Hawkman #13 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Will Conrad, Artist; Jeremiah Skipper, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Anti-War Tale
Ray: Bryan Hitch is gone as of Hawkman #13, but Robert Venditti has said he has big plans for this title and he hasn’t really missed a step in Will Conrad’s first issue. Carter Hall is now once again commander of the Deathbringers and on a mission to redeem both his own past and that of his followers. As the issue begins, he’s on a spaceship headed for the stars and is busying himself by researching his past lives in the library. That leads to a story of one of his most intriguing lost lives – or rather, one of many. In this world, C’Tarr Holl is born on a world torn by war, a colonist in a fight between empires, and soon as he comes of age he becomes part of the Grounder army fighting back against the Malanites. The first half of the issue is a gritty depiction of life under fire, in a war both futuristic and primitive. C’Tarr forms bonds with his fellow soldiers, takes abuse from his commanding officer, and wonders if there’s a point to the whole thing – and then he gets shot and bleeds out on the battlefield.
And then, the next thing he knows, he’s Kettar, a Malanite soldier. His armor is shinier, the weapons are a little better, but it’s the same senseless war and he has the same sense of ennui about the whole thing. He fights, he tries to get his fellow soldiers to see the light – and then he dies. So goes the cycle. Each time, Carter is reincarnated with the other side and has a short, nasty life on the battlefield. The cycle is only broken when one version of Carter finally decides to defy his fate and reach out to the equally human soldiers on the other side for a truce.
The soldier waiting for him on the other side is someone familiar, someone, we’ve been waiting to see in this run. The ending of this issue has a great, powerful visual about the impact of one person to change two worlds. The visuals might not be quite as striking, but Conrad is a strong artist and this title continues to be one of DC’s sleeper hits.
Corrina: It’s been an interesting ride so far. Hawkman has been my favorite of Venditti’s titles for DC Comics by a wide margin. And, while it may sound odd after the first massive arc, this relatively quiet issue might be my favorite of his run.
It reads like a Sgt. Rock tale, with the soldiers humanized, dependent on each other, trapped in a fight that they didn’t create. Venditti goes one step further, showing that neither side knows exactly why they’re fighting, except they die, over and over. There is an obvious echo to Wonder Woman’s epic stride across No Man’s Land in the Wonder Woman movie but, this time, the soldier enters No Man’s Land with his hands up, and, yes, that’s a version of Shayera on the other side. A peace is born. (Aside: No, I have no idea what Shayera’s role in the Hawk mythos is anymore. Between this and Justice League, I’m not sure DC does either.)
The overarching mythology of Hawkman is probably the appeal of it to most people. Stories like this, that dig into what living so many past lives mean, are what appeal to me.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.