Hawkman #16 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Pat Oliffe, Penciller; Tom Palmer, Inker; Jeremiah Skipper, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: All titles right now in the DC lineup have to do a lot of juggling, but few more than the titles that are going to heel-turn their heroes in a few months as the Batman Who Laughs’ corruption takes root. Hawkman has been in the middle of a compelling run involving the Shadowlands, but now it has to switch around its plans and its lead character’s personality in a hurry in Hawkman #16.
Which is a shame, because this title might be in the most entertaining period of its run thanks to the presence of Richard Swift, aka the Shade. The opening flashback segment set in 1948 during Hawkman’s first superhero incarnation introduces us to the root of their friendship, as the gentleman thief helps Hawkman track down Gentleman Ghost before they part ways, a mutual respect earned between them. In the present day, Shade is escorting Hawkman through the Shadowlands in search of Shadow Thief – who has kidnapped their shadows and is building an army to invade Earth.
Pat Oliffe is an underrated artist, and he gets to show off his skills in the Shadowlands this issue as he brings the constantly shifting surroundings to life. Not only are the buildings themselves not to be trusted, but the many shadow-soldiers can transform themselves into larger forms, including a massive dragon that provides the issue’s best visuals.
But lurking in the background is Hawkman’s increasingly violent personality, as even Shade starts to notice he’s not what he used to be and tries to get him to check himself. We know, of course, this isn’t just anger or lingering trauma – it’s the event working its way into the issue much like it will in Supergirl’s title in coming months. The idea of these heroes being hijacked by the villain of another title has the potential to derail some interesting stories, but this first issue handles it well enough. I don’t envy the juggling act the writers will have ahead of them in the coming months, though.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.