Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Read: Brightest Day #13

Issue: Brightest Day #13
Title: "Under A Blood Red Sky"
Published Date: Nov 2010
Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera
Retcon Status: In Continuity

Summary: On Hawkworld, Hawkman and Tonarr lead a Lion-mane assault on Queen Shrike's Manhawk army.  Tonarr is trying to organize tactics in order to lay siege to the castle, but Hawkman is only concerned with one thing: finding Hawkgirl.  Inside, Shiera is taunted by Hath-Set, who looks forward to killing her once again.  Hawkgirl promises to kill Hath-Set and break the curse, and then deal with her mother, Queen Rhea, as well.  Rhea, now calling herself Queen Shrike, relates the story of the Thanagarian ship crashing in ancient Egypt, and how her husband the Pharaoh was not ambitious enough in his plans for the Nth Metal contained within.  So Rhea murdered him and made it look like a suicide, and then entered into a pact with Hath-Set, who foresaw a prophecy of immortality for them.  After the murders of Prince Khufu and Princess Chay-era, Rhea ruled for countless years.  Eventually she grew bored, and sought an adventure.  Finding the gateway to Hawkworld, she conquered it, and ruled from her floating palace.  Now, she tells her daughter, she seeks to spread her power further, and needs the portal Hath-Set created -- along with the "keys" of the bodies of Hawkman and Hawkgirl -- to achieve it.

Hath-Set moves to begin the ritual by nailing Hawkgirl to the bone portal, but he is interrupted by the furious entry of a bloodied and bruised Hawkman.  Hawkgirl snatches Hath with her legs and snaps his neck, while Hawkman throws himself at Queen Shrike.  But he finds himself in trouble since Queen Shrike can control Nth Metal with her mind!  And that's not all: she can also control anyone who has been in long proximity to the metal, including Hawkman and Hawkgirl!  Using her powers to stick Hakwman to the portal, she uses the lovers and Hath-Set's corpse (an unknowning pawn in Shrike's plan all along) to open the gateway, ready to spread her control to... Zamaron?

Review: A new wrinkle is added to the now-familiar history of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, but it is not an unwelcome one.  Queen Shrike is shaping up to be a strong addition to the Hawks' Roues Gallery, and her connection with the couple and their history slots her in nicely with other baddies such as Hath-Set and Gentleman Ghost.  The story is pretty straightforward (save for the twist at the end, although I guess the cover should have been a tell?), so the main star here is the art.  Creditted to Joe Prado, Ivan Reis, and Adrian Syaf, I am not sure who handled what pages but there are several splash pages which are simply amazing.  Two feature Hawkman's battle rage, while the third illustrates Shrike's narrative.  All are excellently rendered... I will see if I can scan them in.  Not all readers are as interested in the Hawks story as I am (and frankly I like all of the narrative plotlines of this series) but this is strong stuff, building on what has come before but moving in new directions as well.

Image: Brightest Day #13, 2010, David Finch.

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