REVIEW: The Savage Hawkman #6
Or – “My Power Infests All Times, All Galaxies, All Dimensions…”
The Savage Hawkman of Thanagar! Carter Hall, aka Katar Hol, has had more origins than many heroes have actual published issues. This latest version has found that the Nth Metal that once made up his wings has now infused his body, allowing him to create armor and weapons to fight evil. But what good is a mace against an intangible ghost?
THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #6
Plotter(s): Tony Daniel and James Bonny
Scripter: James Bonny
Artist: Philip Tan
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously, in Savage Hawkman: The man known as Carter Hall is an expert at deciphering symbology and the like, skills gained both from his years as an archeoligist, and what is apparently an alien heritage. His first recorded adventures brought him into conflict with Morphicius (who, if the etymology holds out, may be a snake version of The Sandman), but the defeat of the monster led him straight into another mystery as the dead begin walking the streets of New York. Things get even more complicated, as a mysterious entity begins stalking Hawkman, in search of the Mortis Orb, an artifact of unknown powers. That entity? Jim Craddock, aka The Gentleman Ghost!
AN OLD RIVALRY REKINDLED!
I have to say, the main reason I picked this book up was to see the Gentleman Ghost, a character whose awesomeness transcends even my general distaste for Tony Daniel’s writing… I’m saddened to say that, at least in this issue, Craddock has given up his iconic white-ensemble-and-invisible-head look for a black, red and gold costume with big shoulder pads and a very 90’s feel. Craddock threatens Hawkman to get what he wants, and the line of the issue comes when Hawkman snaps that ‘men in hell want ice water.’ “Actually, they don’t,” replies the Ghost drolly, and unleashes an army of Slimers (or at least big green ghosties with gaping mouths) to show Hawky the error of his ways. The art is VERY dark and the coloring doesn’t help, as everything in the issue seems to blur into a murky watercolor blotch, so I honestly can’t tell you how Hawkman overcomes the army of ghosts. I can tell you that the dialogue between Carter Hall and a man named Digby is simply awful, the kind of clunky basic page-filler that does nothing to illuminate either man’s character.
A CREEPY OLD HOUSE, A CREEPY OLD LADY…
After throwing Digby off a building for some reason, Hawkman sets off to find the Mortis Orb, which should allow him to
defeat Glacier and Wrath unlock the secrets of the dead. The rest of the issue is pretty much by-the-numbers haunted house mumbo-jumbo, with a mysterious widow who mistakes Hawkman for her lost love, a cemetery filled with mist, and various falderol designed to create an air of mystery and scary stuff, kids. It’s mostly unsuccessful for me, as the various parts were hackneyed when Rod Serling was doing weekly television more than half a century ago, and the Mortis Orb itself, with it’s zombie-raisin’ powers is more than a little bit reminiscent of the Loc Nar. The issue ends with Chekhov’s Gun invoked, and the promised army of the undead walking, ultimate power in the hands of the villain, and the hero abandoning an innocent man in a cemetery full of walking corpses. (Spider-Man would NOT approve.) The dialogue doesn’t get any better, as we end the issue with a reporter on a live shot announcing that “the dead have come to life!” which, sadly, is not the most ridiculous word balloon in the comic.
THE VERDICT: PRETTY, BUT MUDDY AND AWKWARD
First and foremost, Philip Tan is a pretty good artist. As much as I’m not a fan of the newly-armored Hawkman look, he makes the helmet look pretty good and does a fine job throughout the issue with the character’s wings, but the colorist works against him at every turn. In what I believe to be an effort to channel a horror movie vibe, the issue comes across as dark and muddy, undermining the story they want to tell. The issue isn’t very good at explaining its plot points, either, careening from place to place but not effectively telling me why. Overall, I don’t understand the motives of the villain or the hero, and the menace comes across as hackneyed (an effect multiplied by the pedestrian dialogue.) The Savage Hawkman #6 is a pretty dull affair, with story-telling problems that hinder my enjoyment of some interesting art, earning 1.5 out of 5 stars overall. I like Carter Hall, and think this incarnation has potential, but this issue just wasn’t up to snuff…