Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Rags Morales (p), Timothy Truman (i)
The book opens in the Old West where we see a masked rider arrives in the frontier town of St. Roch, and finds his way into the local tavern. We then see that with a few well placed questions the man is quickly brought up to date on recent events in the town, as he learns that the townspeople are in an uproar over the murder of one of their most beloved citizens. What's more we see the man accused of the crime is believed to be innocent, but the likely murderess is out kicking up a ruckus, and a lynch mob is being formed to hang the jailed suspect before the judge can make his way to St. Roch. We then see this conversation is interrupted when a young red-haired woman is accused of cheating at cards, and takes offense to this accusation. As the guns come out & the bullets fly, we see when the dust settles, our masked hero & the woman are the only ones left standing. We then see these two realize an instant connection, and they spend a little quality time together, before our hero sets out to rescue a man from the lynch mob. As we see our hero rescue the accused man from the noose, we see the woman steps in to help him make the escape from town, which marks the beginning of a long partnership.
To tell the truth I wasn't aware that DCU had itself any Western heroes, as aside from Jonah Hex & John Ostrander's "The Kents", I've never seen any sign that the company jumped on the Western bandwagon. As such Nighthawk & Cinnamon are wholly new creations to me, but by the end of this issue I had myself a pretty good idea of what to expect from these characters if they ever show up in these pages again. Now the two are pretty much what you would expect from Western characters, as Nighthawk is cut from the same cloth as the Lone Ranger, while Cinnamon is your typical female gunslinger, so she's got herself a fiery temper, and the short fuse to complete the set. Now the quick switch from complete strangers to lovers was a bit abrupt, but James Robinson only had twenty-two pages to work with, and the idea of reincarnated souls does allow for love at first site. The action also does a good job of playing up the character's talents, as Nighthawk performs a daring little stunt where one can't help but be impressed by his fighting prowess. The closing page wrap-up notes also do a nice job detailing the characters’ future path together.
With twenty-two pages to work with James Robinson can't get too elaborate with the plot, as he also has to make room for introducing the reader to this issue's protagonists, and establish their connection to the Hawkman legacy. As a result the main plot involves the old chestnut of a Western plot, that has an innocent man framed for a murder, while the real murderer sets out to create a lynch mob that will keep this person from getting a fair trial. It's not much of a plot to hang a story around, and the resolution is pretty run-of-the-mill, but I was left with the impression that more of our attention is suppose to be drawn to the characters themselves, and not the situation they become involved in. Still, I do wish that Jame Robinson had come up with a more imaginative plot to introduce these characters, as except for Nighthawk's fairly impressive stunt with the horses, this comic didn't offer up anything I hadn't already seen before. I mean James Robinson has visited the Western scenario before, during his "Starman" series, as one of his supporting players in that book was the reincarnated sheriff of Opal City, so I know he can deliver stronger material than this.
Tim Truman's work on the first eight issues of John Ostrander's "The Kents" convinced me that he's the ideal artist should anyone decide to launch a new Western monthly, so his involvement on this one issue visit to the old West was a welcome touch. Now I'm not sure if Rags Morales altered his style to suit the Western setting, or if Tim Truman exerted a stronger influence over the final product, but if his name hadn't been listed in the credits as the penciler, I would've sworn that this was 100% Tim Truman art. In any event the art earned this issue it's cooler than heck moment, as the scene where Nighthawk leaps from the back of the carriage into the midst of the posse that are charging after them, is an amazing bit of work. The gunplay that gives us our first introduction to Cinnamon is also pretty impressive, as the one page shot of her making that leap through the air with her gun ablazing is a great action shot, and the follow up shot of the aftermath is also worth a mention. The art also does a nice job conveying the murderous fury of the woman who is fanning the flames of the lynch mob, and I was surprised by the impact of the visual on the final page that detailed Nighthawk's final moment.
I'm been rather looking forward to this issue, as the "Times Past" issues that James Robinson delivered on the "Starman" series provided some of the best issues in the much missed title. Now this issue isn't quite as strong, as the plot that supports this issue is pretty familiar terrain when one has seen as many Westerns as I have, and James Robinson doesn't take the story anywhere too unexpected. Still the characters Nighthawk & Cinnamon make for an interesting duo, and I wouldn't mind a return visit to this era provided the plot they're involved in is a little more imaginative. As for the idea of Nighthawk & Cinnamon playing host to the reincarnated spirits of Hawkman & Hawkgirl, this idea does sound promising, as it will allow this book to pay visits to a number of different eras, and we can see these two discover each other again. I do hope their reunions don't always have them leaping into each others arms like they did in this issue though.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!