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Hawkman #19

Posted: Friday, September 12, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Scot Eaton (p), Ray Kryssing (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with Hawkman arriving at Shiruta, the capital city of Kahndaq, where we see he's come at the request of an archeologist who has uncovered a massive tomb that looks to be the final resting site of a queen and her two sons. As Hawkman delights in the enormity of this find, we see his happy mood is somewhat tempered by a series of unexplained pains, that he initially dismisses as simple muscle aches. As they go over the dig site we see Hawkman is able to locate the entrance to the tomb, and the pictures that have been etched onto its surface trigger a memory from his past, but it's from so far back that he can't recall fully why this tomb is important. We then see the group comes under attack by a giant bird creature, and when Hawkman suits up and takes to the air after this creature he finds this creature is the teammate of Black Adam, who arrives to let Hawkman know the tomb is that of his wife and children, and he will not allow their final resting place to be disturbed. As Hawkman quickly agrees with Black Adam's demands, we see Black Adam buried the site back under the desert sand with a single hand-clap. We then see he offers Hawkman membership in the new group he's formed, but Hawkman has some real concerns about the decidedly aggressive method this group employs, and as such he declines the invitation. The issue than ends with a scene where we learn the source of Hawkman's mystery pains.

Comments:
The cover to this issue strongly suggests that the story inside will feature a battle between Hawkman and Black Adam, and as such I won't deny that I was a little disappointed by the lack of conflict we find inside. Now given the fact that Black Adam is stronger, faster, and effectively immune to any attack Hawkman might've made, it probably wouldn't have been a long fight, and Geoff Johns would've have to make an active effort to come up with a way that Hawkman could conceivably hold his own in this fight. However, this issue doesn't even make the effort as instead Black Adam arrives in the issue to advance a plot that has been playing out over in the pages of the JSA. Now I'm sure most readers of this title are also JSA readers, but it is a bit worrisome that this book simply assumes this to be the case. Now I'll concede the scene is fairly easy to follow, and it doesn't really accomplish all that much beyond Hawkman being made an offer to join Black Adam's decidedly militant band of heroes. However, since this group is running around ripping villain's hearts out Hawkman isn't exactly inclined to say yes, and the book doesn't even take the time to even show us why he would be tempted. So in the end this was a shameless guest-appearance that did little more than mess about with a JSA subplot, while making little to no impact on this book's continuity whatsoever.

I always grow a bit concerned when a writer proclaims their next villainous creation is going to be the ultimate baddie our hero ever had to face, as it's so rarely the case anymore. Than again though Geoff Johns has had tremendous success revitalizing the Flash's Rogues Gallery, and he's also made several new additions like Murmer that are quite effective villains in their own right, so he has a fairly strong track record in his corner. Plus the simple fact of the matter is that Hawkman is a bit like Aquaman, in that once you get past the first couple of villains that comprises his Rogues Gallery (the Shadow Thief, the Gentleman Ghost), the cupboard starts looking a bit bare. That's why I'm more than willing to give Geoff Johns' new villain every opportunity to impress, and the brief little teaser we get in this issue certainly looks promising. I like the long range attack ability that this villain appears to possess, and while one would think Hawkman would be a little more concerned when he took notice that his mysterious pain was followed by bleeding, I guess being a big, brave super-hero one shouldn't be overly surprised that he was willing to ignore his own health concerns. The last pages of this issue also do a pretty fair job of selling the idea that this new villain has a pretty creepy gimmick, that allows him to gain information from his victims.

While the credit page doesn't indicate it as such I do hope that Scot Eaton is simply on board for a guest issue, as while his work is solid enough, I'm a big fan of Rags Morales’ work, and I'd hate to think he was off the book. Now since Scot Eaton looks to be the regular artist over on "Thor" I'm not overly concerned, but I'm a bit worried. In any event, the art is quite solid, as there's a fair amount of detail on the page and one has to enjoy the fact that the art seems to have made a real effort of playing up the idea that this adventure is taking place in a foreign country, as the backgrounds are littered with architecture that looks like a Middle-Eastern country, and the archaeological dig actually looks like a work site. Now the image that is uncovers on the tomb looks a little too polished, and there's one scene where Hawkman is looking at an image that is the spitting image of Black Adam, and yet he's unable to put the pieces together until Black Adam shows up to remind him of what this tomb is. Still, this is more a problem with the writing than the art. Now the big action in this issue as Hawkman battles a winged creature attacking the work site is pretty solid, and Black Adam gets a wonderful introductory moment. There's also a great little moment where we see the Hulk's hand-clap has nothing on Black Adam's.

Final Word:
A somewhat interesting issue for JSA readers as Hawkman gets a visit from Black Adam who invites him to join his merry band of extremely driven team, and Hawkman isn't exactly won over by the decidedly grim sales pitch that is made. I'll also give this issue credit for its fairly ominous introduction of the villain that Geoff Johns hopes will be Hawkman's ultimate arch-nemesis and I will confess the character does look like a fairly creepy creation, with a decidedly unsettling gimmick. By my best guess it would appear that Geoff Johns has taken the belief that many cannibal cultures hold that the consumption of a person's heart granted you that person's strength, and switch it so that this villain's consumption of his victim's brain matter grants him the person's knowledge. This certainly provides ample motive for why this villain would want to get his hand on Hawkman, and the hundreds of lifetimes he's got locked away inside his head. However, my excitement over the new villain's debut overshadows my actual interest in this month's adventure, as very little happens in this issue.



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