Thursday, January 12, 2012

Read: The Savage Hawkman #4

Issue: The Savage Hawkman #4
Title: "The Black Plague"
Published Date: Dec 2011
Generation: New 52 Carter
Retcon Status: In continuity

Summary: At Dr. Kane's lab, Hawkman and Morphicius duke it out while Aksana battles the Plague beasts.  Morphicius claims to be stronger than ever thanks to Hawkman bringing the Plague back to him last issue, but Hawkman battles furiously, cutting off one of the alien's hands and driving him back.  But Aksana warns that the Nth metal weaponry are actually helping Morphicius; the alien taunts that the Nth metal properties he absorbed has made it impossible for Hawkman to hurt him.  Morphicius also mentions that the Nth metal is Thanagarian, which surprises Hawkman.

Elsewhere in the lab, Dr. Kane has located the still ailing Waker, demanding to know how to stop the Plague...

Back in the battle, Aksana is overwhelmed, but saved from the tide of Plague by Hawkman.  In the middle of that, Morphicius has made his exit, tracking Dr. Kane (who took the time to save his alien genetic samples) to the stairs.  The alien easily overcomes Dr. Kane, and begins to absorb his life essence.  Hawkman makes the save, even though he tells Dr. Kane he should let him die.  The Winged Wonder batters Morphicius back, and knocks him through a wall to the cryo-chamber room.  There, Hawkman tells Morphicius that he figured out it was the freezing depths of the ocean which kept him contained, and uses a liquid cryogenics agent to freeze Morphicius solid.  Waker suddenly appears, claiming to be a friend, and tells Hawkman that while he has stopped Morphicius, he must stop Dr. Kane from escaping with the samples.  As Hawkman jets to the roof to put the kibosh on Kane, Waker muses to himself that he holds the key for... Katar Hol.

A few days later, Carter meets up with Emma while at ConEd getting his lights turned back on.  They talk about how Carter dropped the alien samples off with Professor Ziegler, and Carter tells her that he is going to stick around for a while.  The happy moment is short lived, though, as Carter takes off his sunglasses and sees that everyone on the street now looks like a walking corpse!

Review: Well, as befitting a comic with the title of The Savage Hawkman, the blowoff to the first story arc is a viscious brawl.  (Even the title, as it is parsed on the first page is "The Savage Hawkman vs The Black Plague.")  Daniel looks to be enjoying writing a bruiser like Hawkman and letting loose with some of the brutal back and forth between him and Morphicius.  It's very satisfying to get some real action here, especially after a fairly tame third issue.

Tan's art, for the most part, really shines.  The panels of the battle between Hawkman and Morphicius are fantastic, with lots of damage being done to both sides.  There's a sequence where Morphicius slashes Hawkman's face, damaging his helmet in the process.  Hawkman returns the favor to bashing the alien's hand off using the spiky side of his axe.  Yeeouch!  There is one incredibly awkward panel of Aksana jumping while attacking Plague with each limb.  I'm still not 100% sure what that was supposed to be.

Daniel's script is for the most part fairly straightforward.  There's an alien monster and Hawkman fights it.  Not the deepst plotline, and the script doesn't do much to elevate it.  There's a lot of macho talk on both sides, which seems appropriate so I can't complain too much.  But there's several little bits dropped here and there which make this a little more meaty.  For one thing, when fleeing, Dr. Kane tells his pilot to take him to New Hampshire, saying "You know where."  A secret base for the NLAS perhaps?  Also, when Dr. Kane is reviving Waker, there is another chamber next to Waker's.  Who's in there?  And what's the deal with Waker anyway?  

The big one of course is Waker dropping that he holds the key to Hawkman, and calls him Katar Hol.  Combined with Morphicius's statement of the "Thanagarian Nth metal," what does this mean?  Is Carter really Katar?  Is Waker telling the truth?  And if so, what is the connection between them?  There's a lot of mysteries afoot which hopefully we will see explored in the coming issues of the title.

Overall, I liked this issue.  It was a little quick due to all the fighting, but I found it a satisfying read and conclusion to the first story.  Speaking of, as a launching point this was something of an odd duck for the new Hawkman title, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed every issue and am very much digging this team.  There's been some things I didn't like -- Carter's surliness is pretty off putting, for one, and the dialogue still tends to get heavy-handed at times.  But no book is perfect, and all I ask for is to be entertained, which I certainly was.  I am hoping that the addition of Jim Bonny as a co-writer will only help take the book even higher.  This is a new spin and a new direction for Hawkman, and for right now I am just along for the alien-smashing ride.  

Image: The Savage Hawkman #4, 2011, Philip Tan.

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