Review: Hawkman #21
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert & Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Hawkwoman, Adam Strange and the Atom arrive just in time to capture Sky Tyrant before he retrieves the key. And boy, it’s a fun team up!
Robert Venditti is always looking to utilize character to drive his stories. Not surprisingly, Hawkman #21 is a great example of subtle ways in which Venditti is able to emphasize character and make it the focal point of an issue that also has an exciting and suspenseful climax.
Hawkwoman, Adam Strange and the Atom all coming together to help Carter is a straight up fun moment. It feels Silver Age in the best way- channeling nostalgia in the process. In utilizing these three, Venditti is telling the reader a lot about Carter and the kinds of relationships he’s cultivated. These three are determined to save their friend. While we don’t know the extent of what Shayera is feeling towards Carter, her facial expressions and intensity indicate that she’s struggling with it herself. What she does know is that Carter must be saved.
The Atom and Adam Strange get their moments as well. Ray is the scientific genius that has the plan and Adam Strange feels like he just stepped out of Mystery In Space by Fox, Infantino and Anderson! Adam is able to mention how he and Carter first met and it ties in their common profession as archaeologists. Venditti uses this commonality to prompt Shayera to ask Adam a question that indicates the close relationship that Carter and Adam share as fellow archaeologists. It’s a nice weaving of character traits that point towards something deeper.
Shayera, Ray and Adam swooping in just in time to save the day proves to be a pretty harrowing sequence. It’s paced just right and wonderfully drawn by Fernando Pasarin. He is able to bring a timeless quality to the art. It’s surprising, but enjoyable to see Adam Strange in his original short sleeve uniform from his first appearance in Showcase #17. This contributes mightily to the timeless quality.
Let’s not forget the moments of humor that are in this issue as well. Ray has a funny quip about being a Ph.D. and not a “doctor,” and Adam appropriately channels the more famous archaeologist Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade when he confirms for Shayera that he’s found the key, “Pretty sure.” Haha!
The only possible negatives are the quick pace of the issue coupled with a minimal amount of progress in the plot. This doesn’t bother me, because the character bits are so well placed and the team up is so much fun. One might also balk at the Silver Age nostalgia with these characters, but I feel that Venditti uses this to get at the heart of the characters. Not negatives for me, but I can see how others might view these elements.
From my perspective, this is yet another fantastic issue! When I was first discovering DC back issues from the ’60’s three of my favorite characters were Adam Strange, the Atom and Hawkman. This issue for that alone gets my highest praise! Along the way there are numerous elements that make this a great comic. By putting character at the forefront, Hawkman #21 is an exciting and fun read that demonstrates a palpable bond between Hawkman, the Atom, Adam Strange and Hawkwoman.