Friday, 30 September 2011

The Savage Hawkman #1 review

Carter Hall has had enough of being Hawkman. He drives to a remote spot, blasts and burns his costume and buries it. But the alien Nth Metal contained within the outfit isn't done with him. Manifesting as a phoenix, it burns Carter. Next thing he knows he's waking in his apartment, naked. A visit from a colleague prevents him pondering the situation - he's wanted by his treasure hunter boss to translate inscriptions on his latest find, the wing of an apparently alien vessel.

That's not all Professor Hank Ziegler has found - there's some kind of mummy, from which a fluid sample has been extracted. Said sample transforms one of the scientists into a creature, and Carter goes in swinging, but each time he hits the monster, a new one sprouts from the body part. Still he fights, not caring that he no longer has the power of Hawkman.

Or so he thinks. His skin throbs and a new Hawkman costume pushes through, wings and all. Carter has enhanced strength once more, allowing him to give the chief alien - who introduces itself as Morphicius - a real fight. But as the issue ends, the monster gains the upper hand ...

Well, this DC New 52 title is better than expected. The blurbs had me thinking we'd see an all-new Carter Hall, but aside from the odd background tweak - rather than being a museum curator, he's an archaeological translator - it could be the same guy we've been reading about for years. Certainly, the beginning of this story makes sense in terms of the most recent DC continuity - Hawkman has had enough and the loss of his true love Shayera is the last straw.

Or not. Whatever the circumstances, Carter Hall has been the superhero Hawkman, and wants to retire the role. Shooting the costume? Distinctly odd, but perhaps it's an anthropological thing; he sees it as a necessary precursor to a symbolic burial.

The new Hawkman costume looks far better inside the comic than it does on the cover. I blame the claws, they're so prominent as to look silly. As it is, the first appearance of the suit looks great. Except for one thing.
Which Brainiac decided that the obligatory insertion of the New 52 Mystery Hooded Woman should come on an important splash? I'm fine with her as a titchy figure in the background, as with every other comic this month, but giving her this much prominence begs the question: what role does she have in Hawkman's story? To which the answer is, none, confusing readers who don't keep up with the comics internet.

Writer Tony S Daniel has given his first villain the worst name this side of 'Atrocitus', but Morphicius has presence and power and fits nicely into the world set up here. Carter sounds more of a tough guy than in the past, but that's 'savage' for you. The main thing is, he's still the hero, wanting to help people whatever the cost to himself. New supporting character Prof Ziegler is a walking plot generator, while his daughter, Emma, is pretty and smart, so looks set for the role of girlfriend and future Hawkgirl. I do hope Daniel swerves and either leaves her as a friend, or has Carter fall for his other colleague, Terrance (DC could call this book The Dan Savage Hawkman).

Philip Tan's artwork is strong and dramatic, with the standout moment being the early spread featuring the Nth Metal phoenix. And to my eyes there's an echo of the great Joe Kubert, Hawkman's founding artistic father in the Silver Age. Adding to the intense look of the pages are the colours of Sunny Gho, while letterer Travis Lanham does a good job of contrasting Carter's narration with dialogue in the word balloons.

DC pushed this debut as 'Conan with wings' but really, it looks set to be simply 'Hawkman'. After all, previous versions of the character have never been averse to bashing soft-shell criminals with a mace. On the basis of this first issue, whose only real lack is the fact that there's no chance to show our hero flying, I'll be back for more.

8 comments:

  1. I'm glad DC's giving Hawkman another shot/go-round, but I'm not liking the new costume at all! It's like combining Wolverine and Hawkman's costumes in a blender, then throw in a hint of crack and steroids, and out comes this monstrosity!

    At least the story/story-arc starts off strong, especially with Carter attempting to kill his past by destroying his costume. I give credit to Tony Daniels for being inventive enough to think of that.

    Other than that, I agree about the mysterious woman; he appearance should've been more more subtle.

    I look forward to future Hawkman reviews.....

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  2. Seriously Martin, I swear this new Hakwman costume makes him look like Super-Shredder from the TMNT movie!

    Alright I'll stop harping on it.

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  3. Yes, I liked the Hawkman parts, but Venom, er, I mean, "Morphicius", wasn't well done.

    "I consume energy and expend energy!" Um, yeah, that's called "any living organism" not "Morphicius".

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  4. Hawkman is probably one of my favourite characters at DC and I have to say, this was probably the worst Hawkman story i've ever read.

    For me, everything that made Hawkman interesting is gone in this first issue. And Daniels should leave writing to real writers.

    Very very very disappointing.

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  5. Carter Hall naked....yum!
    Hawkmans always been one of my quiet favourites; his utter manliness and refusal to give in has been a useful quality in whats often erroneosly refrerred ot as Batman with wings.
    This opening issue wasnt quite right - something a bit 'off' about it to me, tho I cant think why - but the new set-up feels like a fresh start just aching to make its mark. And Im prepared to let it find its wings.

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  6. Excellent description of the new cossie, Dale! I've never seen the turtles film, I'll have to look it up!

    Great point, Scipio. I can't like Morph now you've made me think of Venom.

    Aww Bruno, at least this wasn't a Hawkman with Airfix kit wings.

    Karl, I agree with the 'off' notion, but it was indeed good - or at least interesting - off. I'm just thrilled to get a break from all the 'eternal-but-doomed love' bit

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  7. Quite enjoyed this one actually. I like the Nth metal shooting out of his body to cover him in his costume - it makes him more of a super hero than a guy who just dons a harness and mask to flap around a bit.

    Will give the next issue a shot and see how it goes...

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  8. hey Martin i'm sorry to go off topic here but something interesting has developed in the last day. i found Dan Abnett on facebook yesterday and made a suggestion to him about how Marvel could bring ROM back with any legal hassles. early this morning he sent me a message saying he'll run it by the legal dept. all the details are in today's posting. i'm trying to get any body out there with any degree of interest in ROM's return to make a little noise on my blog to Marvel's legal department. feel free to delete this comment after you read it, thanks mate.

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