Monday, September 15, 2014

Read: Hawkworld Crossover Tie-Ins!

As I continue my read through of Hawkworld (I'm right in the middle of Escape From Thanagar right now), one of the oddities of the early 90s DC cropped up, as the book was a part of not one, but two line-wide crossovers at the same time.  Hawkworld Annual #2 (street date 6/25/91), issue #15 (7/16/91), and #16 (8/13/91) made Katar and Shayera a part of both Armageddon 2001 and War Of The Gods, in the span of less than 8 weeks.  I ended up reading them a little backwards, but I will address that below.  (h/t to Mike over at for the street dates!)

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!  

Wait, who?


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.

No comments: