Hawkworld #1-9, Annual #1

hawkworld_v.2_1So before I start, I probably should qualify this set of reviews of the ongoing Hawkworld series from the early 1990s with two caveats:

  1. As with the Huntress ongoing, I’m going to hold off on my rating of Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash until I’m done with the entire series.
  2. I realize that Hawkman’s continuity is probably in the top three things that got majorly screwed up when the DCU was rebooted post-Crisis (the other two being the Legion and Donna Troy), so what I’m going to do is just look at this series without the continuity screwups in mind, unless they are addressed in the comics themselves.

I fished most of the Hawkworld series out of my LCS’ bins during Shortboxtober a couple of years ago and it literally sat in my collection waiting to be completed and read.  I filled in most of the gaps in the series by diving into other bins at comic shows and just as I was prepping this blog, I bought the one comic I needed off of eBay.  So, I’ve been ready to read this for a while.  But I had to start with the three-issue miniseries that was written and drawn by Tim Truman, as this ongoing leads out of that.  Luckily, I had bought that on a deep discount via Comixology a few Black Fridays ago.

Anyway, the three-issue miniseries gives us the origins of Hawkman and Hawkwoman and also sets up the main villain of this first storyline, Byth, a former corrupt Thanagarian police chief who takes special drugs that allow him to take shape.  As the ongoing series opens, Byth has fled to Earth and Katar is in pursuit, although he’s officially in Chicago as part of a diplomatic mission between Thanagar and Earth that’s meant to establish better relations between the two worlds post-Invasion!

The story plays out a little like some cop/action movies of the time, with a bit of science fiction added in.  Hawkman has to work a lot of the diplomatic angles and takes on the “historian/museum curator” role he had in the past (in a sense–his romantic interest has that job) while Hawkwoman shadows on the Chicago PD kind of like Schwarzenegger in Red Heat. In fact, in a reversal of the typical gender tropes, she’s the loose cannon and she winds up getting a male partner/love interest who gets killed by Byth, a “Boyfriend in a Refrigerator” (if you will).

The prolonged storyline–the better part of a year–where Byth constantly eludes them while throwing other villains at them and where they constantly have to deal with the politics of their situation and a Thanagarian Ambassador who’s not always telling the truth–is paced exceptionally well by John Ostrander and Tim Truman and feels like the solid first season of a television show. Graham Nolan is on art here–as he is for most of the series–and while I definitely like his work on Detective Comics more, I still think he does an outstanding job.  My only quibble with the artwork is with the coloring–maybe it’s the combination of the current coloring/printing processes and the paper they were using (it was a $1.50 comic, so it was between the old-school newsprint and Baxter paper)–but many panels are oversaturated and a bit messy.

The annual attempts to deal with some of the continuity hiccups, as it has the heroes going back in time to stop The Fiddler from killing Jay Garrick and establishes that not only did Katar’s father give the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl their Nth Metal, but that Hawkman was in the original JLA.  It’s got pretty solid art by Gary Kwapisz, who inked a number of the Nolan issues and sits between the art of Nolan and Truman.

So, while I’m holding off on my rating here, I will say that I liked it enough to want to keep reading (instead of continuing to read out of obligation).


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