Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Tim Truman and Enrique Alcatena
Colorist: John Kalisz
Hawkman and Hawkgirl put their Shadow War on hold as they face the anthropomorphic might of rat-men and bat-men in the deadly land of Kamandi!
Very interesting indeed! Specifically putting this story during the Shadow War era is an very unexpected choice considering the suspect nature of just whether those stories actually happened or not. But considering the gimmick of the Convergence storyline, where Brainiac is able to move not only through space but also timelines, it doesn't take much mental gymnastics to assume that the Shadow War as depicted by Isabella, Richard Howell, et. al., took place in an alternate timeline.
The creative team is the bigger story here. I know Jeff Parker mostly as a Marvel guy, and am passingly familiar with his Hulk work more than anything else. But the work of his which I have read has generally been pretty good. Not the first creator I would have pegged for a Shadow War-era Hawkman story, but I have faith that he is going to turn in something worth reading -- and the idea of him handling the Animal Men of the Kamandi timeline sounds like a blast considering, again, his work with monsters and savage characters from various Hulk stories.
The art team is the one which will make long time Hawkfans sit up and take notice, though! Tim Truman and Enrique Alcatena are reunited from the original Hawkwold prestige format series, and the sample artwork looks amazing. Seeing them handling Katar and Shayera in their pre-Hawkworld uniforms is going to be a real treat for me considering how strong a stamp they put on the "Wingman" look. If nothing else, this series should be a treat to look at!
So, what do you think? Looking forward to this little visit back to the days of the Shadow War courtesy of the art team from Hawkworld? Leave a comment and share!
Image: Convergence: Hawkman artwork, 2014, Tim Truman, image retrieved from Newsarama.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Coming off the finale of Hawkworld, I read the first six issues of Volume 3, along with the infamous Annual which introduced the world to the New Blood character Mongrel. These seven issues represent the end of John Ostrander's run handling Katar and Shayera, and does a good job of tying a proverbial bow on the top of the characters (more on that in a bit). The tone is less thoughtful than Hawkworld, with more action, but overall it still shares Ostrander authorial voice for the characters and doesn't jam it up too badly.
The central conceit is that it has been nine months since the explosion in the Netherworld which ended Hawkworld. No one has seen Hawkman or Hawkwoman in that time, and when a "new" Hawkman appears, he looks and acts differently than the one the Chicago PD knew. He refuses to answer question about who he is, and, in private, he behaves a lot differently, talking to animal spirits and living in an abandoned brownstone. So immediately Ostrander sets up this mystery -- "Who is this new Hawkman?" -- which we, as the reader, assume will be the driving factor in the story.
And then Hawkman takes his helmet off in issue #2 and tells us -- and Green Lantern Hal Jordan -- that he's Katar Hol, and this whole new identity schtick is a ruse.
You get the feeling that Ostrander was not exactly thrilled with this idea?
In any event, Katar it is, so it does not come much surprise when Shayera -- whom we last saw being spirited away by some shadowy folks after the Netherworld explosion -- pops up again, albeit with her body being occupied by Count Viper, and Shayera being stuck in the body of a older, overweight man locked in a mental hospital. This too makes more sense having read Hawkworld this time around -- obviously Count Viper can jump bodies with his mind, and it's not that much a leap that he can also displace the current occupant. It also makes sense that Viper, whom we never got much of in the waning days of Hawkworld, would be the big bad here, as he tries to enact his scheme to save America from itself.
The main story from there -- Viper sending Meta/Tech assassins after Katar in order to body-swap with him, then going to New York to ensnare enough of the Justice League to have the power to take control of the federal government -- is simple enough, providing good guest spot opportunities for Wonder Woman, Bloodwynd, and The Eradicator. More interesting is the final piece of Katar's origin, as we finally meet his mother -- Naomi Carter, an Earth woman who married Paran Katar during his time on Earth as Perry Carter. It's a move which reminds me in no small part of Byrne's Man Of Steel revamp, where Clark was born on Earth; here, Katar feels his strong connection with Earth as he was born to an Earthling mother. It does further drive the Post-Crisis Katar farther away from the Pre-Crisis one, but at this point that boat has sailed.
This revelation allows us to finally fill in the blanks between the end of Hawkworld and the start of this series, as Carter Hall rescues the severely wounded Katar and brings him to Naomi for help. Ostrander also uses this to introduce the more mystical elements to Katar's personality, as it's pretty much Comic Book Law that any Native Americans characters have to talk about spirit animals and vision quests and sweat lodges and the like. I do have to admit, though, that Ostrander does tie this back to the Tim Truman miniseries, referencing Katar having to "sweat" out his addiction while exiled on the Isle of Chance.
Ultimately this leads to the finale, where Katar, Shayera, and Count Viper all do battle on the spirit realm. In a remarkably strange bit of foreshadowing, Katar is a Hawk spirit (natch) while Viper is a Snake spirit (natch again); Shayera, who does not figure into the Messner-Loebs Avatar storyline, is a Wolf spirit. In the end, everyone winds up back in the correct body, Count Viper is defeated, and the reunited lovers share a passionate embrace and kiss, rendered as a full page splash page by Steve Lieber (Jan Duursema having left the title by this point).
The final splash also features a farewell sign off from Ostrander, which is appropriate and well deserved.
With this reading, having the full weight of three years worth of, quite frankly, groundbreaking Hawkman stories as the build up, this final splash page really made me smile. This is what I mean above when I said that Ostrander ties a bow on Katar and Shayera. We, as readers, could put blinders on right there on the last page of issue 6 and live our lives believing that Katar and Shayera lived happily ever after.
I was immediately reminded of a similar final splash page by Alan Davis in Excalibur #67, which was Alan Davis' last issue on the title, and similarly leaves all of the loose ends tied up in order to show us one last shot of our heroes as a farewell image. The comparison continues, unfortunately, because much as Excalibur was radically overhauled started the next month, issue #7 of Hawkman begins the radical reinvention of Katar Hol, starting with the razing of Netherworld and then the removal of the Thanagarian trappings of the character in lieu of the Avatars. It's one of the truths of American comics, especially at this point in the 1990s -- the show must go on.
