Everybody knows about Hawk and Dove: Avatars of Order and Chaos, red suit/blue suit, often embodied in a pair of siblings…

But what if…  they’re NOT?  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Hawk & Dove #1 awaits!

Writer: Mike Baron
Penciler: Dean Zachary
Inker: Dick Giordano
Colorist: Roberta Tewes
Letterer: Kevin Cunningham
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.50
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00

Previously in Hawk & Dove: The original Hawk and Dove, Hank and Don Hall, were empowered in the 1960s as avatars of the pro and anti-war movements, colloquially know as “hawks” or “doves.”  They appeared sporadically (including a short run with the Teen Titans) until Don’s death during the Crisis On Infinite Earths.  Shortly afterwards, the power of Dove was transferred to Dawn Granger, who became the new Dove, and their powers were revealed to be not the work of the Judeo-Christian God, as they though, but the embodiments of order and chaos.  Their story ended badly in ‘Armageddon 2001′, during which DC editorial found that their big twist (Captain Atom is The Monarch) was leaked and/or obvious, causing them to call an audible and make Hank “Hawk” Hall The Monarch instead, killing Dawn Granger for good measure.

Jump forward a few years, to a woman named Sasha Martens, an Air Force cadet out to enjoy a little rock n’ roll…

Much to the chagrin of her friend Paul, Sasha is enamored of the grungy stylings of The Doves, engaging in some “we’re not a couple, you guys” small talk as the band yowls on.  Before they can leave for dinner, though, Sasha spots an unusual element in the crowd, the kind of people you don’t want wrecking your rare night out…

Before anyone can respond, the band leaps from the stage and engages their critic (who screams “We’re sick of peace and love!” a rather ham-fisted metaphor reminds us of the Hawk/Dove premise that was once more in the public consciousness in the late 90s) in a careful debate.

With fists…

Fighting side-by-side with the lead singer of The Doves, Sasha is a bit surprised at their natural chemistry, and when the police arrive, she flees with her newfound friend, marveling at how strange it was to suddenly get into a bar fight after years of living a life of discipline.

Escaping to Wiley’s ancient OldsmoBuick, Wiley is a bit surprised to find his reflexes heightened to the point where he effortlessly snatches an insect from the air, while both he and Sasha find themselves instinctively bonding, as if they have known one another for years…

Nicknaming each other for their attitudes (“military brat” versus “post-hippie slacker”), our erstwhile duo sets off to find the doctor who injected them in their youth, coincidentally now working for the Air Force, a project under the command of Sasha’s father, Colonel Martens.  There’s an awful lot of  compression in these first few pages, part of which has to come down to the laws of comics of the 1990s: Get it all out there so that people will get hooked, and damn the torpedoes or subtlety.  Baron’s script at least makes it an interesting ride, as Sasha and Wiley discover that their partnership somehow imbues them with enhanced strength and agility, as well as a simmering sexual tension that may or may not be mutual…

Breaking into what I can only assume are classified military documents, Sasha finds that both she and Wiley are listed in the files as experiments of one “Doctor Avian,” which is…  a little bit on the nose for me?  Before they can find more, our Hawk and Dove discover that they’re not the only ones breaking into the facility, as a giant man/bird hybrid is likewise trying to access information from the files…

In order to keep someone else from stealing the information that she herself just stole, Hawk leaps into action with a fire extinguisher, only to have the creature scream a strange sonic attack.  Dove engages quickly, with both our heroes able to just barely defend against the powerful bird-thing until the sentries arrive.  In the chaos, Wiley and Sasha escape (though she is noticed by a guard) and retreat to Wiley’s apartment, where they both realize they feel terrible.  The creature’s scream made Hawk feel like “all [her]joints popped”, while Dove feels feverish…

A night of bad dreams ensues for both our heroes, where they remember things that may or may not be true memories, and awaken the next morning…  somewhat different.

There are a lot of 1990s “radical” elements to the art in this book, but I have to say this page is lovely, and Dean Zachary’s pencils are really strong in both his figure work and facial expressions.  Sasha awakens Wiley to find that he, too, has grown a set of lovely wings (his are snow-white, like a Dove, because theming.)  Sasha worries that this is just the first stage of turning into more giant bird-things, and is determined to control whatever is happening to her…

Again, it’s a fast-paced issue, but somehow it manages to work, even if it feels like we should get more breathing room in these transitional sequences.  (Given the book’s inability to hook audiences, even at this speed, you have to imagine that a more decompressed story might not have worked either.  Then again, it might have made Sasha and Wiley household named with Baron’s usual strong character development and dialogue.  Who knows?)  Taking the feathers of the bird-man to a scientist friend, Sasha returns a bit later with important information…

While Hawk and Dove plan an excursion to the Rockies, Sasha’s father is confronted by his superiors with video evidence of his daughter breaking into the secret facility.  Of course, there’s also footage of an avian creature, who has likewise gone to ground…

…his name is ‘Peck.’  Like with a beak.


Things quickly get complicated for our new Hawk & Dove, and they end up allied with The Vigilante, Vixen and agents of Checkmate against government agents (including the Suicide Squad) to protect something something secrets, finally admitting that their attraction is mutual.  Their five-issue miniseries ends with a big damn kiss, and the promise of more adventures that would never come.  Save for a couple of cameo appearances (Sasha appears in an issue of Wonder Woman wherein the villain Circe turns all male superhumans into monsters and Wonder Woman is forced to martial all the female heroes; both cameoed in JLA/Titans along with nearly every hero in the DCU, both appearances drawn by Phil Jiminez, interestingly) but the second Hawk and third Dove are pretty much forgotten 20 years later.  Hawk & Dove #1 isn’t a bad comic, by most metrics; it does however suffer from breakneck pacing and narrative shortcuts that don’t help it’s charismatic lead characters, earning a missed-opportunity-laden 3 out of 5 stars overall.  It was only 3 or 4 years before the resurrection of Dawn Granger in ‘JSA’, which would shut down much hope of a Sasha/Wiley resurgence…



Interesting lead characters, an adventure that has potential, but ridiculously fast pacing short-changes them both.

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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

1 Comment

  1. The 1990s sure had some weird emotional waves, the most obvious being the sudden love for hiperviolence. Was it spurred somehow by the Gulf War and its consequences? Did it raise again around 1997 due to the conflict in Afeghanistan?

    As for the story, I beg to disagree. This review sure makes it look like the characters badly needed room for breathing and characterization. Mike Baron was fairly good at that ten years earlier in Flash, perhaps because he was not quite so hurried.

    It is important for any interaction of Hawk and Dove to work on the personalities of the couple. This issue seems to have given up before even starting. They come across as hyperactive, nervous wrecks that can’t be bothered to behave like people and, say, show a bit of concern for Wiley’s band or Paul.

    It is almost like they both forgot that they have social lives simply because they met. I kind of wonder if that was deliberate and meant to underscore how fast friends they are. But the rhythim is so fast and half-cooked that I can’t help but doubt it.

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