Friday, March 11, 2016

Hawk & Dove (vol.2) #1 (1988)

Hawk & Dove (vol.2) #1 (October, 1988)
"Ghosts and Demons"
Writers - Karl Kesel & Barbara Kesel
Penciller - Rob Liefeld
Inker - Karl Kesel
Letterer - Janice Chang
Colorist - Glenn Whitmore
Asst. Editor - Renee Witterstaetter
Editor - Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $1.00

"It's Rob Lee-Field, maaan!  It's Rob Lee-Field!"

One of my earliest comic collector experiences with the work of Rob Liefeld was rather negative.  Not for any of the reasons you may be thinking.  No, I wasn't influenced by some ridiculous hit-piece "50 Worst Drawings of such-and-such" article, or "hur hur, pouches".  My problem with Rob Liefeld came from a completely different source.  Not Rob himself, but my local comic shop owner.  It's story time...

I grew up a fairly hardcore X-Men fan.  In the early 1990's there were ads from a company called "American Entertainment", sometimes known as "Entertainment This Month".  They would try to sell and hype what were considered the "hot books" at the time.  Think if Wizard Magazine had a comic book store, this is kind of what it'd look like.  These ads continued running throughout the first-half of the 1990's.  The ad to the left is from Uncanny X-Men #287 (April, 1992).

In one of these ads, right under the X-Men listing was a blurb about a "Hot New Team of Mutant Heroes" called Youngblood which was to be drawn AND written by Rob Liefeld.  There is no mention of Image Comics in this blurb, so 11-year old me figured this would likely be a brand new X-Men family title.  Stands to reason right?  It says "mutant" and there's no turtles in the picture...

In the weeks leading up to the release of Youngblood #1 my friends and I came to learn that this book would cost us $2.50.  We were still ignorant to the fact that this was not a Marvel title, much less an X-Title.  We were somewhat used to having up-priced books foisted upon us for one reason or another... crazy foil cover, polybagged, trading cards included... so the fact that this would cost twice what a normal Marvel Comic would (we were paying $1.25 for much of Marvel's output at the time) did not really phase us.

Release day couldn't come soon enough for us.  You gotta remember, Rob Liefeld's art was considered something of a breath of fresh air in its uniqueness back then, especially among young teens.  It was frenetic and wild... fun to look at.  I know that's not a fashionable stance to have... and I promise I'm not trying to get all "contrarian cat" here, but Liefeld's art was (and still sorta is) a big selling point.  I won't go as far as to say he's one of my favorites, but I won't dog on him either.

Mike's Amazing World lists the release date of Youngblood #1 as April 17, 1992.  My buddies and I were there that day... We trudged two towns over to our nearest comic shop, walking the train tracks the entire way.  This was before our town suddenly had a shop in every strip mall... We popped into the shop, only to find that Youngblood #1 was nowhere to be found on the shelves.  Well, hell... I guess it sold out.


Our comic shop owner had one copy of the title, already bagged and boarded... tacked on the wall with a $5.00 price tag on it.  Mind you, this was release day... I protested a fair amount, as well as a cowardly preteen can protest, that is.  I just asked him why it was up-priced... just a week earlier I bought a copy of X-Factor #5 (featuring the first appearance of Apocalypse) for $4.00, how in the world is a brand-new comic worth a dollar more than that?

The owner's answer?
"It's Rob Lee-Field, maaan!  It's Rob Lee-Field!" (mispronunciation kept in for effect)

Everything I said to him was met with that same mispronounced proclamation... Rob Lee-Field... maaan.

Needless to say, I did not buy Youngblood #1 that fine day.  I doubt I even got $5.00 a week in lunch money... I simply couldn't afford it.  Couldn't justify it, either.  A buddy of mine, however, could.  With only $2.50 in his pocket, he asked if I minded walking all the way back to his house so he could hit up his mother for the other half.  All told, we easily walked ten miles that day.

When we returned to the shop, my buddy plunked down his five-dollars in a mishmash of folding money and coins of varying denominations.  The shop owner bent down, reaching into a large box behind the counter that we came to find was positively overflowing with copies of Youngblood #1, and flopped it onto the counter.  My friend asked why he couldn't have the one off the wall, after all... it was bagged and boarded.  The shop owner laughed, and dismissed his request... claiming that copy was only there "for show".

It was on that day I decided I didn't like Rob Lee--er, Liefeld.  Nothing the man himself did, but for the sins of a crooked comic shop owner.  I found a copy of Youngblood #1 for 8-cents later on... only then, did I feel redeemed.

I have since softened and (gasp) matured, and can accept Rob's work for what it is.  High-action comics, that are (many times) fun to look at.

I said all of that, so I can say this... Whenever I see a Rob Liefeld comic, that shop owner's exclaimed mispronunciation of the man's name is constantly going through my head.

So, yeah... Where was I?  Oh, Hawk & Dove #1... let's take a look...


We open with the villain Kestrel interrogating a young man who is bound and gagged.  He believes this young man to be Hawk.  When it becomes clear that he has the wrong man, Kestrel kills his captive.

