Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Hawkman #35 - A Review

Written by: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Penciled by: Joe Bennett
Inked by: Ruy Jose
Colored by: John Kalisz
Lettered by: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Publisher: DC Comics

I keep thinking about dropping this title. Really I do. I’ve never liked Hawkman as a character and only the fact that Green Arrow had a guest-shot with The Spider (last seen in Starman) in the first six-issues after the opening coupled with Geoff Johns writing got me to give the book a shot. I kept going with it through the entirety of John’s run and stuck with it after Palmiotti and Gray took over because… well, let it not be said I won’t give a man a fair shot.

I was mixed on the first few issues. I wasn’t crazy about the new villain in the form of a vigilante-hating police inspector fresh from Gotham. I thought showing Carter trying to move on from his “destined” love Shayera by dating the singer Domina was a good step in trying to do something different with the title, up until she got killed. And the issue with Atom and Hawkman fighting Space Nazis in Antarctica? Too goofy NOT to enjoy.

In the end, that’s why I was pondering dropping the book. Sure it was enjoyable, but it wasn’t great. Every issue Johns wrote made me go “wow” about something, be it the story itself or a creative use of an old-school Hawkman villain who has gone ignored for… well, longer than Hawkman himself was ignored. And with my budget tightening I can only afford the titles that make me go “wow” every month. So out of the $30 dollars worth of books I bought this week, Hawkman was the last one I read.

It is safe, for the moment. If for no other reason than in this issue, the writers bring back not one, but THREE classic Hawkman bad guys. Lionmane, the half-man half-lion monster. Fadeaway Man; master of a cloak that allows for all sorts of neat tricks not the least of which is teleportation. And perhaps most unsettling, Trygg The Sorcerer; master of zombies. From what we see, Fadeaway Man is bringing together a reunion of the “We Hate Hawkman” club. Lionmane and Trygg are but two of the three he says he has brought into town. Coupled with his engineered break-out of several hundred criminals from the St. Roch Penitentiary, Fadeway Man is planning SOME scheme which will “make The Joker look like The Riddler” in comparison to him.

This comic is all build-up with not much going on besides us seeing villains talking and the heroes reacting to what the villains are doing. But that’s just fine as we get to see Hawkman dealing with the jail breakout, a sudden influx of dark magic sealing off the city from the outside world (shades of Starman there) and the dead rising from the grave and taking to the streets.

This book features, at a rather odd time considering we are in the middle of an arc, the premiere of the new art team of Joe Bennett & Ruy Jose. While I still miss Rags Morales on this title, they prove to be the best team to tackle the book since his departure. Bennett’s penciling style is reminiscent of Tony Harris. Jose’s inks are suitably dark and foreboding. Together, they make the streets of St. Roch look as spooky as the French Quarter of New Orleans and all of the characters look suitably dark and mysterious.

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