Issue: The Savage Hawkman #9 Title: "Nth Ways To Die" Published Date: May 2012 Generation: New 52 Carter Retcon Status: In Continuity
Summary: After an evening of pondering the mysteries of the Nth Metal, Carter Hall takes to the skies as Hawkman to get some air. His relaxation is interrupted by a trio of well armed and armored assailants on hoverboards, who attempt to incapacitate and capture our hero. They are not expecting Hawkman's fierce response, however, as he quickly subdues two of them. After taking down the third one, Hawkman demands an explanation, but his foe dies in a flash of energy rather than reveal any information.
Thinking the threat is over, Hawkman receives a new shock -- a message is transmitted to him through the Nth Metal itself, directly into his brain. The message is garbled, however, and all he can see is a glimpse of a beautiful red haired woman and some broken syllables. Then, as suddenly as it appeared, the message vanishes. Winging back to his apartment, Hawkman doesn't make it inside before an explosion levels his home, leaving it a smoking ruin.
After grabbing some clothes and a copy of his latest research from one of several of his secret storage lockers hid throughout the city, Carter meets up with Emma, where they discuss the alien hieroglyphs they found on Morphicius's containment ship and how the longer he studies, the more Carter understands them. Their meeting is cut short when another assailants arrive, this time lead by their commander, Ironside. Hawkman and his armored foe tangled, but Ironside gets the upper hand when he captures Hawkman in an energy bubble. Ordering his men to get Emma, Ironside takes Hawkman captive.
Later, Hawkman awakes in a small cage, being address by an armored humanoid named Xerxes. Xerxes tells our hero that he is an antiquities broker, and that he is currently dealing with several potential buyers for the Nth Metal armor. As such, he has arranged a demonstration of the armor's ability -- as he leads Hawkman to a dirt floor arena, where three gladiators await his arrival!
Review: Well, here we are. The new "era" (so to speak) of The Savage Hawkman has begun and very quickly we find out hero knee deep in mysteries and danger. I think the part which had everyone guessing was the writing team of Rob Liefeld and Mark Poulton. Now, Rob has said that he is doing pretty much all of the writing work, with Mark doing some assists. Upon reading the issue, it shows -- the scripting and dialogue all sound remarkable in line with what Rob was doing over on the last few issues of Hawk & Dove. The script itself I thought was slick. We get a pair of action sequences which give the art time a chance to show off; we find out a good deal about our hero and how he operates in his civilian identity, and a pair of new threats debut without getting spotlight introductions. So that was dead on.
The word I want to use to describe the dialogue is "earnest." The delivery is almost akin to a high affectation, like an old movie. Honestly, what the dialogue style reminds me most of is a Jack Kirby comic. Yeah yeah, I am not trying to take a side in the Jack Kirby/Rob Liefeld argument. But the meaningful, important way in which the dialogue is said makes me think of New Gods and Forever People. And as a fan of those two books, I am on board with the dialogue style and enjoyed it. Your mileage may vary -- but that's why DC publishes 52 mainline titles a month. So on first blush, Rob handles his writing chores very well. Although I do have to ask -- what the heck happened to Carter's neighbor Singh when his apartment was blown up?! I hope the guy was out hooking up with some babe when that went down. (As an aside, there is also a great little cameo in the issue; h/t to Raul Cotto for pointing it out to me because I missed it the first time!)
Joe Bennett's pencils cannot be overstated. As much of a fan of Philip Tan's work as I am (and those who read this site know how much I dig his work), Bennett's rendering of Hawkman seems much better suited for this New 52 universe. Little touches and embellishments -- such as the winged hawk belt buckle piece, the feather details on the straps, and the spiky bits on the boots -- help bring the Savage costume to life. And the return of a traditional looking weapon (in this case, an ornate battle axe) is a welcome development. The weapon itself is also highly detailed -- the bottom of it, for instance, is a hawk's talon, and grasps a sphere, which Hawkman uses as a blunt-edge weapon during combat.
I have talked at length previously about Rob's cover, and I don't really care for it. But at the end of the day it's just a cover, and I try not to judge books (and comic books) by them.
Overall, I really enjoyed this issue. I am very much champing at the bit for the next issue and to see where the story goes. We have been teased that the fight which opens the next issue is going to be an epic, and from this cliffhanger I believe it.
(This review was delayed thanks to the long holiday weekend. Sorry for the inconvenience.)