Hawkman: Wings of Fury review

Monday, August 15, 2005

If you're going to go out and buy Hawkman: Wings of Fury, get JSA: Black Reign, too. not because you need one to understand the other, but because the ending of Hawkman: Wings of Fury is so good, you'll want to have Black Reign just so you can keep reading.

The reason I think Hawkman: Wings of Fury works so well, and I can only hope this remains true now that Geoff Johns has left the book, is its versitility. There's strong versitility in the plot; the four adventures (collected over eight issues) in this volume range from a super-hero story about an alien attacker, a glance at fifteenth century Germany, an archeological adventure, and a supernatural mystery. Each tale feels true to the characters, and it never gets stale. Second, there's a great emotional range; Hawkman could be one of the bloodiest, most violent DC comic on the stands right now, but that violence is balanced with almost Smallville-like romantic twists and turns. It's enough to keep anyone hooked the whole time.

I was surprised to find that I was the most engaged in the last story, "The Headhunter," when I initially thought it sounded the least interesting. "The Thanagarian" deals with a visit from Hawkwoman, come to find out what happened to Katar Hol now that Carter Hall has returned. This story reiterates well the origin of the new Hawkman, filling in some gaps, and sets the stage for the upcoming Adam Strange series and the Rann-Thanagar War. I felt that Shayera Thal was perhaps portrayed a bit too "alien," especially when we consider that she's been a Detroit police officer for several years now, but I understand the effort toward contrast. Following this are two enjoyable, seemingly stand-alone Hawkman stories, each of which work well in their own right, but also smoothly foreshadow the Headhunter tale. And once the Headhunter story begins, the book goes racing (you'll excuse the pun) head-first toward its conclusion, with wonderful intrigue and emotion from the title characters, Hawkman and Hawkgirl.

I also appreciated the character cameos in this book. The Atom takes almost a supporting character role, appearing in a number of stories. It's both nice to see his friendship with Hawkman displayed on the page, and important in that it reiterates the bond of the satellite-era JLA as the DC trades draw ever closer to Identity Crisis. Given the Atom's actions there, there's a double meaning when the Atom talks about his marriage here. In addition, there's a cameo in "The Thanagarian" that I won't spoil here, but it was both unexpected and fitting, and fun to watch.

It's twists and turns like these that give me good faith in Geoff Johns for Infinite Crisis. Now I'm going to read JSA: Black Reign heralded in many circles as the best JSA story; I'll let you know how it goes.
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