REVIEW: Savage Hawkman #0

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Or – “The Swan-Song Of J. Robert Liefeld…”

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Hawkman over the years, enjoying his appearances in JSA, the Tim Truman revamp and a few JLA cameos, but truly loathing the endless cycle of retcons and revamping and back-story updates.  A character who is more important for his historical significance than his actual comics appearances (much like Wonder Woman, only vastly more so), Hawkman has been kind of bland for my tastes, and I can’t remember having read the previous issues of this particular run, even though I KNOW I have.  (I reviewed at least one of them, I’m certain.)  Will the new Hawkman’s Zero Month appearance grab me?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits.

SAVAGE HAWKMAN #0
Writer: Rob Liefeld
Scripter: Rob Liefeld & Mark Pouton
Penciler: Joe Bennett
Inker: Art Thibert
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Brian Smith
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Savage Hawkman:  Katar Hol of Thanagar, empowered by the ancient Nth Metal, can transform himself into the winged wonder, Hawkman!  Using ancient Earth weapons and a claw-thing that he saw once in a Chris Claremont comic, Hawkman fights against injustice and ghosts and like-that, and isn’t afraid to resort to violence in the pursuit of his goals.  But what brought the son of Thanagar to Earth?

CHAPTERHOUSE: DOOM

I was VERY surprised by this issue, expecting Rob Liefeld’s usual story-telling nonsense, with tons of macho dialogue and showing-off.  (This is the man who wrote a scene where Cyclops and Wolverine were forced to dress as their girlfriends and perform sexual favors for the members of Youngblood, after all.)  Instead, I’m treated to a sprawling alien world of sci-fi/fantasy, as we meet the ruling family of Thanagar:  The King and Queen, their son Corsar, daughter Shayera, and the adopted runt of the litter, Katar Hol.  Just as they were before the Crisis On Infinite Earths Flashpoint event, the Thanagarians are a war-like people, and end up in a three-way war of attrition against the Czarnians (Lobo’s people) and the Daemonites.  Also important in this iteration:  The Thanagarians all have natural featured wings that allow them to fly.  Or, to be more accurate, they have natural featured wings until one of their enemies creates some sort of virus that causes their wings to wither and fall away.  It’s a pretty cool sort of story-beat, actually, and seeing the proud Thanagarians forced to deal with the loss of that by which they define themselves is pretty impressive.

IS THIS GAME OF THRONES?

I am a little bit troubled by seeing Katar and Shayera (always lovers in previous lives) cast as adoptive brother and sister here, making their quiet discussions about the world feel a little bit provocative (and also squicky.)  When the King falls, and headstrong Corsar takes the throne, things take a harsh turn, and King Corsar puts all his chips on trying to restore his empire’s greatness by mining Nth Metal, a legendary metal with amazing properties.  There are a lot of familiar elements at play here, but I’m happy to say that what feels like it’s lifted from other sources is at least taken from places that AREN’T comic books.  The obsession with Nth Metal reminds me of the Spice from ‘Dune,’ and the royal intrigues and hints of brother/sister relationships may have some relation to the surge of popularity seen by ‘A Game Of Thrones.’  (Having never read it, I’m just going based on what people tell me ‘Thrones’ is like, though.)  In either case, this issue isn’t half bad, giving an origin for Hawkman and for his powers/armor/wings, and really serving to give us an insight into the mind of Katar Hol and setting up the next arc of story by having a face from his past reappear in the final panel.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  BETTER THAN I EXPECTED, WITH SOME INTERESTING IDEAS IN PLAY.

The art is very impressive this month, with Joe Bennett clearly going nuts in his depiction of Thanagar as a combination of medieval and futuristic elements, and Corsar as a winged-and-armored knight in his father’s service makes for a really awesome series of panels.  For all the talk about the relative merits of Rob Liefeld as an artist or writer, this issue is pretty good, and features some really fascinating insights into the mind of Hawkman and the society that formed him.  Savage Hawkman #0 combines a lot of familiar elements into a framework that actually make me wonder if I shouldn’t be reading the adventures of Hawkman every month, earning a quite-impressive 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I’m going to have to check out #13 to see how this all plays out, and to verify whether this sort of quality will continue, but as a single issue reading experience, this one is good.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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