Review: Hawkman #19
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Pat Oliffe & Tom Palmer
Colors: Jeremiah Skipper
Letters: Starkings & Comicraft
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Shayera (Hawkwoman) has been called in by the Justice League to check up on Carter (Hawkman) Hall, who’s currently being controlled by Sky Tyrant, his Earth-3 doppelganger. When you reincarnate throughout time, space and the multiverse, it’s possible to have concurrent existences. While Shayera mops up the floor with Sky Tyrant, upon his retreat Carter figures out Tyrant’s long game….
Since the beginning of Venditti’s run on Hawkman, the looming question has been: When will he reunite with Hawkwoman? Or is it Hawkgirl? Shiera? Shayera? Or…Kendra? While Hawkman #19 doesn’t answer all of these questions, it takes the first step. One can piece together that Shayera Thal, who was recently seen in issues of the Justice League is aware of the reincarnation of the to. When Hawkman, Katar Hol died back before “Rebirth” Shayera returned to Thanagar. Upon Hawkman’s return in Dark Nights: Metal, he is another version of Carter Hall, more similar to his Golden Age incarnation. While Venditti’s explanation for the “Many Lives of Hawkman” is both creative and satisfying, the existence of two female Hawk characters at the same time begs for a time line. (You didn’t forget that Kendra (Hawkgirl) Saunders is one of the leads in Justice League, did you?
While there’s a physical showdown between Shayera and Sky Tyrant, it’s the characterization that really stands out. And, it’s not simply what the story demonstrates about the two, but rather how well Shayera KNOWS Carter. She’s there to help him and “bring him back” to his senses. She knows him well enough to see through the false face of Sky Tyrant, even if she doesn’t know the specific details. It’s a moving and deep connection that Venditti is developing. It’s a connection that Shayera may even be a bit afraid of. However, it takes these two characters on a unique parallel journey. Additionally, it’s a relationship unique in comics, and Venditti seems to be prepared to explore it more deeply than it’s been done before.
Let’s take a look at Shayera a little more closely. She’s strong, confident, capable and insightful. Venditti references their past together from the Hawkworld series as well. Not only is he presenting Shayera as she is now, this call back informs the reader where she came from. Just as Carter has learned a lot about his original incarnation as a Deathbringer, Shayera has a story that will hopefully be explored in the pages of Hawkman as well. Venditti has already made use of the “Times Past” story in this run and more of these single issue glimpses into Shayera’s history would be effective and welcomed.
Finally, after Tyrant retreats, the story suggests that there is some secret Carter has been saving in his museum. It appears to be something Tyrant can use for his own designs. And, what about Tyrant’s long game? If Carter is trying to get redemption, what’s his opposite number trying to do? Carter’s own worst enemy is himself, in a way unlike anyone else. This also brings up the question, how much has Tyrant affected Carter’s incarnations over the years. Lots of deep stuff here!
As DC’s best ongoing title, it would be difficult to find any real negatives in Hawkman #19. Although, I think a timeline of Carter and Shiera’s lives would be helpful- especially, from the Golden Age forward.
More Hawkwoman! Give me more Hawkwoman! Hawkman #19 is one of those comics that just leaves you wanting more. Not only does the issue whet the appetite for more Shayera and development of her shared history with Carter, but the discovery Tyrant makes at the end of the issue opens up a new avenue. Venditti always finds a way to outdo himself issue after issue.