Overall I thought that while, on the whole, these six issues served as a fairly good -- if rushed -- finale to John Ostrander's Hawkman and Hawkwoman saga, and does a good job of tying up the loose ends and closing that chapter on the characters. the quality is, generally, a bit lower than Hawkworld, with a higher focus on action and some extreme new rogues (Airstryke, anyone?), but overall I still dug them and was glad to read them in such close proximity to Hawkworld.
Now, Annual #1... that's still a horse (or dog, if you prefer) of a different color. From a technical standpoint, aspects of the story work a LOT better for me, specifically the timeline of when things are happening. And considering when the Annual was released (the same day as issue #2, h/t to Mike at dcindexes.com), I am now of the opinion that John Ostrander may never have intended Mongrel to be anything more than a one-shot character. And given than -- even though at the time of publication, Katar's identity was still a "mystery" -- Hawkman continually pleads with him to act rationally and look out for the innocent people around him, I wonder if the idea was not so much that Mongrel was supposed to be an anti-hero but perhaps a counterpoint sort of villain to someone like White Dragon. White Dragon was a racist who spoke eloquently and had this facade of civility; Mongrel was a victim of racism who was all rage and histrionics. So the parallel at least seems to be there on the surface.
This doesn't change the fact that Mongrel is a lousy character, but the idea of him being a "shade of grey" villain rather than an anti-hero makes him somewhat more plausible. Annual #1 is still pretty rough going altogether, unfortunately.
All told, these opening salvos for Volume 3 are more of an Epilogue to Hawkworld than anything else. And taken in that context, I can dig that.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
You see, this set not only includes Superman, Darkseid, Green Arrow, Cyborg, an Apokoliptian vehicle and the Javelin, it also includes the Winged Wonder himself, Hawkman!
In the picture of the front box art above, you can see winging his way towards the evil New God, his trusty mace in hand, ready for hand to hand (brick to brick?) combat alongside his Justice League allies. You can see a breakdown of the set here, giving a better look at Hawkman and the other components. It's hard to tell at this size, but I think the helmet has a definite New 52/Joe Bennett vibe to it. Similarly, Green Arrow appears clean shaven and in his New 52 costume, as does Cyborg and Darkseid. Interestingly, Superman has red trunks; I am pretty sure the LEGO Man Of Steel sets had him with no red trunks.
Hawkman is making his debut as minifig in this set, along with Cyborg and Darkseid. Evidently there was a Green Arrow minigfig as an exclusive a while back, so him being available at mass market retail will surely please his fans, lonely weirdos that they are.
Unfortunately, this set is going to be a big price point, with 500+ pieces, so I am going to be hard pressed to purchase it and not just get the Hawkman minifig off of The Ebay. But the inclusion of Big Blue in his classic duds, an oversized Darkseid, the awesome Javelin, and That (Formerly) Goateed Moron all in one set is going to make it very, very tempting!
Image: LEGO Set #76028 "Darkseid Invasion" box front, 2014, image obtained from Bricks And Bloks.
Monday, October 6, 2014
Take one drink whenever:
-Someone calls Thanagar a Hawkworld.
-Someone calls Earth a Hawkworld.
--Take a second drink if they then explain what a Hawkworld is.
-Katar discusses Earth politics.
--Take a second drink if he doesn't understand or questions the political issue.
---Take a third drink if Shayera doesn't care about politics.
-Katar adopts Earth political beliefs to Thanagar.
-Katar shows off his knowledge of Thanagarian history or religion
-Someone takes an exotic drug.
--Take a second drink if someone says to "Lip" the pill.
-A Silver Age supporting character shows up (per issue).
-A Silver Age villain shows up (per issue)
-Someone says "Jam it"
-Someone says "Meat"
-Someone says "Downside" or "Downsider."
-Someone says "Seven Hells!"
-Someone says "Seven Devils!" or "Devils!"
-Someone says "Flashzone."
-Katar uses an ancient weapon
-Shayera shoots someone
-The Hawks spaceship shows up
--Take a second drink if the command module seperates from the rest of the ship.
-Someone from the DCU with "hawk" in their name or affiliated with a group with "hawk" in the name shows up (per issue).
-The Letters Page says "Read The Annual"
-Shayera's past is brought up.
-A "Shadowlord" appears (per issue)
-Bladebat appears (per issue)
-Sunderland Corp. is mentioned.
-Netherworld is mentioned (per issue)
-A Netherworlder has a pun for a name (per issue)
Winning: The winner of the game is the last one able to physically remove the next comic from the bag and board without getting tape on the cover. And be sure to leave your additional suggestions in the comments!
Thursday, October 2, 2014
These intermezzo stories are almost a complete blind spot for me. I have the three issues of Showcase featuring the Rann-Thanagar War, The Brave And The Bold #186, and I did pick up DC Comics Presents #74 at HeroesCon, but that's about it. These tales have, unfortunately, almost completed avoided being reprinted over the years (Oddly, one of the tales from Super Team Family, of all places, was reprinted in one of the 80-page Countdown Presents: The Atom specials, of all places...), so I knew I was going to have to re-sharpen my back issue diving skills in order to locate them. Yeah, I could just order them all online, but I at least wanted to attempt to buy local before resorting to the Internets.
So part of my lunch break today involved heading over to my one-time LCS, Borderlands, to check out the selection in the back issue bins. They are typically pretty well stocked, at least for a store of their size. They don't have the sheer real estate that Heroes & Dragons does down in Columbia, but as a trip to the capital was out of the realm of possibility over lunch, Borderlands it was. So how did I make out?
The Brave & The Bold #139 -- I normally hunt Marvel team-up books more than DC ones, but the DC ones I have read are generally cut from much the same cloth as their cross-town brethren. The relationship between Batman and Hawkman is an odd one -- both are intimidating figures who don't play nice with crooks, but I've always wondered about how Hawkman's position as a policeman would jive with Batman's operations outside the law. Of course this being 1978, Batman wasn't exactly on the outs with the GCPD, I don't think, but it's food for thought anyway. I found a good looking copy at $5, which was my ceiling that I wanted to pay for the book. But, as I said, I figured I would throw some money at the local shop, so this was a good candidate. Doubtless I will break this out at some point when I next guest star on Back To The Bins, as was the style of the time.
