Friday, October 7, 2011

Read: The Savage Hawkman #1

Issue: The Savage Hawkman #1
Title: "Hawkman Rising"
Published Date: Sep 2011
Generation: New 52 Carter (note: new designation)
Retcon Status: In Continuity

Summary: Carter Hall drives out into the middle of the woods, and digs a small pit, into which he dumps his Hawkman costume and equipment. He sets the uniform on fire, claiming that if one of them was going to die. Suddenly, the flaming Nth metal twists and changes into a fiery bird, which envelopes Carter in it's grasp...

Carter then wakes back in his ill-kept brownstone, seemingly alright save for some burns on his hands and a broken window. He tries to figure out how he got home (while naked, even) when his coworker Terrence shows up. Professor Ziegler and his daughter Emma have found an alien shipwreck several hundred years older than the Titanic, and Carter is needed for the examination. Carter goes with Terrence, but not before noticing that his hands are now fully healed.

At Ziegler's facility, the examination is under way. Inside the wreck, the Professor has found several pods, each containing an alien mummy! But as two of Ziegler's men examine one of the pods, they are attacked by an inky substance coming from inside the mummy. The men are quickly consumed and become slimy humanoid beasts. Carter gets everyone out and leaps to attack the creatures, thinking that this will be his last fight. But his skin begins to burble, and the Nth metal erupts from his skin, arming and armoring him as the hero Hawkman once again! Hawkman attacks the main creature, who calls himself Morphicius, and claims that he consumes and expends energy. The two warriors brawl back and forth with neither able to get the upper hand. Morphicius finds Hawkman's life force strangely resistant, but he begins to absorb his foe's life force, giving his alien form wings and golden armor, while Hawkman is a drained husk!

Review: The Savage Hawkman is here! And it's a pretty powerful debut at that. In short order we are introduced to Carter Hall at his lowest, and then he is thrown in a strange new direction right as a new alien menace rears its head.

Philip Tan's art is excellent. I thought his stuff on Outsiders was the cat's pajamas, and if anything this book looks better. The full page reveal of Hawkman's new gear is screaming to be a poster. I really dig the morphing weapon, which starts out as a short handled axe, and then becomes a morningstar. The spiked kneepads add a layer of welcome barbarism and even the shoulderpads work for me. The helmet is also suitably "savage." About the only thing which would have been really cool would be if the wings were metallic as well, but the feathered wings are so classic that it is hard to fault them. I really hope Tan can keep on deadline because his Hawkman is one I want to see.

Now, what about Tony Daniel's story? Frankly, I liked it. After I read the issue, I wanted to read it again. Seeing Carter at the absolute bottom ties in so strongly with the end of Brightest Day that it seems that, in some way shape or form, that the Hawks' story still went down. And much like I said at the end of that book, a Hawkman without Hawkgirl to ground him is a dangerous individual. The idea of Carter working as a cryptologist is a twist on the classic museum curator/archaeologist riff, and it looks like Daniel is introducing a new supporting cast with some potential. I like the mysterious appearance of Morphicius and am very curious what his origin is. The little bit about "alien mummies" made me grin too. Plus its one heck of a cliffhanger!

To me the most controversial aspect is the Nth metal becoming seemingly a part of Carter himself. It's very similar to how Iron Man's armor currently works, oddly enough. I think it's certainly going to streamline his powers since he doesn't have to "gear up" before heading out, and it opens the door to stories of just what the heck the Nth metal has done to him. This sort of approach is preferable to me than the sort of vague, "He's spent a lot of time around Nth metal" excuse for various odd happenings. So at first blush I am cool with it.

Overall, I was very satisfied with this issue and am now champing at the bit for #2. This is a new Hawkman for a new universe, and hopefully this clean slate and new direction will be one which will last for a good long while!

I also really marked out for the "Hawkman created by Gardner Fox" credit. Keep it up DC!

Image: The Savage Hawkman, #1, 2011, Philip Tan.


Diabolu Frank said...

Doesn't sound like my bag, but it doesn't sound too bad, either. Hawkman has needed more than just wings and a mace to set him apart from the legions of similar characters out there (or hell, the ones he ripped off himself on Mongo.) This nth metal absorption could be just the ticket!

joe said...

I'm a new reader to DC (been a marvel reader for about 2 - 3 years now) and i've never read anything Hawkman before, but I decided to pick it up today and hey, I liked it.

I felt it kind of dragged a bit in the middle where they were unveiling the mummy blobs but right when Hawkman showed up the comic picked right back up.

It surpassed my expectations but it still leaves something to be desired (mostly that I didn't learn a whole lot about Carter's personality or his back story) hopefully they'll tread this ground again (briefly, I know how it irritates old fans) being that Hawkman isn't exactly a well known character I feel that's necessary.

Anyways, fun comic, fun blog keep up the good work

Mars said...

A constructive voice of dissent:

I like the drastic departure from what came before - but that's kind of par for the course in Hawkman's publishing history, right?

I agree that Philip Tan's art was really good, it's uncluttered and minimal. I'll be curious to see what #2 holds. Seeing the massive difference between Stormwatch #1 and #2, I'm betting that Savvy's next issue will be quite a treat.

Despite this, I thought that Savage Hawkman was pretty poorly written.

IMO, the dialog was rough at best, chuckle inducing at worst and this new Hawkman is, in essence, an amalgam of two Marvel properties - Wolverine (not new for Hawkman, I know) and now Venom.

This mash-up is, in itself, not actually the problem for me. The problem is that the villain is himself, basically, another Venom clone.

The worst, however, was having Hawkman immediately get his ass handed to him. This was ostensibly to be the first time new readers saw this character and he ends his reintroduction in a withered heap. That's fine a few issues in, but not in a #1 of a line wide reboot.

Tony Daniel is also writing and drawing Detective Comics every month. Being a high profile title, it's clearly getting the lion's share of his attention, understandably.

I'd like to see someone else come on and take over writing duties on Savage Hawkman - or at least write the dialog for Daniel's plots. It just feels like a rushed effort to me.

Luke said...

@Frank, It does address some logical problems with him as well, and it seems to be giving him some actual powers now rather than everything coming from the costume. (It's been years since the *wheet wheet* or the great vision has really been used to much effect!) Personally I am jazzed.

@Reed, first off, welcome! I hope my blog helps you to learn more about Hawkman, just as writing it has helped me learn more about him. I figure that we will learn more about Carter's past (including why he was burning the original Hawkman costume) as the opening arc develops. I liked the space mummies but I like mummies in general so maybe I am more prone! Hopefully the book will continue to surpasse your expectations!

@Mars, you're pretty dead-on regarding big changes being par for the course for Hawkman. You also raise some real valid points regarding Wolverine and Venom. Although, I would more say Wolverine and Iron Man considering that Tony has had the "flowing from the skin" thing for a while now, too, and it's more of a gear thing than Venom's symbiotic nature.

The berserk aspect has been a staple of Hawkman since he was brought back by Johns and Goyer, so the Wolverine part, eh. The flowing Nth metal part, on first blush I dig it.

Still, it's a legitimate gripe. Especially when one considers that, like you say, it's a fresh restart. Daniel as a writer is a fairly fresh slate for me, as I have not read much of his stuff. I thought it was a good debut, but I can see your points too. Did it feel rushed? I didn't really get that but to be fair, I did not read Detective Comics for comparison!

Anyway, I hope that the book soon turns to a direction which both of us can dig at the same time, and I thank you for your comments!

In fact THANK YOU to everyone for commenting about The Savage Hawkman #1!