THIS WEEK: A surprisingly-long run comes to an end with Hawkman #29, leaving us to wonder if we’ve seen the last of a certain kind of series from DC Comics.
Writer: Robert Venditti
Peniciler: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Oclair Albert
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Rob Leigh
With its 29th issue, Hawkman comes to an end this week, and I have two major thoughts on my mind as it does. First and foremost, I was struck by how romantic this run ultimately ended up being. This book essentially seemed to start as a 12-issue maxi wherein the protagonist was solving the mystery of his own continuity. In the early goings, we saw archaeologist Carter Hall (aka Hawkman) parsing his past lives to arrive at an understanding that he had been reincarnating not only over time but also over space.
Within this context, we got nice recontextualization of old ideas (Hawkman was reincarnating to redeem himself, part of a quest to undo mass murder he’d been responsible for in a previous life), and we saw some new ideas added to the character, with the Kryptonian Hawkman standing out. We saw it all brought to life by the soaring pencils of Bryan Hitch, using the expressive two-page wideshots he made his name on years ago to awesome effect once again, through a character whose entire concept is soaring through the skies.
After that first 12-issue arc concluded, the book dallied a bit in crossover storylines before taking square aim at its concluding thesis, which is — Hawkman is for lovers. Seriously. This is a run that in Hawkman #29 concludes with an aged Hawkman and Hawkwoman still deeply in love so many years later, knowing they’ll always be in love even when this lifetime concludes. It’s a concept that’s always been part of Hawkman in varied degrees, and the creative team here does it justice, leading to a wonderful and satisfying finale.
Also, something I’ve been struck by through the latter half of this run is just how fantastic Fernando Pasarin’s linework has been. I first became aware of Pasarin when he helped bring home Priest’s excellent run on Deathstroke. I was wowed then, and I’m wowed here again. Inked by Oclair Albert and colored by Jeromy Cox, what Pasarin and his collaborators have accomplished here would have felt like a star turn had it been on a higher profile character. Here’s hoping that the work finds fans in editorial, landing this entire team something great.
The other major thought on my mind as I finished reading this final issue was that we may not get a book like Hawkman from DC Comics again any time soon. There’s a lot of excitement over in Burbank these days — from Marie Javins deservedly landing the permanent editor-in-chief position to the linewide slate of new ideas coming early next year from Future State — but as all of that approaches, it does feel a bit like an old era is ending. And Hawkman is definitely a book from that old era, with limited-to-no potential for a film or TV (Future State is aggressively waited the other way, toward TV and movie-friendly properties), as well as a book predicated to a large extent on long-time and complicated continuity.
Sure, new readers could pick up Hawkman. The creative team has done a great job from the jump giving enough context to bring in newbies, but the full excellence of the experience would have been lost without knowing all the different eras of the character that were influencing what was happening each month. The other thing is that this book about a fringe DC character ended up running for a whopping 29 single issues. The new era at DC seems poised to usher in shorter runs, more digital firsts, and more anthologies (all of which is exciting!), but it doesn’t seem likely to bring to shops a comic like Hawkman any time soon.
I’m not bemoaning any of this, though, not really. It’s just fun to lean into the nostalgia as you enjoy this story, and with a final issue as good as Hawkman #29 (a true celebration of the characters), I encourage you all to do the same.
Verdict: Buy It
- If Hawkman is an example of an older era, Dark Nights Death Metal: Infinite Hour Exxxtreme might hint at the new. It’s an oversized issue with stories from multiple creators (not unlike the format for much of the content coming in Future State), and while it does tie in to the larger event, it is essentially a one-off that gives us a whole lot of a side character — Lobo. It’s easy to see a future publishing approach from DC coming where its deep bench of characters regular gets this sort of treatment, as opposed to books of their own.
- I…think I like Punchline now? I was really impressed by the Punchline one-shot that came out this week. The character on its surface looked like a marketing creation, a variation of Harley Quinn, but writer James Tynion IV has really gone all in on exploring this character’s psychology, arguably more than many of the long-standing DC characters we’ve been reading about for years. Illustrated by Mirka Andolfo, this one-shot was a great read.
- All-time great writer Grant Morrison gave an interview this week in which they came out as nonbinary, and it just so happens that their new book, Green Lantern Season Two #9, was largely about gender roles. I’m here for using Hal Jordan as a quintessential example of toxic masculinity, especially when it’s done as artfully as it has been in this book.
- Finally, I continue to dread the end of Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Superman, because I’ve been a big fan of his work with the character throughout. This issue once was another great read, one last outsized cosmic adventure as Bendis time at Superhelm comes to an end.
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