Hawkman is one of the more unique heroes in the DCU thanks to his many previous lives. We get a direct look at a previous life in Robert Venditti’s latest issue of the series which shows us a time when Carter Hall was roaming 17th century Europe to ease the suffering of those falling victim to the Black Death. Back when the advance preview came out, it seemed like crazy timing even then given the growing fear of the pandemic in March. Does the issue resonate even more now that we’re over a month into self-quarantining?
This is an accessible read for most since it spends most of its time in a flashback revealing Hall’s life in 17th century Spain. It is bookended with the current storyline but is more about Carter’s attempt to save a life. Venditti grounds Carter’s desire to save lives with Hawkman’s own tumultuous relationship with death. The story takes Carter into a bed-chamber of someone dying, to the streets of Spain as he categorizes the hold of the Black Death on the people, and eventually conflict with the townsfolk proper. As far as historical fiction goes, the tale does well to capture the fear of the plague and the look of the time.
Possibly the strongest element of the issue is how Venditti zeroes in on how people tend to become callous and inhuman during times of strife. That hits home given the protestors storming capital buildings and hoarding cleaning supplies these days. A strong message about how this behavior weakens our very humanity will resonate with many.
The art by Marcio Takara and Fernando Pasarin is moody and dark, which is fitting given the plague storyline. Moments of rage and great emotion are felt thanks to the colors by Jeremy Cox, which make the rage really pop off the page. A key scene involving angry townsfolk with torches is also one of high emotion, further cementing the fact that these people are no longer themselves thanks to the visuals.
I’m not a usual Hawkman reader, but found an important message within this latest issue many will relate to. It’s also a pretty good historical fiction one-shot tale showing that Hawkman has had many lives and many adventures worth exploring.
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