Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Read: Hawkman v.2

In an effort to actually, ya know, READ my Hawkman comics which have taken up seemingly permanent residence in a series of boxes in my bedroom, I finished up Volume 2 of Hawkman this past week.  This is the book, you will remember which spun out of the Shadow War miniseries (see here, here, here, and here), and continued to address the quiet invasion of Earth by agents of Thanagar.

At least, it does until Tony Isabella leaves after issue #9.  Dan Mishkin was scripting over Isabella's plots, and he takes over writing chores proper in issue #11 (after a crossover with Action Comics).  Normally this wouldn't be much of a problem, but Isabella leaves right in the middle of the blow-off of the entire Shadow War story, so the ending which has been building for over a year ends up being a little wonky in the grand scheme of things.  Before he heads out, though, Isabella does some really neat stuff, including introducing the evil Wingman Deron Ved, AKA Dawkwing (no, not that Darkwing) as the leader of the invasion.  Darkwing's schtick is that he was the first Wingman to earn the Honor Wings, with Katar Hol being the second.  The running battles between him and the Hawks are very nicely done, and Richard Howell and Carlos Garzon  make the art pop, despite it's somewhat tame "DC house style" finished look.

Mishkin also turns in some cool story beats as well, including a council of Thanagarians using an android duplicate of Hyathis to rule from the sidelines, and a very Silver Age-y story where good portions of Thanagar are turned into giant monsters.  And you folks know how I love giant monsters.  

But then everything sort of goes off the rails.

The finale of the series shifts the action from Midway City to... New Orleans, I guess, although it is never spelled out.  And in the wake of Katar and Shayera closing the book on their lives as Thanagarians, our hero becomes extremely unsure of himself: indecisive, irrational, and ineffective.  There's a lot of stuff about ghosts, the Gentleman Ghost, and realms of the afterlife (where you are not, like, "dead dead," but maybe just "mostly dead") and the roiling storm in Hawkman's heart.  And while Hawkman having a tortured, angry heart might fly for the modern rendition of the character, it doesn't ring true for this one.  The last issue features a raging Hawkman essentially battling a hurricane, while Shayera and the Gentleman Ghost try to breach their way back into the world of the living.  I can see what Mishkin was going for, but as essentially a capstone on the character before Hawkworld, it doesn't really work for me.

(The fact that Howell and Garzon didn't do this issue doesn't help it; Ed Hannigan and Don Heck are game but it doesn't flow from the previous issues.)

Ultimately my feeling on this series was one of missed potential.  I dug the Shadow War mini and thought that a series which really dug into that concept would be a lot of fun.  And for a while, it did exactly that, and I had fun reading it.  But it was clear that the sales were not there, and DC did some shake-ups, and in the end, it was too little too late.  Katar and Shayera as we knew them were going to be on their way out; Hawkworld was looming, for good or ill.

And it looms for me too, for that is the next series on my Hawkman read-through.  Maybe I'll even blog some about it.  What do you think?

The Shadow War Is Over... As Above, So Below.  


Count Drunkula said...

About a year ago I found all four issues of Shadow War for a dollar--total. I really enjoyed the series, but I think I've only read one or two issues from the series that followed. I'll have to track those down someday.

And absolutely blog about more issues if you can!

Luke said...

If you can find them cheap, I'd say to pick them up. I had fun reading them, even if ultimately the series ran out of steam about 2/3rds of the way through. But don't pay more than a buck an issue for them.