Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How Does a Pacifist Walk The Way Of The Warrior?

Sometimes I question why I do mail order.

"The savings" is the correct answer, and the answer I always come back to.  But it makes it very difficult to wait to read these books that everyone else is talking about, especially when it comes to Hawkman.  I can't comment on Savage Hawkman #17 or Justice League of America #1 because my dang box won't ship until this week thanks to DCBS's new shipping policies.  Hrrn.

I want to read JLoA (prepare yourselves: I bought the South Carolina variant) specifically because of what I have been reading online about Hawkman being portrayed once more as a brutal warrior.  This is in line with how Johns wrote the character in both the pre-Infinite Crisis JSA as well as in Volume 4.  I just finished up the "Wings of Fury" collection from that Volume, and that was the final conclusion of the Headhunter storyline -- that Carter needed to embrace his warrior self and abandon the "masks" of civilization which he wore.

Considering that during this period it was very common for Hawkman to be called "Conan with wings" this makes some sense -- for Carter Hall, ancient soul reborn countless times, anyway.  It makes less sense for Katar Hol, Thanagarian police officer, but the alien Hawkmans were usually less "warrior" and more "tough guy cop" which lines up.  Space Dirty Harry works for me.  (I'm still waiting for a character to fill the role of Space Paul Kersey but that is another matter.)

Which puts us in a weird sort of position as our New 52 Hawkman is Katar Hol, adoptive Thanagarian royalty.  And non-warlike adoptive Thanagarian royalty at that.  How does this guy -- the guy who was the "peaceful" brother back on Thanagar -- become the warrior like Johns clearly wants to write him?

In retrospect, a lot of Savage Hawkman really doesn't add up at all.  What was the uniform Katar/Carter was destroying at the start of the series, for one.  And why is the peacenik brother suddenly this "savage" just because he was a fugitive?  (At this point I would almost buy him becoming savage NOW because of the hounding and pursuit in "Hawkman: Wanted," coupled with Shayera's death, but who knows?)  

I think it's plain looking at it now that Tony Daniel had one thing in mind, and then that got jettisoned when Rob Liefeld came on board.  And then that itself was jettisoned when he left and now the character is back in a sort of narrative limbo.  

Why does this sound so familiar?

What is it about certain characters (like Hawkman) who attract this sort of wonkiness?  My theory is that it is the multiple origins, and different creators having different favorites of the origins, and those favorites not playing well together.

There has to be something more to why Katar has changed his mind about violence and the way of the warrior.  I have a gut feeling that Johns intends to address it as he has shown a prediliction towards that characterization in the past.  We'll see soon enough, I imagine.  At least those of us who don't have to wait for our mail order boxes.


Mr P said...

Yeah. That's been my single biggest complaint with Savage Hawkman since day one. There's just no clearly defined character there.
A lot of folks said, "Wait and see! He'll get fleshed out!"

Now Hawkman feels like more of a muddled mess then he's ever been. And that was done after a complete reboot and in only a year-and-a-half. Almost impressive.

Luke said...

I think that had any of the authors had more than a 8 issues to tell Hawkman stories (by choice or otherwise), there would have been a very clearly defined character in the New 52 Hawkman. But for whatever reasons, that was not meant to be. So we had essentially a clean slate, and on that slate we have placed two misfires.

Say what you will about Geoff Johns, but if he is writing a character regularly, that becomes almost the de-facto way to write the character. Being in the new JLoA title should help to solidly define this new Hawkman.

I hate to say it but once more we have to "wait and see..." Dang.

Anonymous said...

I just want my awesome, intelligent space-cop Hawkman back. I am glad Hawkman is playing a part in the new universe, but like you pointed out, a lot of this just doesn't fit. I'd love to bring Tony Isabella back and give him the character, though his style isn't quite violent or grim enough to fit the New 52.

Mohawked adorableness said...

These are all really good points. I was questioning the same thing as to who was Hawkman before issue one. I just read issue 17 and it raises even more questions about Carter/Katar's identity. He seems to now be fully aware of his Thanagarian history which seems a little too convenient. I mean he doesn't understand why they are hunting him to now being fully accepting of his Thanagarian life.

Also how long was he on Earth that he had time to establish himself as a decipher of unknown languages? I can accept the idea that he is the reincarnated Katar (as to the Justice League Unlimited cartoon series) Or even that his soul and Katar's merged. But this "new Origin" is very confusing.

Also I am not a fan of Tom Defalco's writing of this issue 17. It feels very "silver age" considering every action has to be explained.

Luke said...

@benton, I really thought we were going to end up with a hybrid, a Space Conan if you will, with the direction Rob Liefeld was taking Carter/Katar. We all see how well that worked out. I still think we will end up with something along those lines for Hawkman under Johns. Personally, I suspect that Johns will write Hawkman as essentially he did in JSA only without talking about his past lives any. Or not, who knows?

@Mowhawked, I think it's clear that Tony Daniel intended to use Thanagar in some capacity since in the Morphicius arc Hawkman is specifically and mysteriously referred to as "Katar." So clearly his alien heritage -- or at least alien connection -- had some role to play. I also suspect that had Daniel stayed on long enough, we would have seen that Katar/Carter had been on Earth for quite a while (maybe Thanagarians age slower than humans?) and thus his reputation as a xenolinguist.

But, of course, thrown out the window.

I am eager to read #17 and see what I think. Given my appreciation of the Silver Age, maybe it will speak to me more than you. We'll find out when I get my box, I suppose!

Count Drunkula said...

Sorry, Luke, but -- "had any of the authors had more than a 8 issues to tell Hawkman stories (by choice or otherwise), there would have been a very clearly defined character in the New 52 Hawkman" --

More than eight issues? No. A professional working at DC comics ought to be able to establish a clearly defined character in ONE issue, preferably the FIRST. Tony Daniel and Rob Liefeld completely failed to do that.

Ironically, Johns offers the most "savage" Hawkman in a few pages of JLofA #1. But I'm really hoping that in another year or two, the character can make a comeback in a fresh ongoing simply titled HAWKMAN.

Luke said...

@Count, you make a very good point regarding that first issue. Part of the problem was that Daniel wanted to do this mystery thing with the character, and it never really had any momentum. So you've already stumbled out of the starting blocks right there.

My only point was that to flesh out a character, you need some time. Johns and Robinson had time to really stretch their legs with Carter and we got to know him very well. Not the case here.

A relaunch? Maybe in a few years time. And with a creative that will stick around, too.