Current Reviews


Hawkman Secret Files and Origins #1

Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2002
By: Michael Deeley

“Hidden Past, Hidden Future”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Patrick Gleason & Christian Alamy

“Worth More than Gold”
Writer: Dan Curtis Johnson & J. H. Williams III
Artists: Greg Scott & Mick Gray

Profile Pages & Pin-ups
Writer: Geoff Johns/Jim Beard/Eliot Brown
Artists: Eliot Brown/Rags Morales/Michael Blair/Andrew Pepoy/Walt Simonson/Richard Case/Rick Burchett/Patrick Gleason& Keith Champagne/Bryan Talbot

Publisher: DC comics

We see the first lives of Hawkman and Hawkgirl as Prince Khufu and Princess Chay-ara in ancient Egypt. They are betrayed and murdered by their high priest, Hath-Set. In the present, Kristopher Roderic finds Hath-Set’s knife and hears Hath-Set’s voice. Meanwhile, the Shadow Thief is having trouble with his shadow vest, and Hawkgirl demonstrates considerably less respect for history than her partner.

There are exactly two reasons to buy a ‘Secret Files’ comic. The first is to build your reference library on the DCU. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to a complete post-Crisis history of DC comics. The profile pages do offer useful information on characters, such as first appearances, brief life histories, and current situations. And since many characters have more than one ‘Secret Files’ book, changes and additions to character histories are also included.

The second, less frequent, reason is Cameron Chase. Chase is a character created by D. Curtis Johnson, J. H. Williams III, and Mick Gray. The three of them wrote and drew the monthly ‘Chase’ series in 1997. It lasted 10 issues, plus her first appearance in ‘Batman’ #550. (Track them down. Good stuff.) Chase is an agent of the Department of Extra-normal Operations, D.E.O. The D.E.O. is a government agency created to track, find, and train superhumans. It also has a secret agenda of finding the means to kill them. ‘Chase’ offered a unique, ground-level, political perspective on heroes in the DCU, just as ‘Suicide Squad’ did in the 1980’s. Sadly, the book was cancelled before it found its audience. Cameron Chase now appears almost exclusively in these ‘Secret Files’ books, most of which are written by Johnson. A few also have either Williams or Gray on art.

The true purpose of these books is promotion. They are marketing tools used to advertise a new series or story event. ‘Catwoman’ gets one later this month. “Our Worlds at War” and “Joker’s Last Laugh” each got one, and each was the highlight of their crossover. (Good ‘Chase’ story in the ‘Joker’ book.) And whenever there’s supposed to be a big change in an existing monthly title, there’s usually a ‘Secret Files’ book to go with it. That’s how heroes like the Flash and Batman can have three specials, and only one origin.

Still, if you’re interested in the character, or a die-hard Chase fan, there’s usually something useful in these books. It could be information on a long-forgotten character; or hints of upcoming storylines. Rarely do they contain information that’s absolutely necessary to read. But they can offer some depth and background to the character’s series.

So, Hawk fans, is this book worth your 5 bucks? Well, we get the origin of the heroes’ first lives. It’s pretty much the same as the origin of the Golden Age Hawkman. The return of Hath-Set and the Gentlemen Ghost are promised. And the new Dr. Fate and Blue Beetle may be appearing in a later storyline. The art isn’t by the same team as the monthly series, but it’s an almost-perfect imitation. The pin-up art is nice, if you like that sort of thing. And, of course, there’s the Chase story.

The Chase story is inked by Gray, but penciled by Greg Scott. It’s hard to follow who’s talking at the story’s start since we don’t always see the characters when they talk. There’s mention of a mole at the D.E.O., which hints at a larger story running through these short tales. Hopefully we’ll see this plot developed in a full-length book. The story itself sees Chase and her partner search for some missing Nth metal, the anti-gravity metal used in Hawkman’s wings. It’s dry stuff with a sappy ending. Even desperate Chase fans can pass this up.

Final Word:
Not essential reading, but if you’re reading Hawkman now, and you’ve got 5 extra bucks, give this a look. Michael Blair’s pin-up of Hawkgirl almost makes it worth it. I just love those abs!

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