A day early, yes, and a short list as well, but let's take a look at what Hawk-related merchandise we can find at our local comic shops this week.
Wednesday Comics #4 -- The Hawkman strip by Kyle Baker is featured again this week as DC's summer series rolls on. I said last week that I wasn't sure about Baker's style and the character of Hawkman, and I am still unconvinced. But, the third page of the story really sold me on the strip, and now I am very much looking forward to what he has in store for us this week.
Last week's page pushed the envelope in terms of the fluidity of the action as well as the insanity of the story, placing both feet squarely in a sort of neo-Silver Age mentality which plays perfectly on newsprint. The details still look worried over, but the broad strokes -- the characters, how they are positioned and how the panels tell the story -- are quite nicely executed.
Part of the more subtle appeal of Wednesday Comics as I have read is the mixing and matching of creators on project that seem obvious (the Kuberts on Rock) or head-scratching (Pope on Strange Adventures), and Baker's Hawkman falls into that latter category for me. And while it is not the first choice I would have made, Baker's depiction of the Thanagarian hero is growing strongly on me and I am glad I stuck with it.
Issue: Showcase #103 Title: "Adventures on Other Worlds" Published Date: Aug 1978 Generation: Silver Age Katar Retcon Status: In Continuity/Changed Generations (This is a guess for all three issues... I suppose Carter and Shiera could have taken part in this adventure instead of Katar and Shayera?)
Summary: Hopping a space-warp to Thanagar, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Adam Strange, Alanna, and Sardath find themselves in the middle of another space battle, this one with the Thanagarian fleet defending against the small force from Rann. Adam ejects from the ship to draw fire, also drawing Hawkman's anger but allowing him to land the ship at the Veil of Valmorra. While Hawkgirl and Alanna set up the base camp, Hawkman sets out to find Andar Pul, their commanding officer.
Hawkman finds the metropolis of Thanaldar eeriely empty -- and then finds himself attacked by Man-Hawks! Katar is able to quickly outwit his foes, who are screeching about Wingmen being under a curfew, using volcanic ash to blind them and escape. He is not done yet, however, as he quickly runs into a pair of monsters walking the streets! Knowing he can't waste time, he slips away, too late to see that they are shapeshifters, including the Thanagarian criminal Byth. Katar finally gets to Andar's apartment and learns the story -- as Thanagar suffered under the Equalizing Plague, a savior come from the skies: the former Justice League foe Hyathis. After she was able to cure the plague, she was quickly placed in charge of the entire planet, and with Thanagarian custom stating that all shall follow their leaders without question, she soon had deputized Thanagar's criminals (including summoning the Shadow-Thief from Earth to lead her person bodyguards, the Shadow Squad) and turned the Wingmen into an army! Disgusted, Katar leaves, but Andar is compelled to turn him into his supreme leader.
Hawkman wings back to camp, just as Adam Strange staggers in, having figured out Kanjar Ro's plan -- by using short range teleportation, Ro intends to assassinate Hyathis and conquer the planet without full scale battle. Armed with this knowledge, the 5 heroes set off and follow the same strategy as they did on Rann, running the gauntlet through each obstacle until only Hawkman is left to reach Hyathis' throneroom. Just as Hawkman bursts through her guards, Kanjar Ro teleports in, but is unable to carry out his plan. Hyathis offers to honor the Hawks, but they reject her; in turn, they are exiled to space with nothing but their spaceship.
Review: The Showcase event closes in appropriately game-changing manner, as we have a new status quo for the Hawks and a new over-arcing evil for them to fight against (this statement also seems to apply to Adam and Alanna as well!). While it is pretty contrived, the fanboy in me smiles at the fact that Hyathis pulled in three classic Hawk baddies to help fill out her forces. Plenty of action and crazy visuals, and Al Milgrom does a good job of rendering all of it in a nice, not too flashy style. As a whole, I really enjoyed this story. It's a big grand space opera, which suits Katar and Shayera just perfectly, with plenty of aliens and space travel and bizarre sci-fi weapons. I don't think they had enjoyed such a "big" adventure previously, and teaming them up with Adam and Alanna is always fun. I was not aware of these Bronze Age Hawk stories before I picked up Showcase #101, but now I am definitely on the hunt for the rest of their 1970s adventures (in Detective Comics but mostly in World's Finest). This is one set which will be reread in the future.
