Hawkman #23 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Marcio Takara, Artist; Fernando Pasarin, Penciller; Oclair Albert, Inker; Jeromy Cox, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: The exploration of Hawkman’s past lives has made this Venditti’s best and most unique book during his time at DC, and Hawkman #23 adds a fascinating new wrinkle as it starts to explore the deep, timeless connection between him and Shayera. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the difference between Hawkgirl and Hawkwoman, but the addition of the original Hawkwoman has given this series new life.
When we last left off, Carter was still battling the influence of Sky Tyrant, but this issue barely deals with that. Instead, the flashback tale with guest art by Mariko Tamaki focuses on one of Carter’s lesser-seen lives, one that’s all too timely nowadays – as he worked as a plague doctor in Black Death-riddled Spain. Wearing a suit with a distinctly bird-like motif, he visited the homes of those who were felled by it with no fear of the virus, taking the brunt of the grief from the victims but coming no closer to finding a cure.
But Medieval Europe was a superstitious and often cruel place, and word of a mysterious masked man who seemed to be immune to the virus getting around results in only one thing – riots and attempts at witch-burning. Carter doesn’t seem to have any powers in this guise, so this is one of the darkest segments of the series – pitting a desperate man against a mob determined to murder him simply for trying to help. The arrival of another masked figure near the end kicks off the main plot of this series, which is about the reunion between the two timeless lovers – and how it’ll be tested in the coming issues as they face a new threat.
Venditti’s usually known as a bombastic, action-based writer, but this and the recent Superman stories he’s been writing for DC’s digital-first and giants lines show he has a real knack for strong character work. This remains one of DC’s most underrated titles.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.