Current Reviews


Hawkman #26

Posted: Saturday, March 27, 2004
By: Ray Tate


Writer: Josh Siegal
Artists: John Byrne(p), Larry Stucker(i), Hi-Fi(c)
Publisher: DC

This week's issue of Hawkman ties in to "The Tenth Circle" which some readers may refer to as JLA versus the vampires. The only reason why I bought the book is because John Byrne is on drawing duty.

John Byrne last graced the feathers of Hawkman and Hawkwoman in Action Comics. Although these Hawks were Katar and Shayera Hol, and naturally despite being set in the post-Crisis DC, despite their teaming up with the post-Crisis Superman, despite returning in Superman issue eighteen--also set in the post-Crisis, these stories do not count in DC's alleged continuity.

DC's continuity consists of Barry Allen's gravestone, of course Babs Gordon's wheelchair and Kara's corpse. I don't believe she has returned. The badly drawn teen Batman discovered in Superman/Batman will no doubt turn out to be the daughter of Lois Lane and Lana Lang to compliment the bad idea of Clark Kent and Lex Luthor "fathering" the fake Superboy, or she'll be another refugee from the silver age Krypton that was readily accessible in the Phantom Zone in several execrable issues of the Superman titles. Forgive me. Reading Hawkman just irritates. It reminds me that once Katar and Shay survived the Crisis until some idiot decided otherwise.

We no longer have Katar and Shay; the latter of the pair exists only on the Cartoon Network's Justice League and in the Adventureverse. Inferior copies complete with the personal baggage that accompanies every post-Crisis dilution of an icon have replaced these heroes. At least this issue looks superior.

John Byrne brilliantly executes a flawed story by Josh Siegal. His Hawkman looks tough and bears the metaphorical scars of experience. His perfect look however disappears when the Winged Wonder removes his helmet. It took me a few minutes, but I comprehend now why the straight, brown wet-look ill fits Hawkman. The earth-one Hawkman had curly black hair which when compared to the fifties and sixties styles of crew-cuts and short straights would look ethnic and alien. The earth-two Hawkman had blonde hair, which fits with angelic imagery and nicely contrasted that of the earth-one Hawkman. Why does the post-Crisis Hawkman have brown hair? Well, it's what was left and red would look sillier. This is the kind of typical laissez-faire attitude in character design that robs most of DC's books of depth.

Hawkgirl benefits the most from soaring out of Geoff Johns' talons. Johns portrayed her with the intelligence of a below average turnip. Thanks to Byrne and Siegal, Kendra improves in a giant leap. She forms intelligently constructed sentences, exhibits warmth and does not; repeat does not, thrust out her flower-panty clad buttocks to an invisible camera. On the other hand, I really would have preferred the vampires not victimize her. Her fate is a little too convenient and serves just to light a fire under Hawkman's plumage. This type of race-against-the-clock type plot could have been just as well served had both Hawkman and Hawkgirl tried to destroy the vampires to save a victimized innocent civilian or a group of them.

Josh Siegal has written some recommended issues of Justice League Adventures, but his foray into DC's so-called continuity leaves behind mixed results. The story relies on the plot point of Hawkman's past lives, which are thankfully alluded to up front. Though I'm not exactly certain how the limitations of religion work in the tale. Mr. Siegal's point seems to be that reincarnation cannot diminish the power of a servant of the Christian god, but given some of Hawkman's incarnations breaking Commandments left and right, I am not entirely convinced that the power of Hawkman's previous life could work in this context. Still, admittedly, once the little twist is revealed, it's fairly neat.

Mr. Siegal bases his vampires on popular legends of the creatures. His forms of the undead are allergic to sunlight, holy symbols, etc. This adherence to popular vampire lore creates a few holes in the plot of Hawkman and raises a major concern in "The Tenth Circle."

It's no spoiler to say that a vampire bit Kendra; you can guess this occurs by observing the cover. Like most vampire victims, she grows weak by the second. The traditional way to combat such a consequence of the bite is to give the victim a blood transfusion, yet such a counter measure is overlooked and unaddressed in Hawkman. Hawkman, bearing shield and mace, enters the lair of the vampires, but he wastes precious time fighting a pair of them when he could have merely beheaded them with the axe that stubbornly swings at his side. I don't even know why he's holding a mace. This weapon would not even sting a vampire.

The idea of Kendra being a vampire would naturally perturb Hawkman, but her reaction to his answer in the conclusion of the story is simply ridiculous. It merely serves as a contrivance to keep the Hawks apart and wallow in angst.

The major concern to the overall story in JLA involves the fate of Superman. Superman was bitten by a vampire and turned. At the time I simply thought the creative team was not adhering to popular myth. If by the next sunrise you destroy the sire of the victim, the victim reverts back to normal. The opportunity to destroy the sire in JLA has been missed. Superman is a vampire and must be considered the walking dead. I do not know how the League can return Superman back from the dead unless someone goes and breaks the laws of physics with some poorly thought time travel.

The story in Hawkman is flawed. Mr. Siegal misses some easy outs and does not explain why they wouldn't work or were not taken. Alleged continuity annoys and subverts some of the power in these characters. The Byrne artwork illustrates a proportionate design to both Hawks. The characters' visual depth is further enhanced by Larry Stucker's crosshatch touches. The entirety of the artwork and direction generates excitement, which almost overwhelms the typical failings of post-Crisis DC books.

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