Hawkman is one of the more interesting heroes of the Golden Age. He's one of the earliest heroes, getting his start in the page of Flash Comics #1 in January 1940. he appeared throughout that title's 104 issue run as well as being the only hero to appear in every issue of All-Star Comics, yet he never managed to get his own title until the Silver Age. This latest Archive edition presents the original adventures of the Hawkman taken from the pages of Flash Comics #1 - 22, written by Gardner Fox with art by Dennis Neville and Sheldon Moldoff.
In the opening tale we meet Carter Hall, research scientist and collector of ancient weapons as he learns that he is the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian Prince Khufu. Using his gravity defying material called Nth metal, Hall constructs wings and a hawk's mask influenced by his Egyptian past life, and becomes the Hawkman. These early stories by Fox are heavily influenced by 20's and 30's adventure stories of Talbot Mundy and Sax Rohmer as Hawkman battles a variety of exotic Asian and Middle Eastern villains such as s sect of Arabian assassins, out to kill the world's leaders and Satana The Tiger Girl who uses her charmed Tigers to attack and kill. Add to that a variety of space giants, undersea races, evil scientists, mummies, and other threats, and it makes for an adventurous ride. One of my favorite stories is a prime example, as Hawkman battles a master hypnotist in a story called "Thought Terror"
Dennis Neville handles the art chores on the first three issues but the series really takes off when Sheldon Moldoff takes over on #4. Moldoff brought a unique, finely detailed style to his work that was uncommon back in the early 40's. Moldoff was influenced by the great Alex Raymond and his work has much of the same power and flair for action that Raymond's work did. In fact Moldoff, who does the introduction to this volume, even mentions he was basically told to make his work LESS Raymond-looking. His art makes this one of the very best of the early Golden Age titles as Moldoff was light years ahead of many of his peers of the era. Moldoff can also be credited with redefining Hawkman's look. In the early Neville issues, Hawkman's Hawk mask was actually more of a hat or headdress that exposed his entire face and made him look rather silly. Moldoff made it into the mask we know today and made much more fierce looking.
The Golden Age Hawkman archives is one of the best of the Archive editions from DC Comics as it shines the spotlight on an underrated character and the legendary creative team of Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff. Unlike dealing with a lot of two-bit criminals of the day like many characters, Hawkman's stories were one's of high adventure, and reminiscent of the great pulp magazines of the day as he traveled to exotic lands and battled strange villains. My highest recommendation!
Reviewed by Tim Janson