Hawk and Dove #1 review

Zombies on a plane. It sounds like a high-concept movie but it's actually the hi-jinks which kick off this new series. 'Science terrorist' Alexander Quirk has loaded a plane with 'monsters of mass destruction' but Hawk and Dove are bidding to ruin his day. The avatars of war and peace stop the monsters and prevent the jet from crashing into the Washington Monument.

Well, almost. The needle suffers a chip, but there's no loss of life. Not that Hawk's dad, Judge Irwin Hall, is impressed, reckoning Hank should have done better. Hank, for his part, is having a melodramatic moment centred on his late brother Don, the previous Dove, who died during 'the worst crisis the world's ever seen'. Oh, if only Don hadn't died. Why did it have to be Dawn who inherited his mantle? Anyone but Dawn!

Sound as if someone has a crush.

Dawn, mind, isn't available for love, she's sweet on Deadman, her corpus delectable. And she's been revealing a secret to him. We're not told what that is exactly, but it seems that there's something she never told Hank. That her becoming Dove wasn't entirely random, she had a connection to Don - perhaps a romantic one.

(Unless, that is, she just never told Hank that she got the Dove powers at the very moment that his brother died, for fear Hank would assume they went into her at the point at which he could have used them most. What if it was, in fact, the second before he died ...)

While the Flashpoint reset button hasn't affected Hank and Dawn's recent history, with the Brightest Day/Deadman link intact, it does seem to have had one happy consequence - old supporting cast member Captain Sal seems to be back from the dead. He was murdered by the villainous Monarch, who was an insane, time-travelling Hank - if the long sequence of events connected to that lunatic character assassination has been wiped out, count me a happy man.

The writer to thank is Sterling Gates, late of Supergirl, who delivers an enjoyably crash-bang-wallop script - lots of action, a bit of charactisation, some soap and a cliffhanger. He seems to be tailoring it to artist Rob Liefeld's interests - massive fight scenes and big emotions, and as such, Liefeld's work serves the script decently enough (click on image to enlarge).
It is slapdash in parts, though, with costume details a bit iffy - at one point Dove's dove design looks to have grown into a spider. And Judge Hall appears about 15, with the white hair a genetic quirk rather than age-related. It could simply be good genes, which might explain the Judge's vanity - he spends a page admiring himself in the mirror while adjusting a tie, only to appear later in the same scene clad in DJ with bow tie. Hey, when you look good, you flaunt it.
Unlike Hawk and Dove. The current outfits really are hideous, when compared to the versions once drawn by a young artist named Rob Liefeld. Check out the cover from the original, Eighties, mini-series (which also boasted a much better logo than the characterless number that debuts here). The grey tones on Hawk look horrible, for one thing, while Dove needs her old boots and tights back. It wouldn't take much to make them natty once more

My one wish for this book would be to get Liefeld's original artistic partner on board. Karl Kesel is one of the best inkers in superhero comics, and a fine writer too. He co-created the Hank and Dawn partnership with then-wife Barbara Kesel, and it'd be wonderful to have him around to tighten up Liefeld's artwork, and maybe pitch in with ideas. Just a thought.

Actually, may I have a second wish? That Dove stops making odd squawking noises
- don't be so literal, woman! Bad enough she's randomly crashing down on innocent motor cars ...

This issue is entertaining enough to keep me around for awhile. The dumped baggage involving Hawk/Monarch/Extant (don't ask - if you were there, you'd want to forget) is a big plus, as is the likely on-panel return of Captain Sal. A few more of the old Kesel supporting characters wouldn't go amiss either, but I'm happy to see where the very talented Gates plans to take us on his own. 


  1. I've never gotten H&D. I mean, from the very first time the brothers ever appeared. Adventure comic, one brother a no-holds-barred pacifist... Equals endless bickering. And how was I to identify with the idiot Hawk?

    How do these two get along, Mart? How do they approach their adventures? Does Dove ever do anything? Is there any subtlety to Hawk's approach?

  2. I never read the original Steve Ditko series, my first encounter with them was in the fine Brave and Bold by Alan Brennert and Jim Aparo. But the revamp, with Dawn, was a fun read. It looks like it's being collected come February as Hawk & Dove: Ghosts & Demons - recommended!

    It's not all bickering!

