Of the four major storylines running through Brightest Day, including arcs featuring Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, and Hawkman, three have been consistently entertaining. The odd man out? Hawkman, whose story is easily the dud of the bunch. With each of the others successfully implementing a fun bit of revisionist history for their respective characters, Hawkman’s tale seems content to trample heavily over already well-trodden ground.
So, it should come as no surprise that an issue focusing almost exclusively on the adventures of Carter and Shiera Hall ends up as one of the worst installments of the series to date. As we’ve seen before, a flashback sequence once again attempts to set itself up as the driving force behind the present day scenes and its failure to stoke the fires of imagination is contagious to the rest of the issue.
Loyal DC aficionados will no doubt be familiar with the Hawks’ centuries old struggle against Hath-Set, the foe who has pursued the duo to their deaths time and time again in various reincarnated forms. It’s a rivalry that forms the solid core of a strong superhero mythology, one that benefits little from the addition of a second villain to the story. Yet, here Brightest Day is doing just that, piling new details on top of a premise that would have been best left undisturbed. As writer Geoff Johns’ work on Flash: Rebirth once demonstrated, more isn’t always better.
In lieu of an enthralling story, other flaws of this issue become more readily apparent–namely, the over reliance upon violence to give the book its dramatic heft. Page after page, Hawkman leaves a bloody trail of dismembered bad guys, while the sadism Hawkgirl’s captors is dialed up to near comical levels. It comes across as a cheap tactic to make the story fare feel weightier, and it’s a poor and awkward fit for a series whose plots have been more traditional.
Even at its best, Brightest Day could never fool anyone into thinking that it’s a comics masterpiece. Still, the bulk of its plot threads have often been interesting enough to cover up its rather simplistic storytelling techniques. When that interest wanes, however, as it is wont to do whenever Hawkman and Hawkgirl step onto the page, this book’s defects can’t be denied.