It's a good thing February was a short month. The pressure in the current Hawkman story by Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch has been building up steam ever since the first issue and at the end of No. 9, you could start to hear that ear-piercing whistle starting to blow. Well, the lid just blew off in issue No. 10.
We've been getting prepared for this moment since that first Xanadu moment in issue No. 1. We watched as Carter Hall went through a giant Wingor, a time slip through ancient Egypt, a T-Rex, an army of Feitherans, a time slip through Thanagar, a reunion with a best friend in the smallest of places, the discovery of a ship, the mother of all origins, another time slip through....wait for it......freakin' Krypton, and back to Xanadu. The Deathbringers are coming. The Deathbringers are coming. What is he gonna do? It's been an incredible crescendo, all the while restructuring the hero we call Hawkman.
"Hawkman is confusing." It's a bit of a cliche, and you can probably find that comment in most articles you read about Hawkman. Heck, it's usually in the first paragraph. Most fans or readers of comics just step around it, ignore it, look the other way, or do their gosh-darnedest to shoehorn it into some sort of rational continuity. Venditti did the opposite. He embraced the "confusion" that is Hawkman and worked it into the fabric of the character. Nothing in the past has been shoved into Earth-pick-a-number-any-number so we can move on. In issue no. 10, the lid of that English tea-kettle just blew off, and in one glorious double-page spread, all the pressure seemed to explode out of the comic pages. My gawd. I get emotional just talking about it.
Ever since Hawkman sank his talons into me, I have read Hawkman as if I am Hawkman. When I read a comic, I see the situations through his eyes. I feel like I am soaring with Hawkman. Venditti has written this series from exactly that perspective. We are not watching a character go through a story. We see what he thinks, how he feels, and what he is going through. "I am Carter Hall." "I am Carter Hall." Time and time again, he reinforces the fact that this is Carter Hall. Someone smaller than the hero. Someone who we can relate to. It was striking that he never wore the helmet in this issue. For me, that made him more likable, more vulnerable, and more human.
The story starts off with Hawkman in a dire situation, but he finally starts to fight back, even though he may die trying. I had no idea that Xanadu was that powerful. She's definitely a character I'll keep an eye open for in other comics. It was interesting that Idamm knew about the "good entity" that gave Hawkman the power of reincarnation. The woman yelling "Thank you, Hawkman!" was a very nice moment that I don't remember happening before. And Thunderin' Thanagarian Snare Beasts! That double-page reveal was worth every penny. I urge everyone to go see it for themselves.
The story isn't even over yet. We have two more issues to see how this first story arc comes to some sort of closure. The situation is still desperate and we may yet get another Hawkman death or several for that matter, but this kettle is not going to simmer down until the last page of issue 12, and we look forward to where Venditti will take us in this defining story.
If there was ever any doubt that Bryan Hitch is one of the top Hawkman artists in history, all doubt has been blown away with this issue. You can't draw an issue like this without a knowledge of the character's history, and a love for what Hawkman stands for. There are no shortcuts or time-saving tricks here. I've heard some complaints about so many double-page spreads, but every frame-worthy, minutely detailed, jaw-dropping spread has been worth it. Those trade paperbacks (Vol. 1 is out June 12th!) are going to be epic. Andrew Currie (ink), Jeremiah Skipper (colors), and Alex Sinclair (cover colors) continue to give us what we've come to expect every month. This month's variant by Cully Hamner was another classic. I especially liked the Latin on the tomb. "ACCIPITER VIR." Very nice touch.
Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors. Tell your comic book store. This is a superhero comic book that should be read by every comic book fan on the planet. This is a Hawkman that we have never seen before. And I would hate for them to miss out.
Hawkman No. 10
"Cataclysm Part Three: London Falling"
Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciller: Bryan Hitch
Inkers: Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie
Colorist: Jeremiah Skipper
Letterer: Comicraft, Richard Starkings
Editors: Marie Javins, Andrew Marino
Cover Artists: Bryan Hitch, Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover: Cully Hamner