Review: Hawkman Vol. 4: Hawks Eternal trade paperback (DC Comics)

I wasn’t thrilled with Robert Venditti’s penultimate volume of Hawkman, finding it too artificially angst-ridden in its tie to the lackluster “Infected” arm of “Year of the Villain,” [and without particularly strong art, either]. Given that book, I wasn’t too sad to see Venditti’s Hawkman ending in the run-up to Dark Nights: Death Metal and Future State, though I’d once had high hopes for this series.

For better or worse, however, Hawkman Vol. 4: Hawks Eternal is great, creative and well written by Venditti and with about the best work I’ve ever seen from Fernando Pasarin, an artist I liked a lot to begin with. All of this shows Hawkman on the upswing, just when it’s too late for it to matter. To boot, Venditti tries hard to fix Hawkman’s continuity problems here, coming up with about the best half-measure I’ve seen so far, though more difficulty creeps in by the end. Maybe again Dark Nights: Death Metal (or Infinite Frontier) will fix all of this, but perhaps the best argument for this Hawkman series ending is the inevitability of Venditti writing himself into a corner due to issues well beyond his control.

[Review contains spoilers]

Flipping back through, Hawks Eternal collects 10 issues, being three three-part stories and one “Times Past”-esque one-off, and all of them again are great. Here at the end, Venditti surrounds Hawkman Carter Hall with friends — Hawkwoman, in one form or another; Adam Strange; and Atom Ray Palmer — and it’s a reminder that there is a Hawkman-verse corner of the DC Universe populated by characters both cerebral and swashbuckling, the DCU’s equivalent of Indiana Jones. Two of Venditti and Pararin’s best action sequences, tellingly, are in the claustrophobic scene-wrecking style you might see on TV, one in the brig of a starship and the other in the aisles of a speeding 1940s passenger train. Both are cinematic and neither feel out of place for Hawkman and Hawkwoman, demonstrating the creative team finding their groove with the characters.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

Venditti packs the 10 issues with no small amount of revelations and events, not the least of which is that Hawkman and Hawkwoman finally escape their resurrection cycle, with their current lives now established as their last. It appears Carter’s pseudo-immortality has been both curse and blessing; no sooner is the oft-barbaric Hawkman made truly mortal than he gets notably gun-shy, even against the likes of Per Degaton. Hawkwoman snaps him out of it after a while, but I thought this was clever intuition from Venditti that there might be some connection between Carter's bravado and the so-called curse of his immortality.

Another standout revelation is that the Hawkwoman now known as Shayera Thal started out as an honest-to-God (so to speak) angel. (There is no Zauriel cameo in this volume, unfortunately, but the story writes itself and I’d buy two copies if Venditti did it.) Though a real left turn from what we know of the character, there are great implications both story-wise and for efficiency. Were Hawkman and Hawkwoman not already one of DC’s keystone couples, the fact that she was an angel who gave up her heavenly position because she sensed good in Carter (nee Ktar Deathbringer) is just all that more romantic (take that Aquaman and Mera!).

Giving Shayera some mystical origins also helps smooth over the fact she, Shayera Thal of Tim Truman’s Hawkworld, filtered through the time-unstuck lens of Venditti’s Hawkman, is also the Golden Age Hawkgirl Shiera Hall — that Carter is Carter but Shayera is Shiera, at least through the majority of this volume. Current Hawkgirl Kendra Saunders is now apparently out of the picture, except insofar that Shayera and Kendra are aspects of the same spiritual being existing at the same time.

One might imagine this is where things could potentially go awry. Scott Snyder brought both Hawkman Carter and Hawkgirl Kendra back in Dark Nights: Metal but quickly handed Hawkman off to Venditti, and Snyder never did much to explain who Kendra was — to what extent did the other heroes know her, how did she come to become Hawgirl, what was she doing before the events of Metal, and so on. Any answer to that question would be immediately complicated by the fact that, late in Hawks Eternal, Carter and Shayera are resurrected in their Golden Age personas alongside the Justice Society(!) and then live out their days not wholly unlike their pre-Flashpoint iterations. These altogether seem like occurrences destined to conflict, and perhaps it’s all the better this Hawkman title bows out before they do.

Pasarin is hopping from the first chapter, with a super-detailed double-page spread of a giant forest-covered Hawkman temple on a planet of equally giant beings, revealed in another double-page spread a couple pages later (a creative team really has to earn two double-page spreads in one issue, and Venditti and Pasarin do). That excellence continues throughout, including again a handful of well-choreographed fight scenes. Toward the end of the book, too, the story gets wonderfully bloody, not unprecedented for a Hawkman book. Special mention too of Marcio Takara’s guest spot on the one-off issue drawing the Hawks in 17th century Spain during the Great Plague of Seville with moody, palpable fear and paranoia.



I was a fan of Robert Venditti’s Green Lantern run, though work since then (on Damage and his brief Justice League run) have been hit-or-miss for me. Hawkman, and especially Hawkman Vol. 4: Hawks Eternal, feels like a return to form. I don’t see work by either Venditti or Fernando Pasarin solicited for after Future State, but I’d be more than happy to read more from either of them if there were.

[Includes original and variant covers]


Post a Comment

To post a comment, you may need to temporarily allow "cross-site tracking" in your browser of choice.

Newer Post Home Older Post