Review: HAWKMAN #1

Written by Robert Venditti
Art by Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, Alex Sinclair, Richard Starkings, and Comicraft
Edited by Marie Javins and Andrew Marino
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: June 13, 2018

Reminiscent of the Hawkworld tagline from 1989: “As above, so below,” Hawkman #1 brings the mantra: “Outward exploration. Discovery within.”

Hawkman #1 is here. At last. Yes, it’s only been a few months since the creative of writer Robert Venditti and artist Bryan Hitch were announced, but the series itself is something I’ve been hearing rumors about for almost two years.

Rest assured, fellow Hawkfans, Hawkman #1 is worth the wait. Venditti and Hitch, along with inker Andrew Currie, colorist Alex Sinclair, and the Comicraft lettering crew, have given us a comic that stands proudly alone, yet pays wonderful, loving homage to everything that has gone before.

“What’s Past is Prologue” is the opening chapter of the story titled “Awakening” in Hawkman #1, and Venditti quickly showcases why this title needs to be Hawkman, and not Hawkman and Hawkgirl (or Hawkwoman) or even Hawkworld. This is a series about Carter Hall, and all of his lives are in play.

The reincarnation aspect is a facet of Hawkman that has been at play since his first appearance, albeit to varying levels. On the heels of Metal, it’s quite clear Carter Hall has a long history with the DC Universe, and Hawkman #1 makes all sorts of promises to investigate those ties.

Enough about the setup and the gist.

Hawkman #1 is everything I’ve personally wanted in a Hawkman comic for a long time: mystery, adventure, exploration, fights that only Hawkman can handle, and weapons and tools that make the mind wander. With everything that Venditti, Hitch, Currie, Sinclair, and Comicraft pack into this comic, I had to go back and do an actual page count, to make sure this wasn’t a double-size comic. It has a couple spare pages (clocking in at the classic twenty-two pages) and uses them to maximum efficiency, thanks to Hitch’s wonderful storytelling and masterful layouts.

Venditti gives us Hawkman’s story first person, as chronicled in Carter Hall’s journal. The journal carries forth from Dark Knights: Metal, Dark Days: The Forge and Dark Days: The Casting, giving readers a familiar voice to follow, especially as more than a few fans will find their way to Hawkman via Metal.

In the story itself, Venditti climbs into Hawkman’s head to investigate the “who” of Hawkman, and to explain some of the “why” as well. The previous lives are touched on, and Venditti cleverly threads Hawkman’s story through the family history of a Greek fisherman named Yiannis Stavropoulos and even brings in one of the longer-lived luminaries from DC’s rich history for a fun, smile-inducing moment.

Venditti is locking this Hawkman into the DC Universe proper, but giving Carter some space to figure himself out, while readers join him on that journey.

As hinted above, Hawkman’s adventure in Hawkman #1 takes him to the Aegean Sea, but what he finds there is unexpected. And fun.

The journal overlays from the Comicraft lettering crew pace nicely alongside the story and punctuate the action as Hawkman swoops and soars to avoid the clutches of the giant guardian golem gorilla. Such a glorious celebration of the type of thing that can only happen in the unlimited budget of comics. It’s also the exact right blend of the fantastic and bizarre that marches in step with the comparable adventures of Hawkman to, say, Indiana Jones. Indy would have a giant rock coming his way, so Hawkman needs a giant rock gorilla.

So much fun.

And Bryan Hitch brings that fun to stunning visual sharpness. Acclaimed for his realistic style, Hitch has more than enough fluidity and imagination in his work to make the giant guardian golem gorilla look believable. I’ve ranted about comic artists failing to present plausible primates previously, but that is no concern here – Hitch’s gorilla looks like a gorilla. At one point I found myself wondering how much time Hitch may have spent at a zoo to get the gorilla’s hands just perfectly accurate. Except Hitch doesn’t stop with gorillas.

The artist draws a fishing boat that looks like a fishing boat, not a toy or a haphazardly-assembled-almost boat. Hitch’s people have their own personalities, regardless of name or setting, but enhanced by both. The characters in Hawkman #1 have a variety of settings to romp through, all of which are lavishly detailed, from rubble to kitchen table.

I have nothing but praise for Hitch’s work. He figured out how to make the claw straps work over Hawkman’s boots. He shows us how Hawkman is able to wrangle a mace, when he clearly has little storage space available in his costume, and Hitch even gives us readers the Hawkman equivalent of Flash’s costume ring. Hitch makes Hawkman’s wings more birdlike, but still amazing and massive. The artist adds more of the namesake’s visuals into the helmet as well, making this Hawkman visually striking and certainly unique compared to some of Hawkman’s previous appearances.

It’s not just design and detail, though. Every panel is brilliantly appointed, and the story flows nicely from one to the next and even through each panel.

Sinclair is the perfect colorist for Hitch and this volume of Hawkman. The Winged Warrior has had his share of great and not-so-great coloring adventures, but this story seems a lot brighter (in story tone) than some of those previous adventures. Sinclair builds upon that quite nicely, and fills Hawkman #1 with brilliant hues that feel like a warm, sunny day.

Hawkman #1 is everything a Hawkman fan has been waiting for, sans Hawkgirl/woman. The story gives readers enough of an idea for why the focus, at least for now, needs to be on Hawkman. That focus feels like a celebration of everything that makes Hawkman unique in a universe filled with super-powered people – flight, history, the intertwining of life and death, unique weapons, sublime detective work, and determination as fierce as his mace’s impact. Venditti, Hitch, Currie, Sinclair, and Comicraft give readers a lot to enjoy here.

I consider myself a bit of a Hawkman specialist, so take it from me: this is a Hawkman story worth picking up. It’s been a little bit since I’ve been this excited about a comic. It’s been even longer since I’ve been this excited about a Hawkman comic. This creative team seems to realize that excitement, or at least they banked on it to produce a wonderful, summertime comic that demands to be read, re-read, and shared.

The Verdict: 10/10


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