Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #1 by Tony Daniels, Philip Tan, and Sunny Gho

Nearly all of the DC New 52 books usually begin with an origin statement somewhere in the early pages to familiarize the readers with the character(s) in case the read is a first-time experience. I’ve gotten used to them, as well as the intro blocks above characters in group books that cue the readers in. I actually think they’re kind of cool and make the comic feel more like a movie.

The first issue of The Savage Hawkman doesn’t do that. In fact, it starts out with the hero Carter Hall trying to destroy his superhero identity. That got my attention quickly.

Hawkman has to be one of the most retconned heroes in the DC Universe. He’s been a hero reincarnated through the ages, and he’s been an alien from the planet Thanagar (introduced in the 1960s). For a time, the character was even an aspect of a hawk god.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the character in this strip, but Carter Hall definitely isn’t the character I’ve read over the years. This one is much more down to earth and blue collar. He drives a pickup truck. Instead of being an archeologist as he always has in one way or another, he’s now a cryptologist – someone who breaks unknown languages.

I’m fascinated by the mix of archeology and alien technology in this first issue, so I’m betting writer Tony Daniel is trying to reconcile the two main “origin” stories of Hawkman in this series.

There’s a surprising lack of superhero action in this first issue, but Daniels is definitely building his story. The comic reads like the opening act of a thriller movie, sliding all the pieces into place and building up the stakes while backgrounding this version of Carter Hall and all the ancillary characters that will probably be with him throughout the strip.

I think that having the Nth metal become part of Hawkman is kind of cool, but it reminds me a little too much of the new Blue Beetle saddled with alien tech. The new villain, Morphicus, is pretty thin so far, but he jumps out of the shadows and starts being menacing pretty quickly. So far, everything is interesting.

Philip Tan’s artwork took me a little bit to acclimate to. At first glance it looks a little rough and unfinished, but when I leafed back through the book after finishing it, I discovered that it really suits the story. He breaks down the panels nicely and flows the action well. Tan also captures the close-ups as well as the telescoped views in some of the scenes in a way that feels cinematic as well. The perspective in those panels is really awesome when you look at them.

I absolutely love what colorist Sunny Gho has done with the pages. Gho makes the panels leap off the pages in explosions of color, and uses light and shadow really well.

I don’t know where this book is going yet, and I wasn’t blown away, but I’m definitely interested in the trip and the exploration of this incarnation of Hawkman.

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