Hawkman #17 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Pat Oliffe, Penciller; Tom Palmer, Inker; Jeremiah Skipper, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: Like I said the last issue, Hawkman #17 is one of those comics that has to pull some awkward double duty – telling its own story and tying in with Year of the Villain – and this comic has to do it in more ways than one, as it has both an upgraded villain and a corrupted hero.
This story set in the Shadowlands has been as compelling as the first Deathbringer epic, thanks to the presence of one of the most underrated antiheroes at DC in The Shade. But as it’s gone on, it became more about Hawkman’s growing instability. His shadow’s been stolen by Shadow Thief, and in a great battle sequence at the start Hawkman finds himself in a mirror match where any injury he inflicts on his shadow is dealt back on him. As good as this fight scene is, the art by Pat Oliffe doesn’t have quite the distinctive flair that it did during the Hitch run and the pages are sometimes a bit overly busy when many shadows are at work.
Once Hawkman turns the tide of battle, though, the issue takes a turn for the dark and bloody. It’s honestly a bit much for a mainstream superhero comic – Shadow Thief gets impaled on the business end of a mace, and the increasingly corrupted Hawkman proceeds to beat him nearly to death.
The best part of the endgame is Shade’s involvement, as he “betrays” Hawkman to get him away from Shadow Thief before he can do something unforgivable. The relationship between these two complex eternal allies has been the best part of this arc.
But of course, this is all about Hawkman’s transformation, and the end of the issue reveals his corrupted form. I’m curious to see how Hawkman and Supergirl will maintain their own titles when they’re possessed laughing maniacs – it’s rare to see a title with a full-on villain as the lead, even temporarily. But Venditti continues to prove he can write a strong, large-scale Hawkman title.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.