Hawkman, perhaps more than any other character, was severely harmed by the transition from the Golden Age to the Silver. Where Jay Garrick and Alan Scott teamed up with their successors, and Superman and Batman ignored the change, Hawkman suffered from a sense of confusion that persisted for decades. Was Hawkman an archaeologist from Earth, or was he a soldier from Thanagar? And if so, what was Thanagar – a relatively decent world, or a totalitarian hellscape?
This wasn’t helped by the tendency of writers to muddy up the waters unintentionally – Timothy Truman’s Hawkworld retconned away all of the Silver Age Carter Hall, a problem that John Ostrander had to paper over in his comic of the same name.
Ever since, Hawkman comics have been less about Hawkman stories, and more about Hawkman. They try to fix these problems of canon and reboots, and are less about putting Hawkman into new adventures, and more about explaining why this version of Hawkman is from Thanagar or from Earth, and what his relationship to Hawkgirl or Hawkwoman is.
(Frankly, in my own opinion, these have always been unnecessary – readers aren’t dumb, and they get the concept. But that’s neither here nor there.)
Robert Venditti’s run hasn’t been much different in that regard. His grand innovation in the “Hawksnarl” has been the idea that Hawkman’s reincarnations are through both space and time – leading to Hawkmen on Rann, Krypton, the Microverse, along with Earth and Rann. Hawkgirl is no different.
In Hawkman #24, we near the end of the grand story that has been running in the background since the beginning of the run. Hawkman and Hawkwoman – Carter and the Thanagarian Shayera – are lost in the dimension of the Lord Beyond The Void, filled with both the slaves that Hawkman captured in his first life, and the very army that Hawkman once led and once betrayed. The Hawks fight the Deathbringer army, and the Lord Beyond The Void himself is revealed, attacking the two superheroes.
But the crux of the comic is the relationship between Carter and Shayera. The Hawks have always been DC’s star-crossed lovers, and the twist that Venditti has been building – that Shayera is the reincarnating iteration of the woman who tugged on Ktar Deathbringer’s conscience to lead to his defection in the first place – is a good, interesting development on Hawkwoman’s character. However, it’s also somewhat disappointing that rather than using Shayera’s costume from the old Hawkworld series in the ’90s, they used the modern costume with the inexplicable bare midriff.
The art – penciled by Fernando Pasarin, inked by Oclair Albert, Cam Smith, and Wade von Grawbadger, colored by Jeremy Cox, and lettered by Rob Leigh – is workmanlike. The series began with art by Bryan Hitch, and while there is nothing particularly bad about the art in this issue, you can help but compare it to those earlier issues by Hitch.
This issue isn’t bad, by any means. But it’s not fantastic, either. This seems like a series where it’s advisable to wait for the trade.