In Comic Book Resources' article talking to Joe and Adam Kubert about their exceedingly cool Sgt. Rock strip from Wednesday Comics, we find this juicy little tidbit:
CBR: We've talked about your history with the character. Do you love coming back to work on Sgt. Rock, whenever you get a chance?
Joe Kubert: Once I really concentrate on a character, if it's on my table that's what I'm working on, I have a tendency to block out everything else. For instance, I just finished a Hawkman cover. And I'm doing a Hawkman story for a book that I'm going to be editing and putting out from DC. So right now, it's all Hawkman.
CBR: Can you tell us anymore about that Hawkman project?
JK: Well the cover I'm doing is actually a request from [DC editor] Wil Moss, who is working on something with Hawkman, Superman and some other heroes. The Hawkman story I'm doing is for one of a series of books that I'm doing for DC. It's going to be a 48-page anthology and I'm going to have guys like Sam Glanzman and people of that ilk, who are going to be working on it with me. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm going to be writing, drawing, editing. I'm putting together this book for DC and it's going to be called, the tentative title anyhow, "Joe Kubert Presents." My purpose of it is to put out the kind of book, I like to read.
It's going to be six issues and we probably won't see the first one until I finish at least four of them so I don't trip over my own feet as far as deadlines are concerned. I would guess it would probably be out some time next year.
With apologies to Perry White, Great Caesar's Ghost! Kubert working on a Hawkman story, well, that's just awesome in and of itself. But the project he describes, a 48 page Hawkman anthology, with various artists working on it, that sounds jaw-dropping. (Sam Glanzman, for those who don't know, is an old school artist, best known to me for his work on the various War comics he worked on over the years, including the classic "Lonely War of Willy Schultz" feature over at Charlton. Would it be too much to hope for Shelly Moldoff?!) Really makes you wonder who else would fall under the "Joe Kubert Presents" headline -- Rock? Tor? Viking Prince? Definitely need to keep my ear to the proverbial ground with this series.
Kubert, of course, was the first and (along with Murphy Anderson) the definitive Silver Age Hawkman artist, so the idea of him doing a cover for a new series/story/feature with Hawkman in it suggests to this Silver Age-addled fanboy that somehow, someway, Katar Hol is coming back. I am not really familiar with Wil Moss, but maybe we will hear more about this this week out in San Diego?
In any event, no matter what develops or transpires for the Winged Wonder in the current DCU, it is always great to see one of his most beloved creators taking another shot at him. I'm champing at the bit wanting information now.
Does this Wednesday bring any new Hawk-related merchandise to the shelves of everyone's LCS? Let's find out.
Green Lantern #44 -- This issue promises a showdown between three of the founding members of the Justice League, except that one of them is a super-powered space zombie. Given the events of Blackest Night #1, Hawkman and Hawkgirl could pop up in this issue, but I don't think they will.
Wednesday Comics #3 -- Kyle Baker's Hawkman strip continues this week, along with all of the other Sunday Funnies-inspired strips. I haven't had much to say about this strip, mostly because we have only gotten two pages of it and it's hard to make much of a critique from seeing only 1/6th of the final product. But I do have some impressions.
I am not really sure that Baker is suited to the Hawkman character. I like his cartoony style, such as on Plastic Man, a lot more than this psuedo-photorealist style he is using for Hawkman. Everything looks labored over and over-rendered. To me, photorealism is better when it looks non-chalant. I point to what Dave Sim is doing over in glamourpuss while teaching himself to draw in the Alex Raymond style. That doesn't look labored over (even though it sorta kinda is), and certainly not over-rendered.
That having been said Baker showed off in the second page a good sense of dynamic motion, a trait which I have said over and over on this blog is important to depicting the Hawks. He also has a good voice for the character, who tells a group of skyjackers that they will soon envy their friends who have fallen to their doom. As I said, it's still too early to pass judgement, but despite my reservations I think this strip will turn out pretty good in the end.
Taking a break from the Hawk-talk here to talk about something a little more important. Longtime comics scribe and all around cool guy John Ostrander is battling glaucoma, and if he loses that battle, one of the comic book world's best writers will lose his eyesight.