Detective Comics #500 -- This one was something of a surprise. Not that they had it in stock -- I figured, a big, oversized anniversary issue like this, surely they will have one -- but rather the price: a measly $4. Considering that the 80 Page Giant barely seems to want to fit in its bag and board, that seems like, if nothing else, a good cost-per-page return. The Hawk story in this issue is of interest to both Hawkfans and backers of the Martian Manhunter, as the Pinioned Powerhouses investigate whatever happened to good old Dr. Erdel.
Non-Hawk Related -- I rounded out the trip with a few unrelated titles. First was (Adventure Into) Fear #26, featuring Morbius, The Living Vampire. I had picked up a couple of issues if Fear at HeroesCon and for $3 I thought, 'Why not?' Then, a quintent of dollar books: Avengers #222, 231, and 331 (part of my slow attempt to actually collect Avengers outside of simply buying the Essentials), Creatures On The Loose #28 (a Steve Gerber penned tale of Thongor), and Kong The Untamed #5 (because I will always buy DC Explosion era S&S comics).
I ended up leaving a good number of issues of Detective Comics behind, because while I like to shop local, I won't spend $15+ for a single book; it's just not in my budget. Still, good to know the stock is available locally, to keep that in mind for FCBD, the Big Annual Sale, or even when they have a booth set up at HeroesCon or the upcoming SC Comicon.
And so begins the hunt once again. It's weird to go to these sections of the back issue bins -- unfamiliar territory for me to look through Batman comics! -- but as the journey into Hawk fandom continues, the path stretches ever onward.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
After the three-issue prestige format miniseries, the Hawkworld ongoing series ran for 32 issues, along with three Annuals. Across those 35 issues, scribes Tim Truman and John Ostrander (first jointly, and then Ostrader flying solo) handle the writing chores, meaning that the overall story remains remarkably consistent, as does the portrayal and voices for each character. And there are many important characters here -- besides our two heroes, we also get various folks on both Earth and Thanagar who have their own roles to play and motivations to act upon. Given this, titling the series Hawkworld makes perfect sense, as it is not just the story of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, but of all of the various players on both of the Hawkworlds.
As to be expected this post contains some SPOILERS for Hawkworld, so proceed with the appropriate caution.
--Character. As is to be expected, by having the same authors work on the entire series, the characters are all very consistent and generally well developed and portrayed throughout. Having always heard that the Post-Crisis Katar was a bleeding heart liberal, I was surprised to find him to be much more well rounded than that description would have me believe. He's a bleeding heart for sure, but overall he is very three dimensional. I enjoyed his contemplations and musings on nature of liberty and freedom, and the comparisons of the American set of values with those of Thanagar. Much like the Pre-Crisis Hawks would eventually leave Thanagar and take Earth as their "adopted home," so too does Katar make the journey here, first believing Earth to be little more than another Hawkworld, but slowly learning that the "inalienable human rights" guaranteed by the American Revolution may not be mere words on old paper. It's a meaty and fascinating sort of character arc, especially given what we know of Katar, and the depths to which he sank, in the miniseries.
Shayera is a standout. The entire modern concept of Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman comes from Shayera's depiction in this series. Fans of Hawkgirl from her turns in Justice League, as well as fans of the Pre-52 Kendra Saunders version, would be well served to check out this series to see the genesis of the hard bitten, hard charging brawler. (They might also check out this issue from Volume 4, featuring Shayera and Kendra tangling.) To this day, the death of Shayera Thal remains one of the most frustrating events of the Pre-52 era. As an aside, Shayera's borderline obsession with her firearms -- even as Katar starts to favor ancient or more simple weapons -- is also a nice callback to the Silver Age Hawks, where Shayera would routinely use Thanagarian high technology as a contrast to Katar's weaponry.
--Silver Age elements. As I said when I checked in initially during my read-through, I had no idea so many Silver Age characters and concepts would crop up in Hawkworld. We get characters such as Joe Tracy, Mavis Trent, Andar Pul, Shadow Thief, Commisioner Emmet, Hyanthis, and Dr. Moon, plus alien races such as the Lizarkons and Manhawks. In addition, there is a decent amount of Golden Age characters appearing, including Carter and Shiera Hall (naturally) and GA Flash Rogue The Fiddler.
--Retcons. This one I knew was going to be a relatively big part of the series. What I did not realize was that the Fel Andar stuff was essentially done in these pages to explain away the existence of "Hawkman" and "Hawkgirl" in the JLI. Mind you, I did not know where I thought that would be explained, but I did not know it was in Hawkorld, whatever that's worth. I guess I will need to track down those JLI issues and Invasion at some point.
--Count Viper. From having read the first 2/3rds or so of Volume 3, I had figured that the Netherworld as well as Count Viper played a bigger role in the pages of Hawkworld, but both are introduced only in the final story arc (the six part "Flight's End"). This is more my fault than anything else, as I did not realize that it was literally only 2 months between the finale of Hawkworld and the debut of Volume 3. Furthermore, given his rapid introduction and push to the top of the villain heap, the changes which Bill Messener-Loebs makes to Count Viper are all the more odd: we didn't even get a chance to really examine the character before he was fundamentally changed. All of this leads into...
--The Relaunch. Why was Hawkworld ended and restarted as Hawkman Volume 3? I have a few theories. One is the one which is stated on the letter column, that with a new direction the book needed a new title and a fresh start. I don't know how much stock I put in this, because while the identity of Hawkman is under wraps at the start of Volume 3, it pretty quickly is revealed as Katar Hol, and the story itself continues from what went down at the end of Hawkworld, with Viper and Netherworld. It's not until the two-parter by Paul Kupperberg in Hawkman v.3:no.7-8 which starts the book on a "new direction" which ultimately comes to fruition with the Messener-Loebs overhaul of Katar.
(Side note: having read Hawkworld, I strongly suspect that my opinions of that overhaul will be much different on the coming read-through of Volume 3 than they were initially!)
