This week we take to the skies with the new Hawkman series from DC, and Stellar from Image Comics! Plus a special update from yours truly!
Hawkman #1 (DC Comics)
Of all of the superheroes in comics, none have quite the convoluted history like Hawkman. He started as an adventurer, then became a space cop, then became a constantly resurrected hero, and now has ties to the events of Metal. Many great writers and artists have tried their hand at making sense of him, and while some have had more success than others, true lasting success has eluded the character. But now, with a brand new start from writer Robert Venditti and artist Bryan Hitch, the tide could (and should) start to turn in Carter Hall’s favor, because Hawkman #1 is an absolute blast.
Newly freed from the dark multiverse of Metal, Carter Hall has jumped right back into his adventuring lifestyle, scouring the globe for mythical artifacts that hold the key to his long and varied life. After doing battle with a giant ape Golem, Hawkman visits Madame Xanadu, hoping she can unlock the mysteries of his various past lives. What Carter Hall finds though is a pretty shocking revelation: his resurrections aren’t just throughout time, but also throughout dimensions, meaning that every experience he’s ever had has actually been him doing them, and not some false dream or distant ancestor. These past lives all have a connection to Carter Hall’s reason for protecting Earth, but what could it mean?
Credit goes to Robert Venditti for crafting an excellent first issue for this character. Hawkman #1 is an extremely new-reader friendly book, which is nothing short of a miracle when you do a quick wikipedia search of the character’s long (and confusing) history. Venditti crafts Carter Hall in the same mold as adventurers like Indiana Jones and Nathan Drake, albeit one that can sprout wings and fly around the artifacts he’s looking for. Not only that, but he’s able to take the many different origins of Hall and make them not only make sense, but turn them into a compelling mystery that drives the issue.
Adding to the fun of this issue is Bryan Hitch’s artwork, which has honestly never looked better. Hitch, well-known for his larger than life bombast from books like The Ultimates and his own JLA series, brings a grand epic scope to the character, with large splash panels to highlight Hawkman’s flight, and some pretty damn impressive monster designs too. It feels good to say that Hitch is finally back.
Simply put, I was blown away by how good Hawkman #1 was. For a character that’s always seemed pretty impenetrable to me, Venditti and Hitch crafted a fantastic, easy to understand first issue that seems to be leading to some pretty huge things in the issues to come. Simply put, it’s a comic that reminds you how awesome the medium is.
Stellar #1 (Image Comics)
The life of an interstellar bounty hunter is a hard one, even when you have superpowers. That’s the main takeaway from Stellar, the new Image series from Joseph Keatinge and Bret Blevins. There’s been a considerable amount of hype for this new series from the publisher, starting with a pretty big marketing campaign a few months ago. But as it often goes with things that are hugely hyped up, the end result of Stellar #1 isn’t quite as cool as it wants you to think it is.
Stellar is a bounty hunter who travels the galaxy collecting criminals for various planets. When one of her bounties is denied due to some recent changes in intergalactic bureaucracy, she brings him back to her home base where he’s put to work as a slave. All the while we’re shown flashbacks of Stellar’s arrival on the planet, and the mysterious beings that followed her, seemingly from her race. It seems like Stellar’s initial plan was to help overthrow this planet, but she eventually decided against it and turned to being a hero.But why?
That’s not an answer we get in this opening issue, and to be honest, it’s pretty annoying. While I commend writer Joseph Keatinge for not falling into the “first issue info dump” trap that many Image writers hit, at the same time, there’s a frustrating amount of this world and characters that aren’t explained, so much so that you’ll find it hard to really care about Stellar’s motivations or the people around her.
Bret Blevin’s art, however, is pretty great. Blevin’s style is both detailed and simple, and it’s well suited for this series. There are some truly fantastic pages here from Blevins, and as good as the action sequences are, the best panels belong to Stellar’s prisoner, who has some pretty hilarious facial expressions. The script may not deliver, but Blevin’s art certainly does.
While some people may want to stick with Stellar, the lack of any concrete plot details didn’t really hook me. It’s a shame, because I was intrigued by the promotional materials I was seeing, but sadly the end result wasn’t quite what I wanted. Oh well, knowing Image they’ll have a few more new #1’s coming shortly.
Hey all, this marks my final set of comic reviews for Laser Time. Unfortunately for yours truly, life has gotten too damn big and important to keep up with these. My thanks to Chris, Henry, Dave, Brett, and the rest of the Laser Time crew for giving me the opportunity to spout nonsense about fictional worlds to you, and to you all for reading these. Remember, With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility, and May The Force Be With You.