In honor of tomorrow's conclusion to Brightest Day, here's a look back Being Carter Hall's coverage of the series from the past year!
The Hawks are the Air Elementals, and you can catch the other three at the following blogs today: Fire Elemental: Firestorm Water Elemental: Aquaman Earth Elemental: Martian Manhunter!
Brightest Day is a twisting, turning, epic superhero tale. In an era where comic fanboys and fangirls are often found to bemoan "event fatigue" and the like, BD was an "event" which was not an event at the same time. Unfolding every two weeks, the various heroes and heroines in the title each had their own story, and while there was an overreaching plot regarding the White Lantern, most of the tales were there to demonstrate the quality, strength, and (dare I say it?) awesomeness of some of DC's second tier heroes. Hawkman and Hawkgirl had perhaps the most straightforward of all of the main features, and seeing their adventures was always the high point for me. But what red blooded DC fan doesn't like seeing Aquaman go toe to toe with the man who murdered his infant son? Or Firestorm bring it directly to the Anti-Monitor? Or Martian Manhunter recreate Mars -- only to lose it once again?
Geoff Johns is often accused of tearing characters down to tell his stories. This is not entirely accurate -- Johns does tear his characters down, but only to build them back up. Blackest Night was a series about horror and emotion, about the pain of loss and how our emotions can betray us. Brightest Day is more about building up these heroes who "can't sell" or "can't hold down a book," and turning them back into viable options. I never wanted to read a Firestorm ongoing until I read Brightest Day. And at a time where so much of the output from DC (and Marvel) holds little interest for me, titles for classic heroes like Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Firestorm would help cure the malaise which the current schedule holds. Will this be the case? We have to wait. But signs are encouraging.
Unfortunately, I will have to wait to read the conclusion of Brightest Day, thanks to my mail order comics order. But be assured gentle readers that the first book out of the box will feature Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and the rest of the resurrected heroes and villains...
Above is the Justice Society of America #42 features the variant Ryan Sook cover of White Lantern Hawkman! The skull and bones motif on the throne is a little ominous, but not really surprising considering the amount remains which Hath-Set used to build his portal over in Brightest Day. Hawkman's White Lantern costume is simple but effective (much, I may add, like Martian Manhunter's WL threads), and I really like his "barbarian king" pose, which seems appropriate.
Issue: Brightest Day #0 Title: "Carpe Diem" Published Date: Apr 2010 Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: In St. Roch, Carter shows Shiera relics from their past lives, all of which she remembers, along with the details about them and their lives. Carter becomes meloncholy, wondering if now that he and Shiera are truly back together it will only be a matter of time before they must die and be driven apart again. Shiera comforts him, telling him that they always have to live for the present, and their time together must be cherished. The two fall into a passionate embrace (not even noticing Boston Brand, who is mysteriously transported into their presence, but doesn't spy on them). A shard of a gem Shiera had in her belt glows violet and snaps onto the Claw of Horus like a magnet. Shiera tells Carter that the shard was given to her by a Star Sapphire, and is part of the Heart of Zamaron. They two Hawks wing off to investigate. They both feel a a strange chill, however, when a group of men working for an unidentified "client" locate the bodies of Prince Khufu and Princess Chay-era in the Himalayas. Later, Boston Brand recieves a headful of jumbled images, including Hawkman and Hawkgirl coming to blows with each other.
Review: For these reviews, I am just going to be covering the relevant Hawk stuff. Alright? Alright. I have also added a Generation for Hawkgirl, which I think is only appropriate. Anyways, this was an excellent introduction to what Johns has in store for his resurrected characters, and the dynamics of those characters. Carter and Shiera taking the trip down memory lane was great, as was Carter's sudden depression and Shiera's comforting. I really got a great vibe off of this couple and that alone makes me happy. It seems to me that Johns is going to be running with the retro-active concept that Carter's agression and anger is tempered by Shiera's patience. Fernando Pasarin is an artist whose work I have really enjoyed on other DC work, including Outsiders, so I am very jazzed about him working on so many classic DCers on this title. Definitely a great debut issue. Also, it's not Hawk related but way to go Aquaman! (If you read the issue, you'll know what I mean!)