On August 8, 2009, at the Chicago Comic-Con, a group of comic creators, friends, and family of Mr. Ostrander are holding a silent auction to raise money to cover the medical bills associated with his Glaucoma Filtration surgery. Any monies raised beyond his costs are going to be donated to The Hero Initiative.
Even if you (like me) won't be in Chicago in August, you can still donate by heading over to Comix4Sight.com.
Ostrander helped essentially create an era of Hawkman's history as the writer of the Hawkworld regular series. He also worked on the third volume of Hawkman, and lots of other titles anyone reading this sight has no doubt enjoyed, including Suicide Squad, Magnus, Robot Fighter, Heroes For Hire, Star Wars, The Spectre, Firestorm, X-Men, Quicksilver, and plenty others.
Please head on over to Comix4Sight.com and donate some money to help out. The comics industry needs to help take care of their own and this is one way we can all help.
This post contains SPOILERS for Blackest Night #1. You have been forewarned!
Well, looks like DiDio, Johns, and company were not lying when they said "wait for Blackest Night #1" in regards to the fate of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Certainly all spelled out there on the page. My friend Adama of Dispatches From The Arrowcave sent me a message on Wednesday which read, in part, "You may not like Blackest Night #1..." and while I see where he was coming from, I did enjoy this issue quite a bit.
Specifically as it relates to the Hawks, this is one hell of an exit. Their apparent death in Final Crisis was decent, but certainly not the spotlighted demise we get here. And this is an appropriate way to go out, honestly: Johns (along with David Goyers) was the one who brought Hawkman back from obscurity, so it is only appropriate that he be the one who sends him to the great beyond. Same with Kendra; though she was created before Johns got his hands on her, he was the one who helped define her character (for good or ill) and was the writer most associated with her. It seems only fitting that their curtain call be handled by the man who drove them to the dance and acted as chaperone.
Now, what does this mean going forward? Black Hand may have said that they will not escape death this time, and I think I believe him... to a degree. I believe that we have seen the last of this iteration of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, but not that the Winged Wonders will not soar again the future.
In my speculated theory, Carter Hall and Shiera Saunders -- that is to say, Prince Khufu and Princess Chay-era -- are reborn on the relatively new Earth-2. My thoughts on this date back to Infinite Crisis, also by Johns. When the "new" Earth-2 was created, all of those folks who "belonged" there were transported there. What location makes more sense for the immortal souls of the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl than Earth-2? Carter and Shiera will at some point have high flying adventures on that alternate Earth, either with or without the Justice Society Infinity. What I especially like about this is that it does not invalidate anything which has been done with the character since the 90s -- the entire run of Volume 4 as well as JSA is still valid, and nothing has to be retconned away like the majority of Hawkman's Silver Age stories were.
That takes care of Carter and Shiera, but what about Earth-1/New Earth/whatever? Here's where things get complex.
In the Hawkman Special, as we have talked about many many times before on this blog, Synnar tells Hawkman that the aspect of his personality that was Carter Hall was a lie, grafted onto him by the Infinite Crisis. And when this Hawkman was first resurrected, it was with Carter Hall's soul being reborn in Katar Hol's body, and Katar's soul eventually "drifted off." Well, now, Katar's body is a Black Lantern. Which says to me that Katar's soul will be able to either a) retake possession of his body at some point or b) be reborn into his own new body. This solves a lot of the problems with Hawkman insofar as he is now a much more streamlined character (Space Cop from Thanagar) while also a clean slate from a continuity standpoint.
I like this solution (unsurprisingly) because it lets both the Johns-style Egyptian Prince Hawkman exist while still giving us our Thanagarian Space Cop Hawkman to bounce around in the main universe (hopefully written by Jim Starlin). Of course, this is all just fan speculation, but it's clear to me that big things are coming down the pike for Hawkman, and that this is an exciting time to be a Hawkfan.
Today's sketch comes from Ty Templeton, who is well known in the comic book field for his work on "animated" style comics such as Batman Adventures and various titles for Bongo Comics. He also has done Mature Audiences woork such as his graphic novel Bigg Time, and first come to prominence for Stig's Inferno.
