So this is where I literally came in when it comes to Hawkworld. Not Hawkman, mind you–I remembered him from Super Friends and Crisis–but the whole concept of the post-Crisis Hawks. Back in 1991, I bought these three issues off the stands because they were part of two company-wide crossovers, War of the Gods and Armageddon 2001. The book didn’t make enough of an impression on me to keep going and I didn’t buy another issue until the Eclipso crossover a year later, but while reading my way through the series, I have finally entered familiar territory (albeit briefly).
Both of these crossovers are probably more infamous than famous even though I think that they don’t get enough credit for being pretty solid stories. Armageddon 2001 is the stronger of the two–if you don’t recall the premise, it was a crossover running through most of the DC annuals in 1991 (three big exceptions being Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern) where a time-traveling hero from the future named Waverider went back in the past to deduce the identity of a former superhero-turned tyrant named Monarch. The crossover was bookended by two stand-alone Armageddon 2001 issues and in each of the tie-ins, Waverider came in contact with that book’s hero, touched them and we saw their futures. The event has sentimental value for me because it was the first DC crossover I collected off the rack, and my friend and I spent so much time trying to deduce which of the current day heroes was going to turn out to be Monarch.
Along the way, we had crossover issues that were mostly really fun. Some of them were one-off stories that were almost like a good “What If” adventure–what if Superman became POTUS (Action Comics), for instance. Some were “final chapters” in the lives of the heroes–Batman facing off against Ra’s Al Ghul one last time (Detective Comics–one of my favorite of the crossovers). And others tied more directly into their book’s main continuity, using the crossover as a frame/point of reference (New Titans). The Hawkworld annual falls into this third category, as Hawkman comes out of retirement in 2001 to face off against a robotic villain named Atilla, whom he had supposedly faced before. This robot basically takes on the soul of someone, leaving behind his or her body, and in this story, the woman who becomes Atilla is the daughter of the original Atilla. She uses the power of this robot to basically lay waste to most of Chicago because she hates Hawkman.
There’s enough motivation revealed here, and an epilogue that ties directly into issue #17 of the series, which was out a few months later. There’s also enough of a “Hawkman becoming a tyrant threat” and subsequent rejection of tyranny for Waverider to rule out our heroes. And there were also enough sales of this issue to send to a second printing. But I have to admit that it was one of the crossovers that didn’t register with me back in 1991 and seems like you could actually skip if you were doing a reread. As a one-off annual, though, it’s not bad and we at least get a teaser for a bigger threat in an upcoming storyline.
Now, War of the Gods, which crossed over into issues #15 and 16, is a bit of a notorious mess. It was supposed to be a huge “big finale” story for George Perez’s lengthy run on the title and wound up being a crossover that was ultimately very clunky. The premise of this one was that the gods of other pantheons had returned to earth to fight the Greek gods and anyone else that got in their way. In some cases, the crossovers were very “Red Skies”/”First Strike” type of crossovers–the heroes of the book wound up facing off against a random god that manifested itself in some sort of monster. Those mostly came toward the beginning of the story and is the conceit behind issue #15. While at a Thanagarian museum exhibit, Shayera and a number of the guests are possessed by Thanagarian gods and proceed to wreak havoc until Katar and whomever can help stop their rampage and restore order. Issue #16 is more in line with the actual storyline, as Wonder Woman makes an appearance and we get “Hey, you’re not as bad as the Thanagarians who tried to kill me during Invasion! a few years ago,” which is a nice callback.
Both issues are nice on their own, although not integral to the entirety of War of the Gods, which is one of the biggest problems that crossover has. I own the third George Perez Wonder Woman omnibus, which reprints the four War of the Gods issues as well as the Wonder Woman tie-ins and you really don’t need much more beyond that (there’s a New Titans story that kind of ties into what’s going on with Donna Troy but is basically a Pariah-Terry Long team-up that nobody demanded). In fact, if you read Wonder Woman from issue #50 to the end of War of the Gods, the crossover holds up a lot better than its reputation and proves that maybe it would have worked as simply a large-scale WW story.
But I’m not reviewing those crossovers here; I’m reviewing Hawkworld. I give credit to John Ostrander for being able to take time out of the ongoing storylines to insert crossovers and not have it feel too awkward, especially since #15 and 16 come after the end of a storyline where Shayera was going to return to Earth anyway, so her reunion with Katar seems pretty natural.
I’m about halfway through the series at this point, so we’ll see where this–and Atilla–goes next time.