Due to the period in which I got into comics, I’ve never been able to read any of Hawkman’s ongoing series at the time of release. In all honesty, I haven’t read many of his backissues either. I have always loved his aesthetic, though. A ripped shirtless man with wings and a big honking mace? It’s like Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville created the character with my tastes specifically in mind. In the aftermath of Dark Nights: Metal, DC is bringing the character back to the forefront with his first solo book since the New 52. Is this latest Hawkman #1 good?
Story-wise, this issue sets up the current creative team’s take on Hawkman: an archaeologist who has been reincarnated throughout the ages, and who has lost his memories of said lives. It’s a fairly standard approach to Hawkman, which makes for comfortable if not gripping reading. On the plus side, there’s a reveal regarding the broad scope of Hawkman’s reincarnations that has the potential for cool developments if the creative team really dives into its implications. At this point, however, writer Robert Venditti hasn’t delivered much that really stands out as innovative compared to past Hawkman stories.
Visually, though, this issue is a treat. Bryan Hitch is on line-art, both Hitch and Andrew Currie provide inks, Alex Sinclair does the coloration, and Starkings & Comicraft do the lettering. If you enjoyed artist Bryan Hitch’s work on series like JLA or The Ultimates, then you’re likely to enjoy what he delivers here as well. There’s a crazy amount of detail throughout, which helps the issue’s world feel alive even if the narration is a bit shallow. The wide variety of compositional choices Hitch makes in his panels and layouts also help keep things visually interesting. Sinclair’s vibrant colors add to the fun, and the lettering is strong throughout as well.
Despite the art team’s strong work, this issue’s quality is significantly hampered by the repetitive and stale narration. Venditti’s handling of Carter Hall’s voice is consistent throughout, but the character just ends up saying the same things over and over again. There’s a lot of lip-service paid to ideas like flight, adventure, and discovery, but as a reader I never got to feel the satisfaction I expect to accompany those things. The whole issue feels like a long preamble to an epic poem, as it tells the reader how major events are in store for them, but it doesn’t actually make the characters or their circumstances very interesting. There are very few specific details in this issue; virtually all of it is shrouded in omens or superfluous language.
Overall, Hawkman #1 isn’t a bad read. The art team delivers great work that makes me want to keep reading just to see more of the intricate world they’re rendering. Unfortunately, the story lacks depth and unique flair. It would be one thing if the fairly standard Hawkman tropes were well-executed, but instead we get repetitive and generic narration that says a lot without conveying much of anything. I enjoyed this issue, but not enough to recommend to anyone but Bryan Hitch fans.