Poor Hawkman has been ret-conned so many times it’s ridiculous. It got so bad that at one point DC officially shelved the character for a number of years, essentially to let the stink wear off! But here we go again!
(Winged Spoilers Below)
It’s not clear yet, but Hawkman has been an active super hero for a while as of the book’s opening. In fact, it starts out with Carter Hall attempting to torch his Hawkman costume, but the costume has other plans. Carter awakens in his apartment, unsure of how he got there. His hands are burnt and his window is destroyed from the outside in. It would also appear that he has been unconscious for days.
One of his co-workers, Terrance, arrives to rouse him and bring him in for an assignment, to examine the remains found in an alien space craft that crashed into the ocean centuries ago. Carter suddenly notices that the burns on his hands have completely healed, in minutes. Upon reaching the laboratory, things go wrong when a sample taken, comes to life and takes over one of the researchers, Venom-style, before killing another.
Carter attempts to fight the creature, but when he chops its head off with a regular ax, the head grows into a second monster! Suddenly, Carter morphs into Hawkman, his armor and weaponry materializing out of nowhere. This time, by utilizing Hawkman’s Nth Metal ax-mace combo to behead the creatures, they aren’t able to regenerate. The final master creature identifies himself as Morphicus and explains that he can absorb energy… and that he wants Hawkman’s. He appears to get his wish as the story ends.
Like I said, Hawkman has been rebooted so many times, it’s ridiculous. Geoff Johns, in the ‘JSA’ series, seemed to reconcile all those takes into one smooth, cohesive package, which probably should have been left alone, except that it appears that the JSA (Justice Society of America) never existed in this new continuity, so they HAD to do something with him. Like the Golden Age Hawkman, this version appears to be an ordinary human, “Born and bred in the U.S. of A.” The reincarnation aspect hasn’t been brought up, but the alien space craft hints at a richer history under the surface and the ship itself is surely from Thanagar, the home world of the Silver Age Hawkman. As much as I’m not thrilled that the hero is being rebooted yet again, at least this take seems to connect to the previous attempts.
Things still aren’t clear yet. Carter Hall never explains why he was trying to destroy his Hawkman costume and weaponry. He clearly has a troubled back history, as yet unrevealed. What happens during his blackout is also a mystery, as is the source of his costume and weapons toward the book’s end. I’m sure all will be revealed in time and this book was actually good enough that I intend to come back to learn more.
Philip Tan’s painterly style is gorgeous and adds a real richness to the book. His character designs are great! Carter’s co-workers, particularly Professor Ziegler, look like real, unique individuals. And the redesign of Hawkman’s costume actually works. It’s all metallic armor, no more leather straps or feathery helmet. And he cranks up the badass-appeal with spikes everywhere, on his gauntlet, his shoulder pad and knees. It may sound like 90s excess, but I dig it, for some reason. And his new golden mace-ax looks pretty cool, as well. The wings are still feathery though and Tan’s brush really makes that texture come across, especially in contrast to the shiny metal on the rest of the suit.
One thing I’m sure people are wondering is where is Hawkgirl, a.k.a. Shiera Hall, Carter’s wife in both of the old continuities. Not here. Carter is obviously single and no one named Shiera (or Shayera or Kendra for that matter) appears. The only woman in the book at all is Professor Ziegler’s daughter, Emma. Hawkgirl had a legion of her own fans and actually took over the old ‘Hawkman’ comic for a year or so. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait long for her to return!
All in all, a pretty intriguing opening. I’m actually dying to know more about this reinvented Carter Hall! And if nothing else, Tan’s lush artwork is enough to entice me back.
THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN
Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art and Cover by Philip Tan