The Savage Hawkman Vol. 1: Darkness Rising (The New 52) Paperback – Oct 30 2012
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About the Author
Tony S. Daniel decided to be a comics artist in the eighth grade, and he hasn't looked back since. After making his professional debut in 1993 on Comico's The Elementals, he has contributed to Marvel's X-Force and Image's Spawn: Bloodfeud as well as writing and illustrating his own titles Silke, The Tenth and F5, which led him into work in Hollywood. After being lured back into comics to work with writer Geoff Johns on TEEN TITANS, Daniel went on to draw THE FLASH before landing his dream job writing and penciling BATMAN and then later, DETECTIVE COMICS. The Batcave is, he reports, surprisingly cozy.
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THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN VOL.1: DARKNESS RISING collects issues #1-8 and see's Carter Hall as a hieroglyphics specialist who wants to abandon his old superhero persona of Hawkman, by destroying his old pieces of wings and armor. But the Nth metal, the ancient and mysterious material the armor is made out of, comes back and bonds to Carter into a new look with new abilities. As Carter is trying to reexamine his new inner powers, an ancient and powerful monster gets free and it's up to Hawkman to stop this new threat, even if Carter Hall doesn't like it.
Tony Daniel writes a broadening and introspective Carter Hall, more in question of his current life, the newly bonded Nth metal, and the vague hints to the past that Hall might be an alien. I like this take because of the streamlined back story for new readers, as well as the book hinting and teasing readers of his real origins. It also lets readers understand Carter being more like everyone else, in that he just wants to understand himself and live normally. And because a good half the time we see Carter Hall, it doesn't make it so Hawkman isn't on page all the time so when Hall becomes the winged hero, the action and interest spark up. This way, Hawkman isn't so much of a savage superhero going around stopping monstrous threats like a Hulk with wings, but a decent balance of Carter Hall and Hawkman.
Artist Phillip Tan does some great art work. He draws a semi-photo realistic art style to match the dark and serious tones, some great action scenes, and character interaction to show human emotions. Overall, his art does get subtly lighter and looser as the book goes on, but for the better. It gives the book some lighter tones. And fill-in artist Cliff Richards does issue 7 does a fine job.
But Hawkman does have its problems. The overall writing from Daniels is decent, though nothing great. It never hooked me aside from the subtle hints to Hawkmans origins, but Daniels writing seems mediocre. I mentioned how the book is more introspective about Carter Hall, but Hawkman never seems "savage" enough to ever feel like the character really lets loose. It's not so much a bad thing, as I like the new version, but the type of character Hawkman is, it never feels exciting enough. And although Phillip Tans art is great, the dark detail and coloring make for a dark book that makes it seem like the book takes itself a little too seriously. Tans art lightens up later on thankfully, which helps lighten the mood. And even fill-in artist Cliff Richards art, I thought, fit the design and mood better. And the last aspect is that the second story arc of the Gentleman Ghost fairs better then the first arc.
Overall, THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN VOL 1: DARKNESS RISING is a decent and promising book with solid art and good reintroducing of a streamlined Carter Hall for the DC 52. The first half of the book is okay, but gets better by the second half. I liked the book, but never quite enough to impress me. I'll give the score a 3 ½ score, but since Amazon doesn't give half stars, I'll be nice and round out the score to 4 stars.
Well next volume,writing duties and art will be handed over to Rob Liefeld for The Savage Hawkman Vol. 2: Wanted (The New 52) (Savage Hawkman (the New 52)) so I have no idea what to expect with the next book and where Liefeld will take the story line, but we'll see when we get there. Either way, after issue 20, Hawkman will be cancelled, but we'll see him again in Geoff Johns Justice League of America Vol. 1 (The New 52) (Jla (Justice League of America) (Graphic Novels)). If your willing to try out Hawkman, Geoff Johns version is the way to go. But for Hawkman in his own solo adventures, Tony Daniels isn't bad.
In this New 52 reimagining they combined "Katar Hol" with "Carter Hall" and did away with that silly reincarnation angle, firmly casting Mr. H as an alien. Given the character's tangled history - this is probably the best course as it allows DC greater leeway, although they could change this anytime...
Not nice! - The book is underwhelming and has a deliberate, boring pace. Not much "savagery" going on. This particular HAWKMAN is suffering from the now standard-in-comics "Jason Bourne malady" that affects superhero types (see: WOLVERINE) more than they do normal humans. In fact, many of DC New 52 characters are made this way (see: SUPERGIRL, AQUAMAN, etc.)
Phillip Tan's art - normally very dependable - fails to rescue this incoherent mess. Storywise, it's replete with modern pop culture clichés - amnesiac heroes, lost relics, secret aliens, zombie apocalypse... Yes, you read that right - ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! As if we needed one in comics nowadays. Nice try, Mr. Daniels.
On a side note, the villains are uninteresting and completely forgettable.
Three stars...with reservations. And I'm being generous.
NOTE: I'm currently following the second arc by Rob Liefeld and Joe Bennett. It's better than this - faster-paced and action packed. The stories are not much of an improvement (it's Rob Liefeld!) but at least there's old school HAWKMAN vs Armored Bad Guy throwdowns! HAI!!
New 52 changed all that. Savage Hawkman is a dull read. The panels don't flow well and the writing is lackluster and it does not end for him in any satisfactory way. Gone are the cool reincarnation stories. Now we have a guy who gets possessed by the Nth metal that is part of him and won't let him give up his Hawkman persona.
Not a great read, sorry. Hoping they return the character to his roots!
The last good run on poor old HM was John's Endless Flight arc, back when, and even that ran out of steam after a while. Dang it, Carter Hall deserves better writers and artists. It's no wonder this was a pretty quick mercy killing. Don't blame Hawkman, blame his caretakers who no longer seem to care.