Hawkman #14 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Pat Oliffe, Penciller; Tom Palmer, Inker; Jeremiah Skipper, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Where To Now?
Ray: Now that Carter Hall has unraveled the secrets of his past and has his full memories back, the mystery is far from over as he investigates the details of long-forgotten lives and tries to make amends for his past sins. But for the first time in this run, Robert Venditti is bringing in elements from older Hawkman runs in Hawkman #14 – in the form of the closest thing the character has to an arch-nemesis, Shadow Thief. When the story begins, Carter is in Kenya, investigating one of his older lives with the help of an old friend named Hami. He’s haunted by visions of a massacre he may have committed in this life, and that question leads him to an ancient long-buried shrine that only opens once a year. The visuals of Kenya in this issue are excellent, and Hami’s an intriguing new character that I hope continues to aid Carter in his quest. But Carter’s not the only one in this ancient shrine, and danger awaits.
So far, the Year of the Villain build-up has reminded me of one of my favorite 1990s DC events, “Underworld Unleashed”, where the demon Neron upgraded b-list supervillains in exchange for their souls. Luthor isn’t asking for souls – well, unless you consider a business contract the same thing. But so far, Luthor’s upgrades are just as powerful, and Venditti and artist Pat Oliffe do a great job with reinventing Shadow Thief as a dangerous living shadow out to destroy Hawkman and anything he holds dear – including the remnants of his past life. The battle is tense and claustrophobic, with Oliffe making spooky use of shadows. I did think the issue moved a little fast, and zoomed back and forward in time in a slightly jarring way. That being said, Venditti has done more in these fourteen issues to expand Hawkman’s mythology than any writer since Geoff Johns.
Corrina: What a difference art can make to the mood of a story.
Bryan Hitch’s art gave a majesty to Hawkman’s confrontation with his past sins, providing glorious colors and splash pages that were a feast for the eyes.
Oliffe, Palmer, and Skipper take a different, more realistic approach, giving a more grounded and more human-feel to the story, especially in the opening segments, as Carter wakes up from a nightmare. This is a pensive Hawkman, haunted by shadows, and the art portrays that perfectly. That makes the transition to the underground fight perfect, as their vision of the Shadow Thief, always a mysterious character, is made up made of pure, malevolent darkness.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.