Hawkman (vol.4) #1 (May, 2002)
Story – Geoff Johns & James Robinson
Pencils – Rags Morales
Inks – Michael Bair
Colors – John Kalisz
Separations – Heroic Age
Letters – Bill Oakley
Assistant Editor – Morgan Dontanville
Editor – Peter Tomasi
Cover Price: $2.50
If you’ve ever thumbed through this blog, you might’ve noticed the lack of Hawkman material covered here… and there’s a reason for that! I really can’t bring myself to care about the character. Well, I take that back… I’ve only ever cared about the character once, and it was during the era we’re going to be discussing today.
Now, don’t take what I just said as a sign that I don’t like the character… I do. I think he’s great as a hard-ass member of a team, and don’t mind him making guest appearances in other books… I just don’t care enough about his trappings nor his janked history to follow an actual series wherein he is the star. Except… for the era we’re going to discuss today.
This spins out of one of my favorite series’s’s’s’s of all-time, JSA. It was during The Return of Hawkman (which we really ought to get to here at the blog), that I started to dig the character. Stood to reason that I’d dig the ongoing as well, and so… I gave it a shot.
We open in New York City. There is a small passenger plane in the midst of being hijacked… but, they don’t get all that far before Hawkman and the JSA arrive on the scene. Carter doesn’t waste any time before bashing his way into the cockpit.
The pilot loses control of the small rig, but Hawkman is able to right the flight with his might! He tosses the baddies out, and they are snagged by members of the Justice Society. Power Girl calls out to Carter for a job well done… but he doesn’t seem to be in the mood for talking at the moment.
We shift scenes to Ironwood, Michigan where Speed Saunders is repairing his hot air balloon… while it’s in the middle of a flight! Now, Speed Saunders is an oldie… actually made his first appearance way back in Detective Comics #1 (March, 1937), if ya believe it. He is the cousin of Shiera Saunders (the original Hawkgirl), and is the grand-uncle to Kendra Saunders (the current Hawkgirl). Speaking of Kendra, she’s just arrived to chat Speed up about the Stonechat Museum in St. Roch, Louisiana.
Speed recognizes St. Roch… it’s the city where Kendra’s parents were murdered. Kendra starts having doubts as to whether or not Speed has always been on the up and up with her regarding the passing of her folks… and begins questioning a lot of what he’s told her. She decides to look into it herself… and asks that her grand-uncle does not contact Hawkman. She wants to do this herself. Naturally, no sooner is she out of panel, than Speed is on the phone with Carter.
Next, we’re introduced to the city of St. Roch. As far as I know, this is it’s first appearance (though, I could be mistaken). It’s a port town, reminds me of New Orleans… which, I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to. Carter’s narration describes it as being culturally and politically divided… and dirty.
We rejoin Hawkgirl inside the Stonechat Museum. She’s looking for a man named Danny Evans. She tries to get some answers out of someone who appears to be in charge… but doesn’t get far. The fella doesn’t believe she is who she says she is. He’s met Hawkgirl, ya see. Just then… Hawkman struts in, and suddenly everyone’s doubts are lifted.
Carter greets the gentleman. Turns out he’s Oliver Evans, Danny’s father. Hawkman explains the Hawkgirl situation… which only seems to make Kendra’s blood boil. I get it… I think many of us have been in a situation where our credibility is questioned… until someone perceived as being credible vouches for us. It’s humbling… and holy cow, is it frustrating.
Anyhoo, Kendra hands over a telegraph from Danny Evans to her parents, Michael and Trina Saunders… warning them not to pursue an exhibit. Oliver explains that Danny is an archaeologist, and is currently on an expedition in Punjab, India.
Also… that they haven’t heard a peep out of him in over two days. Looks like Danny might be in some trouble.
We shift scenes to the posh estate of a man with a meticulously manicured mustache. He receives a call about the Hawks snooping around the Museum… which he doesn’t seem to be a fan of. Oh, he also really wants The Third Eye of Shiva… which just so happens to be the relic Danny Evans is currently after. Before hanging up, he orders that Bloque be called in to take care of the birds.
Back in St. Roch, Hawkgirl is getting ready to fly off to India in order to track down Danny. Hawkman isn’t so sure it’s a good idea. As he goes to take off after her, he is grabbed by the ankle and slammed into a nearby car. This baddie… is Bloque. His powers seem to be that he can block (bloque?) out the senses of whoever he’s fighting. First he blocks Carter’s ability to hear.
Then… his ability to see!
Just as he’s about to go in for the kill… he is struck on the side by a crazy-looking knife. Then… he’s crushed by a car. Turns out, Hawkgirl hadn’t made it all that far yet.
Together, the Hawks beat the hell out of Bloque. The police arrive and refer to the big guy as the “Most Wanted Hitman in St. Roch”. When I think of “hitmen”, I don’t think about someone dressed quite as loudly as this fella. Well, unless he’s a Canadian pro-wrestler, I guess. Anyhoo, he’s hauled away.
We wrap up with Carter and Kendra deciding to head to India together. Working together suits them… even if it’s not as the fabled lovers we might be used to.
Odd note: We learn that Shiera didn’t like hamburgers. What’s not to love about burgers?!
A pretty good opener… and one that really side-steps much of the mishegas regarding Hawkman’s tortured (and fractured) history. You don’t need to know all that much to pick this issue up and enjoy it. It’s an issue where a conflict is established, a mission statement is (sorta) said, and we get a bit of action so the characters can flex their wings.
The dynamic between the Hawks here is really neat. I love the idea of Kendra bucking tradition/fate/legend/whatever. She doesn’t just fall into this romantic relationship simply because she’s told she has to… or that she’s supposed to, because it’s the way it’s always gone down. A lot of interesting story spurs to travel down here.
Gotta say, that scene where old man Evans ain’t buying Kendra’s story until Carter vouches for her? That one kinda hit me where it hurts. I feel like I’ve been in just that situation a time or two… and it always burned my ass. I’m not a terribly egocentric guy… but, at the same time, the thought of having my credibility questioned (when it’s unnecessary) makes my teeth itch.
I like the addition of St. Roch to DC’s fictional United States of America. I’ve always been a sucker for made up city “analogues”. Not sure why… maybe it helps me to disconnect from the real world a bit easier.
While I enjoyed this quite a bit… it’s really just a set-up issue, which means there isn’t a whole heckuva lot to say about it. I’d say that this (and the JSA arc that proceeded it) might be one of the easier ways to “get into” Hawkman. I know it worked for me… unfortunately though, it turned out to be the only take that really clicked for me.