So unless the deal was "Let's have Ostrander finish his story and they we'll start this new direction," which seems unlikely, I don't think this theory holds up. I put more stock in my other theory, that while Hawkworld was still chugging along, that sales were falling, so a relaunch with a new #1 with a fancy cover and a more marketable name (and the promotional push which accompanied those things in 1993) would help shore up the bottom line for the book. Hence why Ostrander continued on as the writer, and Jan Duursema, who had started working on the title in the closing days, coming back on art. And, after six months, I suspect that sales had not rebounded up to where DC had wanted them, so Ostrander exits the book, Kupperberg plays scorched Earth, and Messener-Loebs' new Hawkman makes a grand entrance just in time to be showcased in a line-wide event (Zero Month). Heck, Messner-Loebs even takes Thanagar off the table a few issues after that! So maybe it's a cynical line of thought, but it looks like the relaunch was an attempt to get the Hawkworld story to sell better, and when it didn't, DC threw the whole thing out. I'd love to back this up with some sales figures, but Comichron only has detailed records dating to 1995 at this point.
All told, I really enjoyed reading Hawkworld. I have always said that the sign of a good comic book series is that when you finish an issue, you are eager to grab the next one and keep reading, and that was the case throughout this book for me.
Coming soon: A closing post on some of the lessons learned in Hawkworld, and then a read through of Volume 3. As I have already posted a good bit of the early parts of that series, I may do some link posts with additional comments.
Image: Hawkworld #32, 1992, Tim Truman.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Greetings from a regular reader of your blog. Been enjoying your entries.
Thought you would appreciate a fan's effort - just had it done less than 24 hours ago. This is the just the first selfie taken immediately after the 5 hour session (ow ow ow ) - Will ask a buddy to take a better photo at a later time. And will send that also.
Keep up the good work, you and the rest of the super bloggers
Angson (call me anson without the "g")
Toronto Ontario Canada
Wow! Awesome stuff right there! I have never had a tattoo, though my brother has several. I cannot imagine a 5 hour session in the artist's chair, though -- yikes! But, I have to say that the results are all right there in the work, though. Hawkman looks a little worse for wear with all of the arrows through his wings, but you know that he's just biding his time to beat down hie foe. I am not 100% sure but I am pretty certain that image is from the early days of Volume 4, where the Hawks and Green Arrow tangled with the Spider in St. Roch. Am I close?
Thank you so much for sharing, Angson, and I hope you get tons of compliments on your fantastic new ink!
(This is really unrelated, but Angson's sign off makes me think of Lance Storm's classic "Calgary... Alberta, Canada!" line.)
Image: Hawkman tattoo, 2014, image (and arm) provided by Angson.
Monday, September 15, 2014
One thing which benefits all three of these issues is that, despite their "crossover event" status, John Ostrander still handles the writing chores on them. So in the end they feel very much like part of the ongoing Hawkworld narrative despite the external elements. Of course, War Of The Gods is a bit more intrusive in this respect; the very nature of Armageddon 2001 is more of a wrap-around story anyway.
The first War Of The Gods tie-in issue, #15, is the better of the two because it embraces the "tie-in" aspect -- by being a side story it allows Ostrander to tell a Hawkworld story which just happens to feature the milieu of War Of The Gods as the driver. Given what has already been established about Thanagarian mythology -- specifically, the curses "Seven Devils!" and "Seven Hells!" -- resurrecting the Thanagarian pantheon on Earth is a natural choice. Add to this that the resurrection occurs at the already very well established Thanagarian museum exhibit run by Mavis Trent, and the entire story ends up feeling... I hate to use the word "organic" because it is overused in discussing comics crossovers, but in this case that is the best fit. After reading this issue, I thought to myself that with some very minor tweaks, it could have been just a done-in-one Hawkworld story with no connection to the crossover, and that is high praise indeed, considering.
Issue #16 is more what I think of when it comes to these 90's crossover tie-in issues -- moving the main characters (in this case, Wonder Woman), to where they need to be with a minimum of actual story for the "host" characters (Hawkman and Hawkwoman, of course). And that's exactly what we get, as the Hawks play a small but pivotal role in getting Wonder Woman where she has to be for the next part of the crossover. To be fair, Ostrander does deliver on what was set up previously (as well as on the cover), and has Shayera and Diana tangle. That fight, short though it is, is worth the price of admission as far as I am concerned. The modern idea of Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman as a no-nonsense, smash first ask questions sometime next week character (hugely popularized on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited) all stems from Truman and especially Ostrander's depiction of Shayera in this series, and this little subplot is a great example. Shayera is champing at the bit for a chance to go toe to toe with the Amazonian, and when she gets her chance, she goes all out. Of course, Katar plays the level head and everyone works it all out in the end, just in time for the next installment, which according to Wikipedia is Animal Man #40.
Tellingly, shortly after I read these issues, I came across a couple issues of War Of The Gods in a dollar bin, and left them there without much deliberation.
Annual #2 was released before #15, but I ended up reading it after #16, which made for a nice bit of symmetry because the ending of the Annual is picked up at the beginning of #18, so I thought it read very nicely with that pacing. In any event, while I have not read anything of Armageddon 2001 beyond this issue, I felt very comfortable with the crossover aspects of it due to the presence of Waverider, a character I got to know very well when I got into the DCU in 1994. So I knew his deal, and we get a good explanation of why he is seeking out heroes and looking at their potential futures to start things off. From there, Ostrander tells an action-packed story of the return of one of the Hawks' greatest foes, the seemingly unstoppable robot Attila!
Ostrander's story is what a Doctor Who fan would call "wibbly wobbly timey wimey," as it features the "return" of a character who had not yet been introduced. The strength of Ostrander's writing here allows the reader to simply go along for the ride. It's a good fit for an Annual, showing us glimpses of where the characters might be heading but focusing on the action, giving the buyer some fun "summer reading" as it were. Given that a lot of times this series tends to get a little heavy on the pontification, sometimes fighting a big robot is the way to go. (As an added bonus, we also get to see the Hawks take out a minor foe named Ricochet, who I am downright amazed that Geoff Johns didn't bring back at some point. Also, his name makes me think of the legendary Ricochet Barbecue Sauce segment from Mystery Science Theater 3000.) And the ending, as I said, sets up the origins of this character who we just saw return, giving us a tease of filling in that story. I was unsure if this was going to be an intentionally dangling thread by Ostrander or something he intended to get back too. So I have to admit I was pleased when Attila showed back up so quickly, as I said.
