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Hawkman #20

Posted: Sunday, October 5, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Rags Morales (p), Michael Bair and McMurray (i)

Publisher: D.C. Comics

Plot:
After a visiting Firefly learns Hawkman is not particularly kind to villains that try to burn down his town, we see Kendra lets Hawkman know that she's going out on a date with a fellow student. As Hawkman accepts this news rather well, we see his attempt to vent his frustration on an abusive husband is brought to a shocking halt when he encounters the terrifying Headhunter.

Comments:
I'll give this issue full marks for it's explosive finish as the new villain in Hawkman's corner of the DCU certainly knows how to make an entrance. However, the seventeen pages leading up to this encounter are a shining example of why I've found it difficult to fully embrace this comic, as Geoff Johns seems to be of the mind that watching Hawkman breeze through his life with an uncanny ease is the way to entertain his readers. I mean I realize that Firefly is not exactly a major league baddie, and that Hawkman having a fairly easy go at taking him down is a quick and simple way to advertise the fact that he's got himself a lead character who is one tough cookie. However, from an entertainment standpoint this is a bit like Indiana Jones removing the idol at the beginning of the Temple of Doom without setting off the trigger, and making it safely out of the cave without encountering a single deadly trap. I mean narrow escapes, and scenarios that force your hero to think on their feet are the life blood of a successful action hero. However if every hurdle a hero encounters is easily overcome than all you have is a highly effective looking, but dreadfully dull action hero. I'm not saying Hawkman should be stumbling over his own feet, or be an emotional wreck over the situation with Kendra, but watching him breeze through the book without a care in the world is hardly the ideal situation either. Still the last five pages certainly look promising so I hope I'll be eating my words in the near future.

As for the art, Rags Morales is the victim of a rather bad inking job in the later half of the issue, as his highly detailed work is buried under a very heavy inking style, and the work ends up looking like it was done by an entirely different artist. However the opening half of the book is quite strong, as there a great shot of Hawkman and Hawkgirl bursting through the roof to rescue a mother and child from a burning building, and while the villain doesn't exactly get a great showing in this issue, the one page fight Firefly has with Hawkman is certainly visually impressive. There's also some nice work on the page where we see the female students in Hawkman's class are all hopelessly in love with their teacher. The final five pages of this issue are also wonderfully dark and ominous looking, with the final page shot being a truly gripping piece of art.

Final Word:
The arrival of the Headhunter in the final pages of this issue is enough to have me recommending this issue to Hawkman fans, as this is the first time this book has managed to convince me Hawkman was in serious trouble. However in order to arrive at this stage of the story one has to slog their way through some rather uninspired writing as Geoff Johns opens with a hamfisted attempt to present his heroes as angelic figures, before delivering a one page fight that lacks any real sense of danger or excitement. This is then followed up by several more pages where the book reminds us how stunningly good looking our two lead characters are before delving into a romance subplot that conveys absolutely no dramatic tension. Heck this issue even manages to make an appearance by the Atom boring, and that require a considerable effort. Still, the final pages do manage to make it easy to overlook the rather uneventful opening, as Hawkman is essentially ripped apart in this encounter, and left in a very bad way on that final page.



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