Our sketch isn't really a sketch per se -- more like a pin up page from The Superman-Batman Magazine (you can see additional pages from this magazine here and here). But that doesn't make it any less sweet. Adding to the sweetness is that this is clearly a post-Hawkworld Katar Hol-style Hawkman, and longtime readers will remember that the first Hawkman comic I ever purchased was Hawkman v.3:no.1. I especially like the lack of pupils inside the helmet, the broad chest, and the sleek metallic wings. The chin stubble really makes it for me. This dude is so bad he doesn't even shave!
Disclaimer: I do not own or have possession of this sketch. It is being reposted from the cited website only.
Issue: Showcase #102 Title: "Strange Adventures" Published Date: Jul 1978 Generation: Silver Age Katar Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Adam Strange arrive at Rann in time to witness a tremendous space battle against a Thanagarian fleet. Narrowly avoiding being shot down, Hawkman manages to touch down his ship in the wilderness outside of Ranagar -- losing the captive Shadow-Thief in the process. No sooner do they land then are they attacked by native Rannians with rayguns which can turn their foes into water! The battle is then joined by Adam's father-in-law Sardath and his band of Undergrounders, who managed to teleport the heroes and their ship away using modified Zeta Beam technology. Sardath tells Adam that his wife Alanna has been missing since Adam went on his mission and no one knows if she is alive or not.
At the palace in Ranagar, we find that Alanna is alive, and taken before the "Grand Deleon" of Rann -- none other than Kanjar Ro! After his last defeat at the hands of the Justice League, Ro reached out to various enemies of Rann and offered them an alliance so that together they would conquer the planet. They succeeded, and now Ro is using his newfound power to make war against Thanagar. Wanting to draw out Adam Strange, Ro makes an announcement that Alanna is going to be executed, prompting the heroes to attempt to rescue her. Adam Strange wants to rush headlong into combat, but Hawkman advises him to hold his horses and make a plan first.
Appropriately, the rescue mission for Alanna goes according to plan, as each alien race the heroes run into is effectively countered by their own weakness. Strange discovers Alanna imprisoned in a booby trapped tower, which Hawkman is able to smash his way into -- which sends Alanna and Strange falling after the explosion takes out his jetpack. Hawkman swoops down, reactivating Strange's pack and saving Alanna. With everyone free, the four heroes learn that the fight is not over yet, as Kanjar Ro has taken a fleet of ships to invade Thanagar.
Review: Continuing from the first installment, the first Rann-Thanagar War rages on, with all sorts of alien jokers thrown in the mix for good measure. Harris' story is interesting, with lots of stuff going on at once (although, a pretty common Bronze Age trait in my experience), and his script has some interesting touches too. For instance, several times this issue, Hawkman and Adam Strange become almost hostile towards one another -- the obvious result of having two headstrong Type A personalities in such a high-pressure situation. Hawkman at one point tells Adam straight out to "shut up," which made me laugh. Al Milgrom may not be Joe Kubert but he is darn good as a Hawkman artist. And that Kubert cover is pretty swanky too! All in all a very enjoyable Bronze Age romp which makes one want to immediately grab the next issue.
There is one confusing bit, dealing with how Thanagar was drawn into this conflict. The last issue gave the impression that Thanagar was the race which conquered Rann, when in fact they attacked the planet only after Kanjar Ro conquered it.
Blackest Night #1 -- We've been told to "wait for Blackest Night #1" for months now. Well, the waiting is over and I want to see what goes down for the Hawks! Plus, ya know, the fate of every other dead character in the DC Universe.
Wednesday Comics #2 -- I am hoping that this week's Hawkman strip is more exciting than the previous one. Of course, that would not be too hard to pull off considering. Hopefully once we get away from the absolutely dopey looking helmet depiction Baker came up with for the first page things will turn around.
Found this wallpaper while doing my routine search for new and exciting Hawkman imagery. There's no mistaking that this is Hawkman from Superfriends, with the extended, uh, thingys on his helmet and primary coloring. I have to say though, as few times as he appeared on the show, other than the elongated face of the helmet, Hawkman's animation model is pretty sweet.
The artist, one Mike Peters, has other wallpapers available, including others of this style for other Superfriends characters, including Aquaman, Flash, and Black Vulcan. Basic, yes, but I think it has a sort of goofy charm to it.
This is the third installment of the original Joe Kubert pages from Flash Comics #97 for your enjoyment and perusal, thanks to Doug Zawisza of the Doom Patrol blog. You can find the previous two installments here and here.
