Current Reviews


JSA: Classified #22

Posted: Saturday, February 3, 2007
By: Ray Tate

"Fire and Ice"

Writer/Artist: Walt Simonson, I.L.L.(c)
Publisher: DC

The artwork in JSA: Classified meets the level of Walt Simonson's stunning best. Simonson provides the reader with lovely moments of super-hero/super-villain violence, and he gives weight to the emotions at play between Katar and Shayera. I know. I know. That's not who these Hawks are post-Crisis DCU, but I'll get to that in a moment.

Simonson stays true to the spirit of Hawkman. The battles take place in the air, and he delights the reader with aerial acrobatics from Katar and Shayera. I'm getting to it. Be patient.

Simonson's work offers the expected extreme detail, but for some reason none of the trim on the feathers, the hairs on Katar's chest or the crags in Andar Pol's face or the alien landscapes seem at all busy. Rather the detail works with the visual narrative to better foster a larger than life battle between aliens.

Hawkworld obliterated aliens Katar and Shayera Hol from continuity. They were still alive after the Crisis and really did not need to be retconned out of existence. Tony Isabella was writing the alien Hawks after the Crisis, and they even stopped by to reacquaint with the John Byrne Superman in an issue of Action Comics. DC never learns from its mistakes.

After two different incarnations of the alien Hawks were introduced through Hawkworld, Carter and Shiera Hall were given contrived longevity and became the dubious replacements of the Silver Age alien Hawks in all their adventures with the League. That's right. Carter and Shiera Hall the World War II heroes were also in the Justice League, though not the Keith Giffin/Kevin Maguire incarnation.

Despite being recruited into the Giffin/Maguire League by Batman, his own dark self, who recognized them as the originals and referred to them as Carter and Shiera, we were supposed to accept the newly minted retcon, that "the world's greatest detective" was duped by a Thanagarian spy and an earthwoman, who the spy used as a beard. Let's not even go into the whole merging of the Hawks through time and space thing.

Geoff Johns brought back the Hawks through the simplification of reincarnation. This was a messy solution, but it's still better than the whole Thanagarian spy thing. I don't credit Johns for much, but I do credit him for, at first, attempting a reasonable fix for Hawkman and Hawkgirl continuity. The problem is that Johns over-reached and rather than merely use reincarnation as an explanation, he started to base his whole series on it. Bad idea. The last thing Hawkman and Hawkgirl need is more continuity.

This over abundance of continuity continues in JSA: Classified. Reading this story hurt. It wasn't that it was badly written. I simply didn't understand what was going on, and this created a detachment. I could not become involved in the events, and several moments my eyes kind of glazed over.

I have no idea why Blackfire, Starfire's sister, has such a jones to kill Hawkman and Hawkgirl. I have no idea how or why Blackfire killed Hawkwoman--the Hawkwoman from Hawkworld's Thanagar that is. I have no idea what the Testament Pod is, and why it's so important to Blackfire. All it seems to be is a new-fangled tape recorder. Does this therefore fall into the Mystery Science Theater category of re-naming common things to artificially inflate their importance? I have no idea what Hawkgirl is talking about when she's recounting events unnecessarily to Katar. I have no idea why there's a Thanagarian refugee camp on Rann or why the Zeta Beam works so well. Neither do I care.

So here's my advice. Don't read the story. Pretend the Hawks are the Hawks you like and just follow the art. Don't read a single word. Reduce the tale to good guy versus bad girl versus good girl, and you'll sleep a lot easier. Oh, and in case you're wondering. My Hawks are the pre-Crisis Thanagarian Hawks.

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