Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Rags Morales (p), Michael Bair (i)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
As Hawkman battles the undead versions of himself that the Headhunter has risen from the grave, we see this battle makes Hawkman realize that the idea that he's anything more than a savage warrior is a false image, and he spends the rest of the issue acting like a head case. However this newfound savagery does give Hawkman a decided edge in his battle with the Headhunter, as Hawkman is able to make pretty quick work of this villain.
Before this arc began Geoff Johns offered up the comment a couple times that Headhunter was going to be the Joker of Hawkman's rogues gallery, and now that the arc has wrapped up I have to say that rather than the Joker, he's given us Killer Croc. I mean the Headhunter doesn't bring anything all that compelling to the table, as his entire master-plan consists of chopping Hawkman's head off so he can absorb the vast knowledge that Hawkman has built up over the centuries. It's a bit like offering us Jason from the Friday the 13th franchise, and expecting us to accept that he's the same as Norman Bates because they've both killed a woman in the shower. I mean this issue offers up Headhunter's back-story, where we learn he's exactly what he appears to be, and after learning that he's a genuine member of a jungle tribe that practiced headhunting, Geoff Johns tacks on utterly predictable premise that the Headhunter has spent the past seven decades lurking the back alleys of St. Roch leaving a string of headless corpses in his wake. This is followed by an incredibly abrupt battle where Hawkman is able to make the Headhunter look like a glorified punching bag, and while the battle nicely conveys Hawkman's rage, the Headhunter isn't allowed to be anything more that a target for this rage. However, I do like the idea that Hawkman looks to have come to the decision that he's going to be an animalistic warrior.
As for the art, Rags Morales continues to offer up some of his best work yet on this series, as there's a wonderful sense of energy on the page, and the newly discovered levels of savagery that emerge from within Hawkman in this issue is nicely expressed by the art. Also while the battle is a bit one-sided, and Geoff Johns seems to be in a mad dash to pull us away from it a quick as humanly possible, the credit page shot of Hawkman tearing into his undead past lives was visually exciting. The final battle also did a pretty good job capturing Hawkman's newfound brutality, with his final blow that defeats the Headhunter being particularly effective. Plus one has to love a scene where two characters slam into a car with enough force to rip through it like it was made of balsa wood. The montage of the various battles that Hawkman fights after his battle with the Headhunter is also nicely done, as we get a good look at why we should be concerned.
The idea that Hawkman would suddenly realize that his pretense of being a hero was all an act and that in reality he's a ruthless warrior who deems a simple purse snatcher as a vile creature worth of having his head smashed in, was delivered in such an abrupt manner that it's a bit difficult to fully accept. However, even though it's arrived at in a manner that I felt was a bit lazy, the idea itself is fairly engaging, and I hope that Geoff Johns is willing to take the idea in the direction he appears to be heading in, as while I like the idea of Hawkman as a member of the JSA, Black Adam's group does seem like a far better fit for this new Hawkman. This in turn is likely to bring Hawkman into conflict with Hawkgirl who doesn't look ready to make the jump that Hawkman makes regarding her own inner warrior. However, while the emergence of the new Punisher style attitude is an interesting aftereffect of the encounter, the Headhunter was a bit disappointing as he's little more than a creepy premise that never emerges beyond his original bogeyman status.
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