The Hawks engage the Zeta-Ray weilding thugs (careful, they'll send you to Rann!) and find they are more than they bargained for. I like the thug totally no-selling Hawkman's punch in the middle of the page, which is right up there with Shiera tossing the gooey seaweed on the guy's face two panels later. This is a good looking page, like the rest of the group. But I am a sucker for Joe Kubert so I am probably a little biased.
Image: Page 3 from Hawkman feature in Flash Comics #97, 1948, Joe Kubert, provided by Doug Zawisza.
Paul Smith is best known for his work on X-titles over the years, including handing the art chores on Uncanny in most of 1983. This is appropriate to me, as his work has always reminded me a little bit of Neal Adams, whose X-Men is, as far as I am concerned, the best that team has ever looked. He also did the superlative Golden Age miniseries, plus American Flagg!, and Nexus.
Now, THIS is how the Hawks can look dynamic and graceful without aping Joe Kubert! *coughcoughWednesdayComicscough* Hawkman looks powerful without being bulky, which is how he is normally portrayed nowadays. His helmet has nice texture and shape. Hawkgirl really looks great, too, with her flowing locks, rocking helmet, and athletic build. While I like cheesecake as much as the next guy, Hawkgirl, to me, is a character who should always have that trim build. But just because she's not voluptuious doesn't mean she's not sexy, though -- check out that figure! Homina homina homina!
I also like the wings being portrayed differently for each character, with Hawkgirl's wings looking like a pixie or fairy's wings almost. For some reason I also really like the taped wrists that Hawkman is sporting, like a prizefighter.
Disclaimer: I do not own or have possession of this sketch. It is being reposted from the cited website only.
Image: Hawkman and Hawkgirl sketches, ???, Paul Smith, posted from 11by17.com.
Found this adorable image from a thread over on the Comic Geek Speak message boards. You can see lots of superhero and science fiction characters in the Simpsons house style over at this page on io9. (Sorry, no Martian Manhunter. Or Green Arrow. But we do get two Aquamans.)
I can't get over how awesome Hawkman looks depicted ala Matt Groening. Even the helmet and mace look great.
What kind of Hawk-related swag can we expect to find at the comic shop this week? Let's take a look!
Green Lantern #43 -- The Prologue to Blackest Night. I imagine this will function like that issue of Justice League of America did the week before Final Crisis. Personally, I doubt that the Hawks will actually show up in this issue (save maybe a cameo), but I figure if this is the setup for the story which we have been told for months is going to sort out the Hawks' situation, then I want the whole story.
Wednesday Comics #1 -- DC's grand new experiment begins this week, and Hawkman is right there at the forefront. I'm still not sure if I am going to buy this entire series -- it's an extra expense, for one thing, and I don't know that I will have the ability to really enjoy these right now with the home-life being dominated by our infant son. But I want to support projects of this nature, as well as buying stuff with Hawkman in it. Kyle Baker's art has not appealed to me in the previews (especially compared to Karl Kerschl's awesome work on The Flash and Iris West, as seen on The Source), but I am hoping on the page it is more to my liking.
Picked this one up on the 3rd while visiting some comic shops in Greenville with my friend Adama, who was in town for an Independence Day party. One step closer to completing my run of Volume 4, the issues contained herein (#15-22) are the last consecutive bunch collected under the Hawkman moniker for a while. The next three are found over in JSA: Black Reign, then remains uncollected until issue #37. How biz-arre. Luckily, I have most of those in singles!
Image: Hawkman v.3: Wings Of Fury, 2005, Andrew Robinson.
ABSOLUTE JUSTICE, collecting the series from writer Jim Krueger, artist Doug Braithwaite and some guy named Alex Ross hits in November. And because we can never get too much Ross goodness, we've got the previously-unseen dustjacket from the collection, along with some character sketches that will also be in the Absolute.
Ross really seems to have a thing for the Hawks looking like, well, humanoid Hawks, as these sketches strongly remind me of his Hawk-headed Hawkman from Kingdom Come. Still, an interesting study for fully-armored (and feathered) pair of Winged Wonders.
You can see the uncropped image, which also features the Atom, Plastic Man, and some headshots of Flash and Red Tornado, here.
Image: Hawkman and Hawkgirl armor sketches, 2007? Alex Ross.