Hawkman #7 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Bryan Hitch, Artist; Andrew Currie, Inker; Jeremiah Skipper, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Origin Rewrite Is Good (But it uncouples him from Hawkwoman)
Ray: Robert Venditti seems to have found the DC character he’s meant to write, as his run on Hawkman has far outstripped any of his other comic book work in quality. But Hawkman #7 is going to be far and away the most controversial of the run, as it takes Hawkman back to the beginning and reveals a horrific secret behind his powers of reincarnation – and their ties to the Deathbringers. That story begins on ancient Thanagar, as buzzards pick over countless bodies and the Deathbringers look overhead. And presiding over it all is Ktar, the ruthless general of the Deathbringers, assigned to bring them their daily sacrifices. Along with his loyal partner Idamm, he carries out his grim duty – but while Idamm relishes in the carnage they cause, Ktar is quickly becoming horrified by it. That doubt only increases when he begins to hallucinate a young woman at the sites of his carnage, trying to get his attention and turn him away from evil.
This is a fascinatingly dark issue, probably the darkest Hawkman story ever told. It’s also extremely risky, in that it tacks a horrific crime onto Katar Hol’s backstory. It’s not truly him anymore, of course, but even his redemption arc and sacrifice against Idamm and the Deathbringers at the end doesn’t come close to atoning for his actions. The reveal that his reincarnations are his atonement, saving a life for everyone he took until the scales are balanced, is a great twice.
But it does raise one question – where’s Shayera in all this? Is she the mysterious woman who turned him away from evil? Venditti’s done an amazing job of deepening Hawkman’s character here, but it feels like the other half of this story is missing. But Venditti’s said he has long plans for the character, and I’m guessing it’ll sync up with Snyder’s plans for Hawkgirl eventually. One thing’s for sure – this is the most interested I’ve been in Hawkman in a very long time.
Corrina: Well. That’s one way to rewrite Hawkman’s origins. Not that I was that attached to any of the previous versions, which mainly consisted of reincarnation through the ages with Carter and Shayera subject to murder and horrible death over and over again.
Carter being reborn over and over in order to make up for the untold thousands of lives that he’d destroyed is grim but, as a motivation for change, and as an explanation for why each life is so hard for him, it works quite well. My only quibble is that these revelations don’t seem to come about as part of his series’ long quest, they mainly drop into his lap instead. And, yes, Venditti seems to have a handle on this character but let’s also praise Hitch, who provides majesty and horror to the Deathbringers’ actions.
The main problem is that while this rewrites Carter’s origin in an interesting way, it leaves out Shayera entirely, as Ray noted. Now, given, star-crossed reincarnated lovers has had its problems as an origin, particularly the times when it’s been written as Carter remembering his lover and insisting that Shayera’s latest incarnation must love him back, despite the fact she doesn’t remember him. But it also essentially removes Shayera from the Hawk mythos, unless she’s the mysterious woman urging him to do the right thing, over and over. In that case, it reduces her to a symbol of all that’s good. She’s quite literally a woman on a pedestal, and not viewed by the story as a person, only a plot device.
Ray is sanguine about future plans for Shayera. But given DC has consistently been interested in Carter and I can’t remember the last time Shayera had a significant role (Geoff Johns’ Hawkman revamp of at least 10 years ago?), I’ve no hopes for the character, especially given the way Venditti also wrote out Soranik, a prominent female Lantern, in his Green Lantern work, and in such a horrible way too.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.