wingman of a totaltarian state? It's hard to say at this point. I think the attempt in Zero Hour to combine all of the various versions into one merged Hawkman had some promise, but ultimately failed to satisfy much of anybody. I think it's safe to say that the definitive look of the character is the bare chest and feathered wings as opposed to the more modern designs. But regarding what version of the character hits this mark is more complex. I believe that the two Space Cop versions hold what most fans consider the definitive elements; further, both satisfy the concept of the definitive version being easy to explain. But the work of Robinson and Johns to update the original version should not be ignored or discounted. So what is the "definitive" take of Hawkman? Sorry, but your opinion is as good as mine. Hawkman is a character with many flavors and varieties, and that probably is not going to change any time soon.
Here is one I have been waiting for: Mattel's DCUC Hawkman. Amazingly enough, though I have purchased several toys in this line for other people, I do not own any of them for myself. It looks like this is going to change once Wave 6 comes out, featuring the Winged Wonder here. The rest of the Wave includes Captain Marvel, Killer Moth (!), Mister Miracle (with a Doctor Impossible variant), and Mullet Superman (with Black Suit variant). The Build-A-Figure is Kalibak The Cruel, of all people.
Other upcoming DCUC toys tied to the Hawk mythos include The Atom in Wave 5 (though I am not sure if it is Ray Palmer or Ryan Choi), Dr. Fate both modern and classic, modern Hawkgirl, and Gentleman Ghost, all in Wave 8. JSA teammate Mr. Terrific is also scheduled for that Wave.
Looks like it will be toy hunting season next year! Oh well!
Issue: Flash Comics #8 (Reprinted in The Golden Age Hawkman Archives v.1) Title: "The Sunspot Wizard" (suggested title) Published Date: Aug 1940 Generation: Golden Age Carter Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: Professor Kitzoff, an inventor, has created a machine which can cause sunspots to flare, altering the way they influence people and objects on Earth. After the Professor uses his beam to crash a plane, Hawkman investigates. At first the Professor lies to him, saying it is just a high powered searchlight, but Hawkman sees through it and destroys the device. Kitzoff shoots Hawkman in retaliation, and has his body boxed and packed up to experiment on. Our hero is not dead, however, just stunned, and is able to escape. In the meantime, Kitzoff relocates to South America and builds a new version of his sunspot device. Arming himself with a Norman-era mace, Hawkman tracks the Professor and once more destroys the device. In the fracas afterwards, Kitzoff is shot and killed by his own men by accident.
Review: Most notably about this Fox/Moldoff story is that this is the first time we see Hawkman use what would become his signature weapon, the mace (although technically I suppose this a flail). There's also the incredibly goofy image of Hawkman flying around in the coffin, with his wings sticking out of the box. All in all this is a pretty average Golden Age superhero story, though Moldoff's art is still appealing and seeing the mace in action is always nice.
Between the holiday and work-related travel, I haven't had a chance to go to the comic shop in a few weeks, so there should be some nice Hawk-related stuff coming out. Here's what's on tap for this week.
Final Crisis #5 -- Earth has pretty much gone to hell in this series, with Darkseid and his evil New Gods reborn and controlling the entire planet. So where is Hawkman? I suppose he might be out in space dealing with the Rann-Thanagar Holy War, but hopefully he will make an apperance here.
JSA v.3: Thy Kingdom Come HC -- Now this is one I can easily say has Hawkman in it. Because I own the issues in question! Geoff Johns announced that he was leaving JSA after the Black Adam storyarc which follows after the Gog saga, but we can still enjoy his work, especially in revitalizing the Winged Wonder.
Trinity #28 -- Hawkman has been one of the regularly recurring heroes in the backups of this title, so there is a chance he will pop up here this week.
Issue: Rann-Thanagar War #1-6 (Collected in Rann-Thanagar War TPB) Published Date: Jul 05-Dec 05 Generation: Modern Carter Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: A rogue Rannian uses an advanced Zeta Beam to transport the entire planet of Rann into orbit around Polaris, in the same solar system as Thanagar. The gravitational changes caused by Rann's new presence alters Thanagar's orbit, turning the planet into an inhsopitable hell. Despite efforts by the Rannians to rescue the citizens of Thanagar, war soon breaks out between the rival planets, drawing various allies and mercenaries into the fray as well. Rannian hero Adam Strange rides a Zeta Beam to Earth and retrieves Hawkman and Hawkgirl from St. Roch to help ut an end to the conflict. But there is a greater threat on the horizon: the Thanagarian Cult Of The Seven Devils has resurrected the evil god Onimar Synn, a towering force of terror with a body composed of Nth metal who feeds on death. The growing crisis also draws the attention of the Guardians of Oa, who dispatch Green Lantern Kyle Raynor to the sector.
The already intense battle quickly escalates. Onimar Synn uses his vast powers to animate an army of dead Thanagarians, sending them throughout the galaxy to get ahold of a Zeta Beam. Tamaranian Queen Komand'r (Blackfire) forges an alliance with the essentially deposed Thanagarian government as a power-grab, and the "traitor" Shayera Thal (Hawkwoman) escapes execution to help our heroes. Synn intends to use the Zeta Beam to transport himself anywhere in the galaxy, spreading his cult and increasing his power off the charts. In the end, Adam Strange, Alanna, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Captain Comet, and Tiggor of the Omega Men use miniature Zeta Beam devices to teleport parts of Synn to the centers of seven different suns. The price, however, is great, as Hawkwoman is killed in the line of duty.
The threat of Synn is overcome, but the galaxy is still in peril: Komand'r now controls the Thanagarian battle fleet, and a mysterious tear in the fabric of space has appeared...
Review: I am tempted to call this DC's answer to Marvel's Annihilation, except this series sorta came first. Still, the stories are pretty similar, with lots of characters and planets being juggled around as a modern space opera. Dave Gibbon's story has lots going on -- this easily could have been twelve issues -- and is written in a condensed style which does lead to some flipping back and forth to remind yourself of certain elements. Still, it's a grand tale of war, alliances, and betrayl, helped out tremendously by Ivan Reis' meticulously detailed pencils and the bold coloring choices of John Kalisz, which illustrate the conflict in strong shades of reds, oranges, and yellows.
The main downfall is the unfinished nature of the story. Between the cliffhanger with Komand'r, and then the 500-pound gorilla of Infinite Crisis, the result is like the ending of a big popcorn movie being spoikled by the setup for the sequel. And while Thanagar and its culture play a main role, the Hawks themselves are primarily supporting characters. This is an Adam Strange story (appropriate, as this series is predicated on the Planet Heist series) featuring Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Hawkwoman. Still, even with these faults, Rann-Thanagar War is a fun sci-fi book. Not really all that deep, but if you like the characters involved, you will probably be satisfied with the read.
(Silver Age fans will no doubt recognize that the idea of Rann being teleported into a different solar system and threatening a planet is a reference to the classic Hawkman-Adam Strange team-up in Mystery In Space #90 , "Planets In Peril," which featured Rann's presence around Sol threatening both it and Earth.)
Well, yeesh, that was pretty bad, wasn't it? I had intended to make some updates last week, but obviously, that did not end up working out. My wife and I returned from visiting her family on the Sunday after Turkey Day, and then I turned around on Monday and flew to beautiful San Jose, CA for a business trip. Imagine my surprise when the hotel we were staying at was charging a fee for Internet access! How very 90s! So, needless to say, no updates, but we should be back on track this week. Sorry for the delay!