Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Frenzy from the Vaults! Hawkman

I'm still trying to iron out the format and content for this blog, as well as figure out how to write about comics. Very, very few of my friends are fans, so I don't really talk about comics a lot, even though I love them to death. (Of course, my family might have something else to say... I do talk comics a smidgen. Just a smidgen, I swear!)

From time to time, I'll cherry pick an old comic from my collection and give it read. Today I picked Hawkman #20 from 1994.

Hawkman #20, Stalking the Skies!/Clash of Wings
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: William Messner-Loebs
Penciller: Steve Lieber
Inks: Curt Shoultz
Color: Buzz Setzer

The story starts out with a odd, monochromatic scene at the Adler Planetarium. An elementary school teacher points out Hawkman to her class. As she talks a blue rodent-shaped aura swirls in the air around her. Soon, Hawkman notices the aura, and slices into the teacher with his throwing blade, killing her. The school-kids react with shock, as Hawkman raves to himself "you're all avatars" and proceeds to slice up the kids, off-panel, of course. Whew! On the facing page, we see that all of this is Hawkman's dream, as he lays in his bed in his civilian identity, Katar Hol. His mother walks in the room, and calms him down after he comes to his senses. She goes back to bed, and we see a beautiful shot of Hawkman in the air the following day. He stands with wings outstretched in the sky of Chicago, bouncing a chunk of wood off the flat of his blade.

After receiving a fax that his assistant Lefty hands him, Hawkman is joined into the sky by another winged superhero, Black Condor. After performing displays of knife throwing skill, Hawkman and Black Condor fly to the museum mentioned in the fax. Black Condor explains why he came to Hawkman. Seems his powers and flying ability are the result of his grandfather's experiments (creepy!) and he's come to Hawkman to receive training in the ways of heroism. Hawkman says that he doubts what he has to offer, and they arrive at the museum. An archaeological mission has uncovered a mysterious meteor with the ability to disintegrate whatever touches it. Inexplicably it shoots out a ray of energy which possesses a scientist and transforms her into a humanoid lion. She rampages through the lab, dispatching police officers right and left as Hawkman and Black Condor match her blow for blow. When Hawkman and the scientist reach a standoff, Katar counsels her to let go of her rage. She lets the energy flow through her, and the lion disappears.

After reading hundreds of comics, this story no longer seems extraordinary to me. When I first received it, it blew my mind. It came in a bundle given to me by a Marvel Zombie friend. The exciting world of the super-mortals, the mysterious otherworldy objects, and the stunning art all captivated me. The violence was a shock and a surprise, and the resolution of the story was way stranger than I expected. The comic came out of an era that is now unpopular, and most of the continuity from this era is now being dismantled. Honestly, I don't care. No matter who's behind the mask of Green Lantern, Hawkman, or Flash, I can still read the back issues whenever I want. And isn't that what it's all about?


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