Issue: Brighest Day #1 Title: "Second Chances" Published Date: May 2010 Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: Over the Andes, Hawkman and Hawkgirl follow the leadings of the shard of the Heart of Zamaron, and end up on a cargo plane transporting the bons of Prince Khufu and Princess Chay-era. The two Hawks go to town on the mercenaries on board, and are able to smash through most of them. When Hawkgirl is in trouble, Hawkman rages that he is not losing her so quickly; she replies by taking out her assailant and telling him that he won't be rid of her that easily. The head of the team arranges for a teleport out of harms way, then shoots the pilots. With the plane heading down, the Hawks grab the survivors and bail, with no clue as to why the bones survived the end of the Blackest Night, who wanted them, and for what purpose. Elsewhere, the shadowy "client" is revealed to be a reincarnation of Hath-Set, who now possesses the remains.
Review: The maxi-series kicks off proper here, and it's a heck of a ride. The non-Hawk stuff includes some tremendous scenes with Aquaman and Mera, including the return of a character very important to the Aquaman mythos, Ronnie and Jason discovering a problem with their new Firestorm matrix, and the Martian Manhunter heading off to investigate a new mystery. But the Hawk scenes are my focus here. They get essentially an extended action sequence, fighting in close quarters on the cargo plane. The art crew, anchored by Ivan Reis, puts over the danger and power of Hawkman and Hawkgirl beautifully herein. The banter is similar to the #0 issue -- Hawkman is overly concerned about Shiera and Shiera has to reassure him -- but it's great seeing them in action together. The reveal of the baddie is not overly surprising, although this version does not look like Roderick and I guess is a new reincarnation. (Besides the big villain reveal this issue belongs to another character.) All told this was a very good issue and I am totally on board for the series.
Issue: Brightest Day #2 Title: "Nuclear Options" Published Date: May 2010 Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: Above the jungles of Peru, Hawkman and Hawkgirl deposit the goons they battled last issue into their headquarters. Upon examining the base, the Hawks find that Hath-Set has been watching them for generations. Worse, he has made death masks of them throughout the ages, casting their dead faces to decorate his wall. Hawkman rages furiously, smashing the masks, proclaiming that they will no longer let Hath-Set decide their destiny -- because the time has come to hunt him down and kill him.
Review: Well cripes! Hath-Set just got even creepier! This definitely expands upon the resurrection stuff which Johns (along with Goyer) spent a lot of time developing in Volume 4, which makes perfect sense. I definitely pumped my fists to Hawkman's fury, and liked even more seeing Shiera put her hand on his shoulder to steady him. Not much Hawk-stuff this time out, but this really has a lot of promise.
Issue: Brightest Day #3 Title: "Revelations" Published Date: June 2010 Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: Tracking down the last of Hath-Set's mercenaries in the Andes, Hawkman and Hawkgirl smash their way to the villian's compound. While Hath-Set does his work with the bones, the mercenary commander wants to know about his money. After informing him that the money has been wired to the mercnary's Swiss account, Hath-Set disappears. The Hawks arrive, take out the last mercenary, and see where Hath-Set has gone: into a vortex generated by all of the bones of their previous lives which have been arranged into a gateway.
Review: Where could a mystical gateway made out of the Hawks' bones lead to? I'm not sure if the Hawks story in Brightest Day has much to do with the events of Blackest Night or not. It seems like the other stories, except possibly the Manhunter, are following up on that series, whereas this is going it's own way. That is not a complaint.
Issue: Brighest Day #4 Title: "Thresholds" Published Date: June 2010 Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: In Peru, Hawkman and Hawkgirl stand before the portal Hath-Set made of their bones, deciding their course of action. Agreed that Hath-Set traveled through the portal, Hawkman wants to follow him, while Hawkgirl thinks they should simply destroy the portal, trapping their foe wherever he is. They deduce that the reason why the Heart of Zamaron was drawn to Hath-Set was that the piece of bone wanted to be joined with the rest of it. The two heroes agree to travel through the portal, and are forced to relive all of their deaths all over again -- in an instant. When they emerge, the find themselves in a strange new landscape, leading Shiera to say that they are not in Peru anymore...
Review: "Hawkworld" is a strange landscape, with floating cliffaces seemingly connected with ropes or bridges under a yellow sky. I assume this is some sort of a mystical realm and not an alien one, but its hard to tell from what we see in this issue. I really like the dialogue between Carter and Shiera, and Johns seems intent on driving home the long-fan-ascribed relationship where Shiera is the tempering element to Carter's temper. Since I am one of those fans, I don't mind that one bit.
