Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Read: Shadow War Of Hawkman #1

Issue: Shadow War of Hawkman #1
Title: "The Shadow War of Hawkman"
Published Date: May 1985
Generation: Silver Age Katar
Retcon Status: Out Of Continuity (I think?  Anyone have any thoughts?)

Summary: Small-time hood Mousey Mason returns to his tiny apartment to find himself surrounded by strange beings who "bleed in" from shadows.  They task him with retrieving certain items from the house of former Midway City Police Commissioner Emmett, now home to museum curators Carter and Shiera Hall -- namely, their anti-gravity flight devices!  

Meanwhile, Hawkman and Hawkwoman are beating up some thugs, and get the chance to run into new Deputy Police Commissioner Frasier.  The fight causes Katar thoughts to become mazed, thinking about how his father invented the flying harness, how he met his wife and partner, and how they travelled to Earth and became superheroes.  His thoughts then turn to the Equalizing Plague on Thanagar, and how the tyrant Hyathis usurped control of the planet.  But these thoughts are put on hold as the couple returns to the museum, and has to finish several exhibits opening in the morning, and have to deal with Mavis Trent and press secretary Joe Tracy.

But their work is soon interrupted by an alarm indicating trouble at their home.  Katar wings off to investigate while Shayera stays behind to work.  He is disturbed to find that the local birds are so scared they can't tell him about the break-in, but the Winged Wonder soon discovers Mousey inside, nosing around for the flight harnesses.  Mousey quickly gives up the whole story, and Hawkman is shortly thereafter ambushed by five of the shadow-hopping foes.  Hawkman is able to hold his own despite being outnumbered, but when Mousey attacks one of them, he is vaporized, leaving only a white silhouette against the wall.  The enemies beat a hasty retreat, flooring Katar with a sonic bomb.  

Hawkman rushes back to the museum, but he is horrified to realize that he is too late, finding a walled silhouette in the new exhibit of Hawkwoman, and no other trace of her.

Review: "The first battle in the invasion of Earth will be fought in the shadows."  With that sentence, a new era of Hawkman comics began.  And what a beginning it is -- with a cliffhanger like that, it was clear that Tony Isabella and Richard Howell were not interested in "business as usual" Hawkman comics.  This story builds upon everything which has come before, but essentially settles all of them before driving the proverbial dagger right in the ribs of our heroes.

This is a very strong debut issue both for the storyline (which would continue through this series and into Hawkman's second eponymous title) as well as the creative team, who both shine.  Isabella has an interesting voice for Hawkman, playing on the fact that he is an old man by Earth chronology.  But he never loses the character or his classic traits (I used "mazed" up there as a verb on purpose, hint hint).  Howell has a sort of Murphy Anderson look, but not really; I say that because his Hawks are trim and athletic like Anderson's rather than bulky or feathery.  He is a good fit for the shadow-drenched visuals in this comic, and he handles the human characters well also, including giving Mavis Trent a look straight out of Modern Rhymes-With-Witch Magazine.

Overall, fans looking to get their hands on some classic Hawkman outside of the boundaries of the Silver Age would be extremely well-served in picking up this issue and going from there.  Very strong across the board.

Image: Shadow War of Hawkman #1, 1985, Richard Howell.

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