The scene shifts to the disheveled apartment of the actual Hawk, Hank Hall.  There is a police scanner playing.  It is reporting a shooting and Hank is quickly in route.  Hank transforms into Hawk, and smashes the shooters' car with a large pipe.  Their fight carries on into a nearby steelyard, wherein Hawk is successfully able to subdue the criminals.

The Police and Press arrive on the scene and Hawk gleefully brags about his victory.  When it comes time for the police to take the criminals into custody, we find that they had already escaped their bindings and scrammed.  Hawk is made to look like a fool, and is mocked by all present.  Realizing his Hawk powers were about to wear off, Hank flees the scene, citing pressing "Teen Titans" business, even though it is public knowledge that he had been kicked off the team.  As he leaves, he picks up a ball cap dropped by one of the criminals.

Hank realizes he is late for football practice, and heads to Georgetown College.  Once there, we find that Hank is actually not part of the team... and instead just stands on the sidelines and shouts at those who are.

As he jogs off the field he bumps into a fellow student named Kyle.  Together they run into Kyle's friend Ren, a photographer and part-time waitress.  Hank is invited to dinner that night at the Suds Bar.  He accepts the gracious invite and heads on his way.

Leaving the locker room, Hank runs into Linda.  Linda was Don's (the original Dove, now dead) girlfriend.  They have a heated discussion about Don's passing and how little it appeared to affect Hank.  As they part company, Hank hears a cry for help and transforms into Hawk.

Hawk attempts to stop a mugging, however, he is snuck up on and cracked over the head with a chunk of wood.  As he falls, he thinks he sees Dove on the scene.  While unconscious, Hank recollects his origins as a hero and his partnership with his brother Don.  When he comes to, he finds that the muggers were all taken out.  He figures he must have somehow beaten them up in his sleep.

We rejoin Kestrel who is at an airport.  He is attempting to buy tickets to Washington, DC to further his hunt for Hawk.  He boards his plane, and it is implied that he "cut into" somebody by nearby civilians who are trying to get a hold of a police officer.

That evening, at Suds, Hank meets up with his new friends.  Ren, the photog/waitress appears to have a thing for him (she likes 'em big and dumb).  While there, Linda literally bumps into them nearly spilling a pitcher of beer on the party.  We observe Linda's lightning-quick reflexes when she catches the pitcher before it does any sudsy damage.  Hank shows the table the cap he'd confiscated from the steel yard, while talking up how great a hero Hawk is.  His college pals identify where the cap is from and tell him that he'd really ought to turn it in to the police as evidence.

Hank, now knowing that this hat is from the nearby Paulson Photochemical facility takes his leave.  He claims that he will swing by the police station to drop off the hat, however, he actually has different plans.  Hank heads to the facility and Hawks up.  He enters a warehouse only to find himself surrounded and peering down a dozen gun barrels.  Before anything goes down, the new Dove makes her presence known.  Hawk stares up at her mouth agape, and we are... [to be continued...]


This was a very good issue.  Almost a perfect introductory issue for the series.  Hawk/Hank's character is established as a blowhard, however, not to the point of being abrasive.  Somewhat reminiscent of a younger Guy Gardner, Hawk is a bit of an ass... but you can tell he has a heart, and passion... He thinks what he's doing is right, and justified.  We are also given insight as to Hawk's place in the world.  You get the feeling that people just put up with him, but overall think he's a joke.

The retelling of the origin was very well done, and perfectly placed.  Recounting what has come before while the character is unconscious was a great choice.  The side characters were all introduced well.  Hank's college clique did not overstay their welcome, and served the purpose of moving our man from point A to B.

The mysterious appearance of an all-new Dove was also quite nice.  Hints have been dropped throughout this issue, clearly... however, nothing has yet been outright said as it pertains to her identity.  Her showing up at the end of the issue works very well.  Hank/Hawk's personality states that he would run into action without considering the consequences.  Without the thoughtful Dove at his side, balancing his alpha-aggression, Hawk would not be long for this world... or at least his line of work.

I cannot think of any complaints as it pertains to the art.  The art was very nice.  I suppose it can be argued that this is very early Liefeld, before his style truly evolved into what it would become... and be derided for.  This art was very Liefeld-lite, almost Ian Churchhillian, with Todd McFarlane-esque faces.  If your only exposure to Rob Liefeld art is the aforementioned hit-pieces, or that unfortunate Captain America bust-shot... you really ought to check out this miniseries... and, yes... people in this issue have feet.

I understand Rob's art isn't for everybody.  What I have trouble understanding is how personal people try to make it.  Sometimes it's as though his work is an affront to them as a person... I just don't get it.  I will never have a problem with Liefeld or his work... by all accounts, he's a helluva guy... and, I cannot harbor any ill will toward anybody who loves comic books as much as he does.  He's a huge comic book fan, just like me/us.  That's really all I need to know.

This entire five-issue miniseries is available from DC Digital.  If you're like me, and digital comics make your teeth itch... there is also a physical collected edition available.  Give it a look-see, it may challenge some of your preconceptions... and the story is great fun to boot!


Interesting Ads:

Anyone spot me five bucks?
... Make that fifteen bucks...
Great story here...
Another one in the to-read pile/mountain...

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