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Hawkman #14

Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Don Kramer (p), Prentis Rollins (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with the Gentleman Ghost making an offer to Chief Nedal, before moving on to look in on Hawkman & Hawkgirl, who are still involved in heated fisticuffs over the idea that Hawkgirl is dead set on making Nedal pay for the murder of her parents. We then see the Gentleman Ghost arrives on the scene, and after he learns that Hawkgirl doesn't remember him, her previous lives, or his connection to Hawkman, we see the villain takes the time to detail his murder by Hawkman back in the Old West, when Hawkman mistakenly believed that the Gentleman Ghost had been trying to have his way with Hawkgirl, and he killed him in an ill founded jealous rage. We also learn that the Gentleman Ghost became tied to the unseen force that continually reincarnated the Hawks, so he's unable to leave this world, which acts as his primary motivation for his undying hatred of Hawkman. We then see the Gentleman Ghost has the Hawks racing back to the museum, as he's let it slip that Nedal has gone there with the intention of killing as many of the Hawks friends as he can, and we see at least one member of this book's supporting cast falls victim to a fatal gunshot wound. We then see the action slips out onto the museum roof, where the Gentleman Ghost makes one final twist of the knife, as he kills Nedal after the Hawks decided to spare the man's life.

Comments:
Before this most recent series the only real exposure that I received of Hawkman was his time in the Justice League of America, so to this end I'm not all that familiar with the villains that Hawkman encountered within the pages of his solo series. With this said though the Gentleman Ghost has always struck me as a villain who I'd like to see in action, as he's certainly one of the more distinctive looking villains around, and I've always been curious as to what exactly this character was capable of, and to a lesser extent why he had picked Hawkman as his hero of choice. This issue acts as a pretty solid primer for the character of the Gentleman Ghost, as not only do we get a pretty good idea of what he's capable of, but we also learn how he's connected to Hawkman, and why he rarely strays off to torment another hero. I love the idea that Hawkman was the one who ended the Gentleman Ghost's life back in the old West, and that his death at the hands of Hawkman has tied him to the cycle that continues to brings the Hawks back to life again & again. I also enjoy the idea that the Gentleman Ghost has recognized this connection, and that his inability to move on to what he perceives to be a better life, has left him with a burning hatred of Hawkman. A nice simple motivation that works exceptionally well.

I also enjoy the idea that the Gentleman Ghost is allowed to commit some acts that shake up this book's status quo, as while the book hasn't really developed its supporting players all that much it's always nice when a villain threatens to do great harm to a hero's world and then is allowed to accomplish some measure of damage before the heroes intervene. My one quibble is that the book does play it a bit safe when it comes to Hawkgirl's hatred of her parents killer, as while I realize it wouldn't do to have her involved in cold blooded murder, I was a little disappointed that Geoff Johns took the time to generate such a heated atmosphere, only to drop it so abruptly when it didn't serve the story to have her in such a murderous temperament. Now I realize that there are literally hundreds of stories where a hero has gone right to the edge only to pull back when they realize what they are doing, but having her realize her actions were wrong without taking her right to the edge does serve to invalidate the previous material that was so dependent on her rage driving her to do things she normally wouldn't. Having the Gentleman Ghost become the man's executioner was also rather convenient, especially coming on the heels of Hawkgirl's decision to spare the man's life.

The guest-art on this book is pretty impressive, as Don Kramer is a name that I've never seen before, but after this issue I'd be happy to see it again, as he brings a high energy style that also manages to put a fairly impressive amount of detail on the page. The art also does some nice work on the book's big impact shots, as I loved that panel where the Gentleman Ghost moves through Hawkman's body on page nine, as it does a wonderful job conveying the idea that this is a painful attack. The gun fight in the museum is also nicely conveyed by the art, thanks in large part to the opening scene where a member of the supporting players takes what looks to be a fatal shot to the chest, as this opening death adds a very real element of danger to the follow up material. The battle of the rooftop is also pretty well done, as Hawkman's anger is nicely realized, as is the fear on the man's face as he tightens the noose around the man's neck. The panel where the Gentleman Ghost reveals his true face also has a nice horror movie quality to it, though I much rather prefer the invisible man appearance that the character normally employs. The last page of this issue is also pretty impressive, as it's almost a poster worthy shot of this character.

Final Word:
This issue earns it's high rating thanks in large part to the Gentleman Ghost, as he proves to be a very interesting character, who reminds me a bit of the Shade. He has a nice pretense of civility about him, so one can't help but look upon Hawkman as an uncouth clod when he's interacting with the Gentleman Ghost, but the book also takes the time to remind us that he is very much a villain, as he instigates an attack that leaves a woman dead, before moving on the outright murder of a man. The idea that Hawkman was responsible for his death, as well as his inability to leave this world is also nicely done, as it provides a fairly solid motivation for his continued actions against the Hawks, while at the same time it also would seem the suggest that any one Hawkman actively murders will come back to haunt him. As for the material involving the Hawks, I did find Hawkgirl's sudden decision to drop her murderous urges was a bit poorly handled, as this is not the type of attitude change that is best handled off-panel.



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