Another book that caught my interest as I've been updating the DC Universe Trade Paperback Timeline is Timothy Truman's Hawkworld. Just the sheer mention of this book sends shivers down the spine of anyone who values DC Comics continuity -- as this Comics Alliance cartoon wonderfully demonstrates, Hawkworld catalyzed the sheet implosion of Hawkman's history to such an extent that it's still not fixed twenty years later. So my question -- was it worth it? Resoundingly, yes.[Contains spoilers]
To explain further, Hawkworld represents an ad hoc reboot of DC Comics's Hawkman continuity. Earth-born Carter Hall and his wife Shiera fought as the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl; at the start of the Silver Age, DC reintroduced a more science-fiction based Thangarian Hawkman and Hawkwoman, Katar and Shayera Hol. That Hawkman made appearances through to a few years after Crisis on Infinite Earths, when DC updated that Hawkman's origins Hawkworld. So popular was Hawkworld that DC decided to continue the story in the present continuity, requiring some heavy lifting to explain the Silver Age Hawkman's appearances between Crisis and Hawkworld. This has lead to a general confusion over which Hawkman is which that continues to this day.
If one ignores that confusion and just takes Hawkworld as a story on its own, it's a mighty fine story. Truman's art is beautiful, giving depth to both the dirty Thanagarian slums and also the excesses of the Thangarian towers; he draws dozens of alien races and perfectly expresses beauty, fear, anger, and sorrow on humanoid and alien faces alike.
Hawkworld might serve as a model for current storytellers in that it contains a number of scenes of startling violence, but none of it feels out of place or gratuitous. Even as Truman's main character is one of DC Comics's superheroic icons, Truman is unafraid to let Katar Hol sin in any number of ways -- we watch Katar worn down by the corruption around him until he starts taking drugs, and later commits a bloody murder in a misguided attempt to escape from prison. All the while, the reader understands Katar's nobility and how circumstances have brought him to these actions, and one can't help be moved throughout.
And this is letting alone that halfway through the story, Truman actually kills Shayera Thal, whom the reader expects would become the new Hawkwoman. Personally I thought it was a trick, and that the identity of the ending's mysterious figure was too obvious, but Truman concludes with a number of twists I never saw coming. Even if you had some experience with Katar Hol and Shayera Thal later on in the Hawkworld series, trust me when I saw you don't know everything until you've seen how they came together in the original Hawkworld miniseries.
Granted I imagine DC Comics pretty much wants to sweep this period of Hawman history under the rug, how ever entertaining it is, in favor of what I believe is a clearer Hawkman continuity post-Blackest Night. But among collections I'd like to see -- and maybe this is one for DC's digital comics intiative -- is a collection of the "Escape from Thanagar" storyline, Hawkworld #22-25, which tried to put a cap on Hawkworld's continuity problems by converting the original Silver Age Hawkman to a Thanagarian spy named Fel Andar. This is not, granted, the cleanest continuity patch ever, but it's a story that offers a re-explanation of some earlier stories and also guest-stars Amanda Waller and the Justice League International, so hey -- sounds like a party to me. But I'm not holding my breath ...
[Includes introduction by editor Mike Gold]
Thinking back on it, in what limited issues of Hawkworld that I've read outside the collected original miniseries -- couple of annuals, couple of crossovers -- I find Katar Hol and Shayera Thal much more interesting than Carter and Shiera Hall. The latter, I'm guessing, is what I'm stuck with, but if DC could bring the Thangarian Hawks back without destroying continuity again, I'd be all for it.
New reviews Monday, and on Wednesday at 8 pm, don't miss the Superman: Earth One live Collected Editions event. Did I mention it will be live?