  3. The Kessels/Liefield mini-series is one of my favourite ever comics. I LOVED the art on the mini, but I'm no longer the fan I wass. Getting Karl Kessel in as inker would improve ANY artist, great idea!
    I have a lot of faith in Sterling Gates. I thought his Supergirl work was terrific and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does with the cast.

  4. No thanks on clicking to enlarge the Liefeld art.

    I agree about Dove's costume on what I see, it is just too pointy.

  5. They had me at "Captain Arsala sends his regards". I'm such a sucker. But everybody else has gradually been brought back from death by Armageddon 2001. It seemed a bit mean to poor old Sal to leave him out.

    Plus I suspect that Liefeld is itching to have another go at drawing those Hawaiian shirts.

    Like you I would like to see inks with less of a chickenscratch quality - Liefeld, like Tony Daniel, shouldn't be left to ink himself... and maybe some of the panels would look less rushed if he were handing the pages off to a finisher. And switching Hawk to red and grey was a poor choice; it just looks muddy on the page. You can make him look plenty aggressive enough in red and white.

    But I'll be back next month. Hoping for Hawaiian shirts, obviously, but if they want to tease out that reappearance a while longer I'd be equally happy with any appearance by members of the DC Special Crimes Unit.

  6. I agree with Travis, Dove's costume is supposed to have scallops, not hard angles. Sounds like they may have reset the H&D history too much. The whole Dawn taking over for Don encapsulated the first mini so it seems a shame to rehash that.

  7. Have to admit, it was Liefeld's art that instantly made me forget about picking this title up and the panel you showed doesn't make me change my mind.

    So many good artists out there and yet this guy...

    Each to their own, I suppose.

  8. I still miss the original Don Hall; i.e. the origina; Hawk and Dove.
    Liefields art just hints at an older man trying to draw 'cool'...and failing.

  9. I liked Don and Hank.. I always felt they seemed more as a couple though than brothers and I always felt that's why they brought Dawn in.

    I was looking forward to this comic because I like Sterling Gates. I think he's a great writer, but this? I think Liefeld's art crippled it. I just don't know. Last time Liefeld handled Hawk and Dove in Teen Titans, he hampered Gail Simone's work as well. It's honestly one of the only Gail Simone comics I CANNOT read. It's just.. too.. bad and it's not very Gail Simone. I think Gates is suffering from this as well. Something about either Liefeld himself or his art seems to limit the writer. I just idk why.

    Anyhow, it felt like I was missing something for most of the comic. I'm also not impressed with the whole Condor/Swan villains that look just like Hawk and Dove that are coming up idea.. I mean that once again plays to Liefeld's strength (lack of detail/design), but not Sterling Gates. The issue felt like it was missing story to me and this is the first comic since DC first changed to the 20 page issues that I've felt this way.

  10. Hi Mr Oddly, I'm hoping Sterling Gates doesn't make 'tailoring the script to Rob' his permanent mantra, instead allowing his own interests to be at least as important. Explosive fists are all very well, but the DCnU is meant to be going fresh places.

    Ah Travis, you made me laugh.

    Jules, I thought of you the minute Brian's name came up. Happy days!

    Todd, I agree that we could do without this 'Dawn has a secret' business. As you say, we've had the origin at length, plus, part of Dawn's appeal for me was always that she was straight up, not deceitful.

    It's a shame that Liefeld is the deal breaker, Gary, but there's one book this week that has an artist whose work I really don't enjoy, and that'll likely stop me buying #2, so I know what you mean. I must get to that review.

    Karl, I'll have to look out some of those original stories featuring Don.

    Condor and Swan, eh, Jan? So is that not a new Kestrel on the final page? I can see all of these birdie baddies getting old rather quickly.

  11. When I read each of the issue #1s, I put them onto a pile: "yes", "no", and "maybe". This is the first one that went on the "no" pile without any thought. The bad art I could have lived with (I was prepared for it), but Sterling Gates really let me down. It would have benefitted from ditching the previous continuity and starting fresh, instead of bamboozling me with Deadman, and with hidden secrets which can only matter if you've been a dedicated reader.

    A pity, because I loved Hawk and Dove when the Kessels were doing it (before they destroyed the characters).

  12. If this had been someone other than Gates writing, I think I'd have the same No pile, David. As is, his Supergirl work means the book gets a few issues. You're right about the wisdom of going straight back to the old well.


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