Following their high profile turns in ‘Blackest Night’ and ‘Brightest Day,’ Hawk (Hank Hall) and Dove (Dawn Granger) return in their own title, as the living avatars of War and Peace respectively. For the unfamiliar, Hawk, now garbed in red and gray (versus his old costume, which was red and white) boasts super human strength, limited invulnerability and a healing factor, in addition to enhanced vision and agility. Dove, on the other hand, features enhanced intelligence, agility, flight and a danger sense. “Compassion” is also listed in this issue as one of her powers, which probably isn’t very useful when fighting zombies, but probably makes her a sucker for telethons and those Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials.

From its announcement, ‘Hawk & Dove’ was a “wait and see” series for me. I was a huge fan of Sterling Gates’ recent run on ‘Supergirl,’ but Rob Liefeld’s work in the past has ranged from “stylized” to… well, “ugly”. So now the book is here and what do we have? Shockingly, while I find this to be Liefeld’s most detailed work and his best rendering of anatomy and proportion, storytelling is still a weakness for him. But even more stunningly, the formerly reliable Gates turns in a tired plot and some of the worst dialogue I’ve read in years! All of Hawk’s dialogue is bad, stereotypical, tough-guy speak: “You hear me, Jerkwads?! You try smuggling your zombie-looking monsters into my city and we’ll kick your–” Seriously? “Jerkwads?” Another nugget: “Loser threatens my city with his political crap again, I’m gonna crush a lot more than his plan.”

This issue opens with the introduction of “Science Terrorist” Alexander Quirk, whose agents have hijacked a cargo plane and sent it, loaded with his zombie-like henchmen on a collision course with Washington D.C. Cut to Hawk, beating up generic bad guys while verbally abusing Dove, who is attempting to land the aircraft. “I’d say you were getting worried up there, Dove. What are you even doing? My old partner woulda had this thing on the ground by now!” His old partner, of course, being his deceased brother Don Hall, the original Dove who died in ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’, which is referenced in this issue, so it is still in continuity. Despite the berating she is receiving from her “partner”, the pair do manage to get the plane safely on the ground with only minor damage to a major historical landmark.

The rest of the issue is “character development” or, more accurately, campy melodrama. Hank, in one scene rants, “Why, Dad?! Why did Don have to die like that? And why was SHE the one who had to replace him? Couldn’ta been anybody else?” What’s puzzling is it really seems that Hawk HATES Dove! He berates her and bemoans their partnership… all of which is new. And he laments the loss of Don, when in every one of their adventures together, they fought constantly! Dawn and Hank always had a fairly amicable partnership, practically a brother-sister bond.

Meanwhile, Dove spends a few pages chatting with boyfriend, Deadman. Yes, that’s still cannon as well. Then suddenly for absolutely no clear reason, she jumps off a roof, smashes a car and… just flies away, still chatting with Deadman. Can you imagine, coming out of Starbucks, only to find your car smashed to smithereens by the alleged Avatar of Peace? Does Allstate even cover that!?

Finally, the tale ends with a teaser for the next issue. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this series, but I still managed to be disappointed. Dove comes off flat, despite hinting at a secret that she has never revealed to Hawk. Hawk, obviously, sounds like a generic 80s action-movie antihero. The supporting cast, including Hank’s father, Irwin, don’t do much other than react to the two heroes. The villains don’t appear much, but zombies? That feels so… last year.

Cover by ROB LIEFELD and HI-FI