Review: Hawkman #20
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert & Danny Miki
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Starkings & Comicraft
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
After we learn the origin of the Black Journal, Hawkwoman and the Atom work together to formulate a plan to get Hawkman and hopefully cure him of “the infection” from The Batman Who Laughs!
Two things that Robert Venditti does well are exploring character and always finding a way to top himself issue after issue. These were on display every month in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. Hawkman #20 again shows Venditti at his best as he brings together some of Carter Hall’s friends while also adding in new plot elements that push the story forward in exciting ways.
I’ve said before that Venditti is doing a great riff on the “Times Past” thing like James Robinson did in Starman. It works on two levels. Firstly, as this issue opens we get a piece of Carter Hall’s history as a Rannian in a past life, but it also fits directly into the current narrative as it presents the origin of the Black Journal that Sky Tyrant is trying to access. Secondly, it speaks to the broader scope of Venditti’s approach to Hawkman. It’s not simply one man in a series of villain-of-the-month stories, it acknowledges something larger with a bigger story to tell. Character wise, it is also reminiscent of the Silver Age reintroduction of the character by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert. Katar and Shayera were a married couple, quite a unique approach at the time. It made their stories different in that they had to face things together.
Venditti’s “time and space” reincarnation does the same sort of thing as it also acknowledges the connections Carter has had throughout his lifetimes. Carter is not alone in his own head. It’s this strong approach to character that stand out as both Shayera and the Atom (Ray Palmer) get some page time this issue. They don’t simply show up for a cameo or a team-up, but rather Venditti uses their connections to Hawkman to create meaningful moments. While Shayera is still a bit of a wild card, Venditti is clearly hinting that she feels a deeper connection to Carter. On the other hand, Ray has no qualms about telling Shayera that Carter is his best friend. This is a wonderful callback to the Silver Age when the two really were depicted as close friends.
And just to push it even further, who shows up on the last page at Hawkwoman’s behest…??? Adam Strange!!! I’m sure I”m not the only one that remembers that Silver Age crossover?
If all that great character work and Rannian past life weren’t enough, the story continues with Sky Tyrant arriving on a world with a giant Hawkman guarding a giant Hawkman tomb??? Venditti is pushing things over and above as usual…. With this bit he expands the world and seems to promise unlimited permutations of Hawkman’s reincarnations.
This issue is the first to feature Fernando Pasarin as the new penciller. Pasarin fits in well and may be a more a natural follow up to Bryan Hitch.
The tease of the Black Journal’s secrets remain hidden….
How can DC’s best ongoing have a negative?
For character there’s no one better than Venditti right now. Combined with his uncanny ability to surprise and outdo himself issue after issue, it’s no wonder Hawkman is DC’s best series and no wonder that Hawkman #20 is a gem. While he is creating a new mythology for Hawkman, he also manages to pull in some Silver Age nostalgia with the Atom, Adam Strange and of course, Shayera. You can’t go wrong with this title!