(Aside: See folks? DC has done one-off issues looking several years ahead at possible futures of their heroes before. Please stop losing your mind over the Futures End issues.)
Hawkworld has remained a very fun read for me. I had some concerns with the crossover tie-ins (and I still hold some concern for the upcoming Annual #3, which ties into The Darkness Within... as much as I like Eclipso, I am just downright wary of the crossover...), but these books were all pleasant surprises. Issue #15 was a solid story delving with more detail into the mythology and religion of Thanagar (which would become more important shortly in the series), #16 gave us a fantastic confrontation between Hawkwoman and Wonder Woman to elevate beyond it's "move the pieces" editorial direction, and Annual #2 gave us a big smash-up with some intriguing glimpses at a future whichi would never be. All told , I have to say that I came out ahead as a reader through this patch.
Image: Hawkworld Annual #2, 1991, Graham Nolan.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
This Hawkman and Hawkgirl cosplaying duo have a sort of "primitive punk" or post-apocalyptic vibe to them, almost as if they had to pull their uniforms together from whatever he could salvage. The makeshift wings amuse because I am reading Hawkworld right now, and Ostrander makes several remarks to the point that the wings are only their for gliding, so as long as they are aerodynamic, material doesn't matter. Hawkgirl's biker helmet is a nice, Mad Max sort of element. Hawkman's hlmet looks like a nice mix of the classic Hawk helmet and a Weaponer of Qward!
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Monday, September 8, 2014
To celebrate the big One-Oh-Oh, the guys have grabbed up a veritable bevy of bloggers and podcasters -- including Diabolu Frank, J. David Weter, Doug Zawisza, Chris and Cindy Franklin, Siskoid, Chad Bokelman, Ryan Daly, Michael Bailey, and of course yours truly... and a surprise in there as well -- to give some love to Justice League of America #200, featuring the new Justice League fighting the original Justice League and more heroes than you can shake a stick at. It's a celebration of centennial proportions, so why not click here and give it a listen!
Fan the Flame and Ride the Wave, boys -- here's to a hundred more!
Thursday, September 4, 2014
More interesting to me is John Ostrander "flying solo," as it were. The series' tone and look both came from Tim Truman, and as the initial storyline of the ongoing was directly tied to the end of the miniseries (The Hunt For Byth), it made sense for Truman to continue working on the versions of the characters he had created. So that makes me wonder -- why didn't Tim Truman contribute to this Annual, except for his wonderful cover? The speculatory fanboy in me suggests that perhaps Truman wasn't interested in rationalizing the continuity between the Pre- and Post-Crisis Hawks, while DC obviously was, if the amount of published mail was any indication. (And to be fair, it might not be, but it seemed like there was a legitimate groundswell of readers who were enjoying Hawkworld but wanted to know how in the world it fit with the older stories.) So, to continue the line of speculation, maybe DC wanted to tell this story, asked the series writers to tackle it in the Annual, Truman balked, and so Ostrander handled the chores.
Of course, the chances of that seem somewhat unlikely. It seems like a more likely scenario was Ostrander being able to pick up the book without negatively impacting his other workload. Or that Ostrander took sole writing duty on the Annual as a sort of "warm up act" before taking on the ongoing solo a few months later. Or that the schedule didn't allow Truman any time to contribute significantly to the Annual. Or any number of more mundane reasons which are all more plausible than Truman turning up his nose at a retcon story. Especially considering that Truman did the cover, after all!
And you can tell it's going to be a retcon story because we start out learning the origin of Golden Age menace The Fiddler, whom every time I read his name I am tempted to say it in a style like Method Man on the Batman Forever soundtrack, "Tha Fiddlaaah!" From there the story fairly deftly weaves the two timelines together (using Wally West as the conduit for Hawkman and Hawkwoman to travel through time, nice!), giving Carter and Shiera Hall an heretofore unknown Thanagarian-posing-as-Earthling compatriot in the form of Perry Carter AKA Paran Katar, Hawkman's father and the founder of the Wingmen.
The retcon itself is sort of a mixed bag for me. I've never had too much of a problem with the idea that Nth Metal is Thanagarian rather than terrestrial. That makes sense to me from a psuedo-scientific standpoint -- if this was a terrestrial elemental metal, why has it only ever been found that one time? So making it alien works for me. Similarly, while I don't love the idea of the Golden Age Hawks taking the place of the Silver Age Hawks in both Volume 2 and Justice League of America -- mostly because there are entirely too many science fiction stories in Volume 2 which rely on the Hawks being aliens -- I can at least understand that one because their looks and personalities were "close enough" (thank hashut for DC's Silver Age) that if you squint at it, you can buy it... especially in the JLA. (To this end, making Carter Hall a brunette and Shiera Hall a redhead is also reasonable, especially considering the relative difficulty even now of getting those Golden Age Hawk stories, even though it is jarring if you are reading multiple runs at once.)
But the timeline of this story is suspect to me. Essentially, Paran Katar travels to Earth shortly before Carter Hall becomes Hawkman. he helps Carter create the anti-gravity harness for his wings, without Paran's help Carter never would have been able to accomplish. He then returns to Thanagar and creates the Wingmen, who by the time of the beginning of the Hawkworld mini, are well established as the law enforcement arm of the Thanagarian government. But all of this happens really quickly. Given that this is the Post-Crisis DCU, date and time seem fairly sturdy. So if one considers that the Golden Age Hawkman first took flight in late 1939/early 1940 (Flash Comics #1 being cover dated January 1940), and then Hawkworld taking place roughly in the time it was published (1989), then we have to accept that it took almost not time at all for the Wingmen to become such an integral part of Thanagarian culture.
I suppose that a culture such as Thanagar, where alien ideas and concepts are readily mined for anything of value and the rest cast Downside, could accept and then embrace the Wingmen concept very readily. But it still seems a little cramped. I think in this sense Geoff Johns did things a little better, introducing the Nth Metal to Earth back during ancient Egypt, suggesting that the Thanagarians had a long history of using bird motifs and anti-gravity long before they got in touch with Earth. Of course, this eliminates one of the subtle ties which Ostrander introduces here -- that while Paran Katar grants Carter Hall the gift of flight, it is Carter's exploits as Hawkman which inspire Paran to create the Wingmen -- a mutually beneficial relationship between the "classic" and "modern" Hawks.