Issue: Brightest Day #5 Title: "Under Pressure" Published Date: June 2010 Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: In the alien landscape they were transported to through Hath-Set's bone portal, Hawkman and Hawkgirl try to get their bearings. But the trauma of reexperiencing all of their deaths has made them realize that something is wrong. As they kiss, they can both feel that they are wasting away inside, as Black Lantern-like tendrills creep into their faces. Their moment is interrupted, however, when they are suddenly attacked by a pack of animal-men hybrids! The large cat-like creatures pounce, but are beaten back by the skilled warriors. Out of nowhere, a flock of real hawk-men swoop in and attack the animal-men... and then snatch Shiera and take off with her. Later, Carter recovers from the attack to find an animal-man standing over him, welcoming him to Hawkworld.
Review: Deeper and deeper the mystery grows! Besides the strange and savage Hawkworld (which, it seems, is the place's actual name... clever...), it seems that the White Light did more (or less) than simply bring the dead back to life. Are the Hawks rotting from the inside out? Does it have to do with them not being on Earth, and thus, close to the White Lantern? Furthermore, what the heck is the deal with Hawkworld? Does this have a connection to the Hawk Avatar? And if the Hawk Avatar is involved, what about the other animal avatars? A Lion-Mane come back, perhaps? And what in the name of Hashut does this have to do with Hath-Set? I think we're going to go a lot deeper down the rabbit hole before things start to come back together, but hey, nothing sells like a mystery, right? You have to like Finch's cover, which looks for all the world like the Hawks chasing after the TARDIS. Hey, Timelord! They both got you beat on the rebirth angle!
Issue: Brightest Day #7 Title: "The Secret Of Life" Published Date: Aug 2010 Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: On Hawkworld, Hawkman talks with the Cat-Men about the strange place he has found himself in, and vows to rescue Shiera. Right as he does, he is hit with a strange psychic vision from The Entity (thanks to Boston Brand's activity on Earth). Now glowing bright white and wearing the uniform of a White Lantern, he is told to "stop the Queen" and shown a vision of a giant forest floating high above a city. As soon as the vision comes, it goes, leaving Hawkman and his companions confused. Up higher in Hawkworld, Hawkgirl is bound and being looked over by the Man-Hawks and Hath-Set. She too glows white and receives a vision, showing her Hawkman being crucified and murdered by Hath, and hearing a voice telling her that if they die on Hawkworld, there will be no resurrection. Afterwards, Hath-Set says that he will present her to his Queen...
Review: Mysteries wrapped in enigmas wrapped in White Lantern uniforms! The Entity does as promised and answers the questions of why the resurrected have been brought back, but the answers are questions in and of themselves (of course). I don't mind this kind of literary sleight of hand because this being a limited series, we are pretty much guaranteed to get our answers at some point. There is massive speculation going on as to the identity of the "Queen" The Entity referred to. Could it be the Queen of Hawkworld? Oliver Queen? The new head of Queen Industries over in Green Arrow? Someone else? Right now we don't have enough information. On a side note, both Hawks look fantastic in their White Lantern costumes -- I am sure that DC Direct will be bringing us plastic representations of them soon enough!
Issue: Brightest Day #8 Title: "Defiance" Published Date: Aug 2010 Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera Retcon Status: In Continuity,
Summary: On Hawkworld, Hawkman is shown around by Tonrarr, the alpha male of the Lion-Mane Pride he has fallen in with. Hawkman says that he has met "his kind" before, but Tonrarr says no Lion-Mane has ever left Hawkworld. They enter the base of a large statue and Tonrarr explains the history of this strange land. Centuries ago, man found the gateway to Hawkworld from Earth, and eventually made himself the ruler of it but pitting the various beasts against each other. Eventually, Man grew listless, and found the portal to Thanagar, and left Hawkworld to be ruled by Queen Shrike. The history lesson is cut short, but the arrival of a huge host of Beast Men outside the statue, who want to see the "healer." Up in the Manhawks city, Hawkgirl has been put into a gladiatorial pit by Hath-Set, where she makes short work of her foes. Tearing herself out of the cage, she attacks Hath-Set, but is put down by Queen Shrike. Shrike admonishes Hawkgirl, saying she always had her father's temper and her mother's resolve. The Queen then removes her helmet and reveals herself as... Shiera's mother?!
