Wednesday, July 23, 2014

First Impressions: Hawkworld

As I begin my read through of the Hawkworld ongoing, I am struck by several aspects, some of which I expected, some of which I did not.

--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.


Count Drunkula said...

Hawkman has always been one of my favorite heroes, but a lot of that has to do solely with his appearance. Most of my exposure to the character in comics was from the '90s Hawkman series around ZERO HOUR and his appearances in team books like Justice League of America and JSA.

A couple years ago I found the Shadow War miniseries in a quarter bin, and I've started to collect the series that followed it. Hoping to read through this whole run before moving on to Hawkworld.

Luke said...

Shadow War and Volume 2 are a lot of fun. The end of the series kinds of falls apart, but it's a good ride while it lasts, I think. Let me know what you think when you get a chance to read them!