In the end, it's a good, exciting story with a good amount of twists and action, and it will keep your interest for it's double sized length. The retcon is not perfect, but really, what retcon is? It makes good on the promises to explain how things fit, even if the fit is not an exact one, but at least Ostrander and company addressed it. Hawkworld has so far been a superlative read for the most part, and Annual #1 fit right in with that level of quality.
Image: Hawkworld Annual #1, 1990, Tim Truman.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Play Arts Kai is one of several super poseable, and very pricey, Japanese toy lines going a the moment. Produced by Enix, these guys first made waves here in the States among non-tokusatsu fans for their Man Of Steel toys, featuring Superman, General Zod, and Faora. They would later release more PAK figures for DC heroes, and I came across four more DC related Play Arts Kai figures this morning while heading over to my import toy website of choice, HLJ.com. And wouldn't you know, among the lineup is Hawkman! Here is the official description:
The mighty Hawkman joins the Variant Play Arts Kai lineup! With majestic metallic wings and armor, Hawkman is ready to defend against evil! Fully posable (including the wings, of course) and accessorized with a knife, axe, mace and four extra interchangeable hands, Hawkman stands almost 30cm tall! Add this iconic hero to your collection now!
The Winged Wonder is suitable beefy in his PAK rendition, as expected. The design itself is a sort of hodge-podge of various eras of the character/ His half-armor immediately calls to mind the New 52 Savage Hawkman look, but the metal wings make me think of Hawkworld and Volume 3, as does the 3 pronged claw. The weapons -- an axe, a mace, and a knife -- fall somewhere in between Philip Tan's organic looking weapons and Joe Bennett's more ornate designs. I like the accessory array, with the swappable hands to give Katar some options for how he wants to tear into his enemies. The helmet is totally out there, looking more like a manga or video game design than anything from the comics. Overall it is a striking look and a unique amongst the multitude of different appearances which Hawkman has had over the years.
Also included in the new wave are Darkseid, Aquaman, and Cyborg. As of my writing this, only Hawkman and Darkseid were currently available at HLJ, the other two being on Order Stop (meaning that they are not taking any more preorders at this time). As much as I would love to add this figure to my collection, I have sworn off high end import toys because they come out with far too much regularity and too much awesomeness for me to afford. And at 10200 yen (or about $97) before shipping, PAK Hawkman is way out of my range.
Still, a cool figure and a cool design, so for those of you who might never have seen this figure otherwise, I hope you dig this new Hawkman figure.
Image: Variant Play Arts Kai Hawkman, 2014, image obtained from HLJ.com.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
The page in question comes from Hawkworld #5, during which the Hawks are split up in space, with Shayera piloting the control module of their spaceship to battle a heavy Thanagarian freighter, while Katar tangles with the Shadow-Thief on the main portion. All of the blacks on this page are fantastic, and there is a lot of them, from the starfield to the Shadow-Thief himself to the shilouettes in the final panel. Nolan's pencils are pretty tight, showing nice proportions and anatomy -- except, of course, for the Thief! The third panel, where Shadow-Thief draws his katana to attack Hawkman, is marvelous in the contrast between the realistic look of Katar and the ship and then the flat, elongated body of the Thief.
I suspect that a lot of my appreciation for the Shadow-Thief comes from his look, which has always appealed to me. On top of that I also like how his powers -- not being able to be touched -- make him a good foil for heroes who tend to use hand-to-hand weapons. The Post-Crisis revamp of him which goes down in Hawkworld is subtle but effective, making him an industrial spy and ninja, and giving him some combat skills to make him more of a physical threat.
In any event this page looks amazing. I've never bought original art pages before, because money, but this is a nice example which would look sharp framed up in my bonus room.
Disclaimer: I do not own or have possession of this art. I am simply re-posting it from the site indicated below.
Image: Hawkworld #5, page 19, 1990, Graham Nolan and Rick Burchett, image obtained from Romitaman.com.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
--The incredibly Post-Crisis tone of the book. I knew this was part-and-parcel with this book before I started, so no shock here. The Post-Crisis DCU, from my readings, seemed driven by editorial mandate to remove itself as far as possible from anything Pre-Crisis which might be construed as "silly," "kid stuff," or otherwise "not serious." As a kid growing up, I remember that being the knock on DC books -- I specifically remember my brother telling me once to not bother with a certain DC series because "they're all talk" -- and reading the early issues of Hawkworld pretty much confirms this. I can only assume that DC was trying to raise their profile as the place for more discriminating readers with their "serious" stories. This series is so straight faced that even the comic relief (such as it is) is serious.
--The appearance of the Silver Age supporting cast, namely Mavis Trent, Joe Tracy, and Commissioner Emmett. This one was a less expected development. I had figured, what with Hawkworld being such a broad departure from both the Silver Age and then post-Shadow War series, that we would not see the classic Midway City folks cropping up in Chicago. At the very least, I figured, well, we might get the Commissioner, but that's it. So the appearance of Joe and Mavis was a bit of a welcome surprised for me.
Turning Mavis into a love interest for Katar is a turn which seems to make sense, and at least she's not as bat-spit crazy as she was back in the 60s. I wonder if she ever makes it onto lists of "characters revamped by the Crisis," since as we all know, the last time we saw Mavis she was, well, not doing so hot.
Joe Tracy, so far, has not had much to do in the series, other than pop up from time to time to talk to Katar and Shayera. Given his history in the Shadow War, if he turns out to be more than he seems, I won't be super surprised, but right now I figure he will stay as a cypher. The same goes for the Commissioner -- Shayera's interactions so far have been more with her Sergeant and the officers she is working with, but at least he got brought back. Somehow I doubt he will have any connection to Thanagarian technology this time out.