Review: Okay, now I don't know what to think. It really seems like Johns and Tomasi are trying to link Thanagar and Earth on much stronger terms than what was done with the modern revamp of Carter Hall. In that story, the main connections between Thanagar and the Hawks were the Nth metal itself and their spaceship. But this reveal supposes a much deeper connection between not only Thanagar and the spirits of Khufu and Chay-era, but of Thanagar and Earth itself. Were the ancient Thanagarians actually Earthlings? Now that we know that life started on Earth, wouldn't the Thanagarians have to be some sort of descendant of Earthlings? Other questions are raised, too: What is the connection between the Lion-Mane Pride and both of the terrestrial Lion-Manes? How do the Manhawks fit into this? Just who the heck was Shiera referring to as "mother?" (My money has got to be on Chay-era's mother, especially given Shrike's bronzed skin tone.) If this is the setup for the new status quo for the Hawks, color me intrigued. It's almost as if the brass at DC wanted a Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl but Johns didn't want to let go of his modern Hawks. Either way I am totally digging it. The thought of Carter leading a charge of Beast Men against the Manhawks city in the sky has me itching with anticipation. And you have got to like Shiera kicking butt and taking names! Side Note: I am going to have to scan the two page spread of Tonrarr detailing the history of Hawkworld, because I don't think I really did it justice with my synopsis.
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.
Issue: Brightest Day #17 Title: "Homecoming" Published Date: Jan 2011 Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: On Zamaron, Queen Shrike and her army of Manhawks have come through her portal and invaded. Hawkman and Hawkgirl, still bound to the portal and slowly being drained by it, are saved by the head Star Sapphire, Carol Ferris, who is riding The Predator -- the avatar like entity of Love. The Predator is a little too interested in the Hawks, saying that they have "returned" after so many years. Neither Hawkman nor Hawkgirl are terribly interested, with Shiera telling Carol to have it release her before she breaks all of its claws off. Once released, the Hawks enter the fray, with Shiera telling Carter to take on the Manhawks, while Shrike is hers. The battle is brutal, with both Manhawks and Star Sapphires falling. Carol unleashes her power on Shrike while Hawkgirl engages her directly, with all of her built up anger spilling out. The Predator takes notice of the Queen; specifically, the utter lack of Love in her heart. Approaching her, The Predator says that she must feel great love. Bonding with her, The Predator transforms Queen Shrike into an even more powerful armored form, seemingly ready to end this conflict immediately!
Review: Despite a cover shot and appearance by Firestorm, the Hawks split the screen time with Deadman in this issue (and the next) as the battle with Queen Shrike spills onto the home of the Star Sapphires. The Hawk elements carry the action quotient of the issue nicely, as they have for the most of the previous installments in which they have appeared! Not much detail is added to the story -- it seems Queen Shrike is mostly interested in Zamaron for the power she can gain from it -- but that doesn't really bug me, because we're at the "flying and hitting" phase. Strong cliffhanger and a good decision by the creative crew to not leave us hanging too long!
Issue: Brightest Day #18 Title: "Easy Come, Easy Go" Published Date: Jan 2011 Generation: Modern Carter, Modern Shiera Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: On Zamaron, the combined form of The Predator and Queen Shrike strikes out at her foes, while Hawkman and Hawkgirl try to figure out what has just happened. Carol Ferris says that the Predator can be corrupted by a host, and it seems that this is the case. But before she can do anything about it, Shrike lashes out, freezing her in a block of ice. Shiera grabs Carol's Star Sapphire Sword while Hawkman engages Shrike. Outclassed by her newfound power, Carter gets beaten down by the maniacal queen. Shrike taunts Hawkman, saying that now that the curse is broken, when she kills them they will be dead forever. Equipping himself with the Claw of Horus, Hawkman strikes Shrike in the front while Hawkgirl stabs her from the back. The massive overload of power explodes out from the Queen, reaching the bones of her portal... and reanimating the various remains of the Hawks. They grab the Queen, and drag her down, dead. With thanks, carol sends the Hawks back to St. Roch. At Stonechat House, the Winged Wonders begin to celebrate defeating their curse with a little lovemaking, but they are interrupted by the White Lantern Boston Brand. He points the ring at the Hawks, against his will, and white energy erupts from it. The White Ring tells them that they will live longer apart than together, and the Hawks are ripped apart. Slowly they turn white, until they both turn into dust!
Review: The finale of the battle with Shrike delivers the goods in spades, with an appropriate high octane conclusion. The Claw of Horus had to play a role after Johns teased it early on. But as a Hawkfan, you had to know something was up when we saw an extended scene of them as lovers... such scenes almost never end well for our heroes. Where the heck things go to from here is anyone's guess, but I must say, Johns said that the Hawks were cursed and it seems that he was telling the truth!
BIG thanks to Frank over at the Idol-Head for pulling this post together for me... having a newborn plus your parents in town plus overtime is not a tenable situation, folks!