--The politics, including the comparison of the values of America and Thanagar. I knew that this series was political in nature, and given the amount of politics in the miniseries, that's a reasonable approach. I was not, prepared, however, for a treatise on the Constitution and whether or not Americans actually believe it. It's an interesting discussion, and to their credit Truman and Ostrander don't take the easy way out with either flag waving patriotism, nor downtrodden "blame America first" cynicism. So while I think the intent is perfectly clear with the political aspects of the series so far, at least it's been well written.
--Shadow Thief shows up within the first 6 issues. Totally did not see this coming. And I love that Graham Nolan and Rick Burchett channel Kubert with his wonderfully abstract anatomy and inky blackness when Sands uses the shadow field. It makes me happy to see both Byth and Shadow Thief being thorns in the Hawks' sides in the Post-Crisis era. No I am awaiting Matter Master and Ira Quimby!
So far, 5 issues in, I am very much enjoying the series for what it is -- a serious-minded reboot of Hawkman for the Post-Crisis universe. It's not nearly as fun to read as the Silver Age stories, but that doesn't mean it's not good. All it means is that you have to approach this series with the correct context, and keep in mind the time when it was published, both for DC Comics in general and the world at large.
At the end of the day, "A good story, well told," is what I am looking for, and Truman, Ostrander, Nolan, et. al. have been delivering that.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
In any event, one of the highlight guests for me this year at HeroesCon was Tim Truman, whom devoted Hawkfans will immediately recognize as the writer and artist of the prestige format series. And that's exactly what I brought for him to sign, unsurprisingly. (I left out the fact that I found all three issues for a dollar, but really.) I got a chance to talk briefly with Mr. Truman about Hawkworld, and the changes wrought by the series.
The story which Mr. Truman told me was an interesting one -- Hawkworld was originally intended to be a joint project with him on art and Gardner Fox was supposed to write! But, unfortunately, the right before he began work on the series, Truman said he received a call from DC informing him of Mr. Fox's untimely passing. So the project was put on the shelf for a little bit, and became double duty for Truman. Man, I wonder how different the series would have been with Fox writing it? Fox's Thanagar from the Silver Age was a utopia, which the Thanagar we got in Hawkworld is anything but.
The other comment which Mr. Truman made was that the whole concept of Hawkworld was to be a love letter to the Hawkman work done by Joe Kubert. And while Kubert's influence on Hawkman cannot be overstated, I personally don't see a whole lot of Kubert's swooping, pulp-influenced style in Truman's work. But I suppose there is a fine line between aping and paying homage.
The other big highlight guest with some Hawk work in his portfolio was cosmic scribe extraordinaire Jim Starlin! Along with my copy of The Death Of Captain Marvel, I thought the best way to use my short amount of time with Mr. Starlin would be to bring my copies of the Hawkman Special and Adam Strange Special. Now, part of this was my desire to be the only guy who would bring these books for him to sign, but I also wanted to talk about the Rann-Thanagar Holy War/Strange Adventures story and what was planned for Hawkman as part of the Abberant Six.
I told Mr. Starlin that I really enjoyed this run of DC Cosmic, including Synnar The Demiurge and the re-emergence of an alien Hawkman. Mr. Starlin said that he had every intention, directed by DC, to turn Hawkman back into a science fiction character again, but those plans came off the rails when Geoff Johns said he needed Hawkman as he was for Blackest Night, and that took precedent over what he was doing. Which jives with what I had speculated back in the day, for whatever that's worth nowadays.
Mr. Starlin also told me a tidbit which really amused me -- he admitted that at the time he first drew him, Hawkman was the hardest character to draw! All of the feathers and details apparently drove him crazy. But he also admitted that another character supplanted Hawkman as the most difficult to draw -- Annihilus, to the point that he redesigned him to make him easier to draw!
The other Hawk creator I spoke to was Frank Tieri, who stepped in after the Rob Liefeld dust up. But we talked about his work on Iron Man rather than the Winged Wonder; in any event, Mr. Tieri is a great guy and a lot of fun to talk to.
All told, HeroesCon was a successful convention; I have often said that you get out of a con what you put into it. I tend to go to comic cons for more the capitalistic side than the creative side, but while I was able to reap some benefit from the back issue bins (DC Comics Presents #74!), I got a lot more out of Artist's Alley this time out.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
I had seen the Wonder Woman of these before, but the others, including Hawkgirl, are new to me. I would have figured that being of a 1940's art deco style, the subject would have been Shiera Saunders, between the helmet design and the colors on her costume, it's clear that this is Shayera. Then again, the fact that it is Thanagar Tree-Top Tours should have also been a dead giveaway, but hey.
My favorite part of the piece is the posing, specifically the legs. Very much in the "good girl" sort of pose which was common for pin-ups. Legs together, toes pointed, tush sticking out (although covered with her jacket), it all works very nicely. I also like that her arms are toned but not muscular, and her chest is ample without being ridiculous or over-the-top. The helmet is a nice take on her swoopy Silver Age helmet, with the colors reminding me a bit of the Nicola Scott designed Earth-2 Kendra Saunders helmet. The aviator goggles hanging around her neck similarly call back to this.
The jetpack/wing harness is very amusing. I like the WW2 style artwork on the side, designating it as "The Hammer," along with her morningstar mace and 5 tick marks, which I can only assume are her "kill" count.
Overall a very striking piece, which would look perfect hanging up in my bonus room amongst all the other nerd wall hangings.
Image: Hawkgirl "Bombshell" Art Print, 2014, Ant Lucia.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
I have had some contact with a fellow (but admittedly much more prolific, talented, and respected) podcaster about doing a show about Hawkworld, so once I have more information on that I will communicate it here. As such I don't want to get into my thoughts too much in this space, but I will share a couple notes.
First off, while I knew that this series was where the utopian Thanagar was jettisoned for the dystopian "modern" version, I was not privy to the details of the story, only some broad strokes (namely, Byth's presence). So the twists and turns in the story were fresh to me, and I very much enjoyed being surprised by them. I liked how Tim Truman included some subtle aspects of the original Katar Hol in the personality of the new one, but made him a more complex and involved character. I mean, I'm a huge fan of the Silver Age Katar, but he's, by design, a straightforward kind of guy. This version has a lot more facets.
I also really appreciated the themes of dichotomy and duality, which is common in science fiction comics but very well executed in this series. Like it says on the back cover: As Above, So Below.
Truman's art is a great fit, especially on the nice paper of the square bound, prestige format books. I get a strong 2000 AD vibe from his work, which I suspect may be a combination of the subject matter and the muted colors. But considering said subject matter, the art fits very nicely and I think the overall presentation is helped out tremendously by having Truman handle the visuals as well as the words.
I also have to laugh, because I was reminded of how I acquired these books while listening to an episode of the Quarter Bin Podcast, hosted by Professor Alan Middleton. The Professor was discussing the three part prestige format book Adam Strange: Planet Heist, which he pulled, complete, out of a quarter bin. While I did not get quite as good a deal as that, I did get the entire series from a discount bin... for a buck. Talk about getting your money's worth on your comics! (As an aside, I heartily recommend the Professor's show, along with the other shows over on the Relatively Geeky Podcast Network. Go give 'em a listen!)
Overall, really dug this series and now will be queueing up the ongoing Hawkworld series as my next bit of Hawk reading. And given that, how else can I sign off but...
As Above, So Below.
Image: Hawkworld #1, Tim Truman, 1989, image obtained from Mike's Amazing World Of DC Comics.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
As I mentioned yesterday, the DC May 2104 solicits are posted, and we have this offering: Earth-2 Hawkgirl!
DC COMICS EARTH 2: HAWKGIRL, SUPERMAN AND BATMAN ACTION FIGURES
Based on the designs of the hit monthly comic book EARTH 2. Batman, Superman and Hawkgirl continue the battle against the hordes of Apokolips to protect all life on their Earth as they know it!
BATMAN - 6.75"
SUPERMAN - 6.75"
HAWKGIRL - 6.6"
EACH FIGURE SOLD SEPARATELY
* Action Figures * $24.95 US • On Sale August 2014 * Allocations May Occur
Kendra Saunders comes equipped with her pistol, and it looks like a working holster for it as well. In her left hand, she appears to be holding her combat knife, but it is hard to see as the tip is pointing right at the camera. The giveaway: the sheath on her right boot. Her long ponytail is off to the side in the solicit image, but it's unclear what kind of articulation it has, if any. It may just be on a ball joint in the back of her head, but if it was up to me I would make it a bendy piece. The blue and black look nice, and the wings retain the angelic quality and coloring from when Nicola Scott first drew her a couple of years back.
The price is a bit steep compared to retail toys but these "adult collector" toys have been essentially at this price point for a while. Trust me, the price of oil has really taken it's toll on the price of poly-plastics.
Not sure if I will pick her up or not. I really like Kendra's new duds (the blue is such a twist from what one normally expects for a Hawk costume), but I have severely cut back my spending on toys... the $150 I dropped on X-Plus's vinyl Sanda and Gaira not withstanding. But I have to admit, she would look super sharp on my Hawkman shelf!
Image: New 52 Earth-2 Hawkgirl toy, 2014, DC via Newsarama.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Alright, this is not really Hawk-related, but please bear with me and hear me out.
I have been hearing for several years now how "DC made $3.99 the standard price point" for comics in this country. I have long pushed back on this, saying that DC generally (but not always, especially for miniseries) kept their standard length books at $2.99, whereas Marvel arbitrarily decided which books were $2.99 and which were $3.99. But this being the Internet, Marvel == Good; DC == Bad; so my cries fell on deaf ears.
So with the May 2014 solicits for both Marvel and DC going live on Newsarama, I decided to do a little research. I'd get a count of how many books each publisher put out at each of the two price points. Maybe I was off base with my statements, and that was why no one was listening. Some hard numbers should make things clear.
For reference, here are the solicitation lists I used -- Marvel, and DC. As I said, both are from Newsarama.
Here's what I found:
Books Priced $2.99:
-- Marvel: 8
-- DC: 50
Books Priced $3.99:
-- Marvel: 60
-- DC: 17
As you can see, Marvel has far, far more titles at the $3.99 price point than DC does for the month of May 2014. But, I wanted to make sure I was comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges. It's fair for a publisher to charge more for a title with more pages than standard. So maybe Marvel is releasing a lot of oversized books with extra material in them, which would explain the higher amount of $3.99 books. So I took a look at page counts.
Books with page count of 32 pages (with ads):
-- Marvel: 67
-- DC: 61
Books with page count of 40 pages (with ads):
-- Marvel: 5
-- DC: 4
Books with page count of 48 pages (with ads):
-- Marvel: 4
-- DC: 3
So, no, Marvel is not publishing appreciably more oversized comics than DC is. Pretty cut and dried, isn't it? Certainly seems that way to me.
Now, I suspect that a lot of these higher price point comics from Marvel are priced that way because of the inclusion of the "free" digital codes in the books. At this point, the only series I read from Marvel is Iron Man (natch) (although that Nightcrawler book written by Chris Claremont is seriously tempting), and that series has been $3.99 with a digital code for a while. But here's the rub: I don't use those digital codes. I have redeemed a few of them, but at the end of the day I read my new comics physically, reserving my tablet for older comics, generally. So why can't Marvel give me a break, knock a buck off the price, and not include the code?
Of course that will not happen. And in the interest of full disclosure, I get a discount through DCBS on every comic I buy (save for the odd one here and there I get from the LCS). But in today's market, every dollar and every cent really matters, and those start to add up really quickly.
Now, none of this means anything from a quality standpoint. Please, read what you like and can afford to buy, and if you don't like what DC, Marvel, or any publisher is doing then make yourself heard. But I wanted to put these numbers out there and at least make everyone aware that this popularly held notion that DC is gouging readers is simply not borne out by the statistics.
Some additional notes:
-- Obviously, these numbers are not looking at trade paperbacks, hardcovers, or other collected editions, nor toys and other collectibles.
-- Both publishers have 9 titles at the $4.99 price point. All of these are either oversized (ranging from 40 pages to 64 pages) or a "combo pack" which includes a digital access code.
-- Hawk-related: We're getting an New 52 Earth-2 Hawkgirl figure! More on this in later post.
-- Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster is FINALLY getting released! Woo Woo Woo! You Know It!