Monday, September 12, 2011
Review: Hawk and Dove #1
Hawk and Dove #1 came out this week as well, another book that I have been looking forward to. It really seems like a perfect storm for me - characters I love, the relaunch of a book I wrote letters to in the 90's, drawn once again by Rob Liefeld, and written by Sterling Gates who did such a great job on Supergirl, making her a complex and heroic figure. This one would seem to have it all.
But it also works as a 'first issue'. Any first issue needs to at least set up the broad characterization of the main characters, at least a brief origin (or hint at origin), some action to grab the reader, and a great cliffhanger to get me to come back. Hawk and Dove #1 has all of that.
And that isn't necessarily easy when it comes to these characters. They have been dead, resurrected, zombified, evil, etc. While the 'new 52' is a universal reboot of a sort, some of that history (if not all of it) remains intact. And, if this relaunch brings in brand spanking new readers, those readers deserve some back story to set the table ... but not so much to make a new reader think there is too much history to swallow. Gates does a good job on hitting on the highlights of that stuff without keeping the action rolling.
The book opens with a nice action sequence. Alexander Quirk, a mad scientist/terrorist type, has unleashed his 'monsters of mass destruction', hijacking a plane with the plan to crash it into Washington D.C.
Luckily Hawk and Dove have somehow gotten on board and are taking out the trash. In a nice set-up on their styles, Hawk, the avatar of war, is shown angrily bashing the human terrorists while Dove, the avatar of peace, is trying to land the plane.
Quirk's monsters then add to the chaos. The cargo on the plane turns out to be Quirk's zombies.
In a nice little meta-textual comment, Hawk says no one like zombies anymore. Boy, that's for sure. Seemed like every other comic or movie the last couple of years has had a zombie theme.
The fight takes a bad turn, forcing Dove to smash the plane's windshield, depressurizing the cabin. She then flies out, stabilizing the plane's flight path so Hawk can land it with minimal damage to the Washington Monument.
It is a nice way to open the book, crazy action showcasing the main characters' styles and powers with almost no exposition. It grabbed me in the same way the opening chase sequences in Bond movies just suck you into the experience.
Once on the ground, the two meet Officer Watanabe, a member of the cities special crimes unit. Watanabe comes across a bit cold, making me suspicious that there is more going on with him then let on.
But he mentions Captain Arsala. 'Sal' was a supporting cast member in the 90's Hawk and Dove series, a smart if offbeat cop who was Dove's love interest. So it looks like at least part of that series is in continuity.
The middle portion of the book slows the pace down a bit as Hank talks to his father about his career as Hawk. It is a bullet review of the original Hawk and Dove's origins, catching new readers up while showing just how tormented Hank still is that Don died in the 'worst Crisis'. That rage is a key part of Hank's personality so it lays some foundation for him. Could there be a ripple of survivor's guilt in there too?
One thing that did stick out is this brief recap of that origin. It was Don's anger that seemed to get the 'gods' attention. That is interesting because Don was always on an even keel, at peace even in death in Blackest Night. This is one mystery I look forward to reading more about.
There is even more mystery in this origin.
Dove, flying around with new beau Deadman, reveals that she has had some relationship, some link to Don. Something she has never told Hank. Now, I will have to reread the old mini-series but I am pretty sure that Dawn gained her powers at the moment Don died. Is that what she is talking about? Or something more? So another mystery.
And what's more, despite being her partner, Hank seems to have some grudge, some resentment about Dawn as he says over and over in the origin recap that he can't believe SHE was the one picked to be Dove. Maybe he already knows the link. Yest another mystery.
So Gates does a good job of introducing some plot threads here, a sort of long-term lure for readers.
The one thing I don't know is just how Dove is talking to Deadman here. Can she communicate with him in his ghostly form now? I'm really not keen on the Deadman/Dove romance.
This portion of the book does slow down the momentum of the early action but I think you need to lay this foundation of the characters.
And then ends it with a more short term cliffhanger. Someone that looks suspiciously like Hawk has arrived in Washington D.C. and is looking for our heroes. That's a nice hook.
This isn't the first time we have seen other 'hawks'. Kestrel was the main bad guy in the 90s mini-series and title (this clearly isn't Kestrel). But Kestrel was another agent of chaos (back when Hawk was an agent of chaos and Dove was an agent of order). Now Gates and Liefeld have talked on other sites about how there are other avatars besides War and Peace. So I don't know if the Order/Chaos relationship with these characters is still in continuity.
So I might be biased because I like these characters a lot. But I really thought this book was a great opening volley for this title. It laid down the ground work as described above.
The big thing here is that I feel that the action of this book is going to be over the top wild. I think this book is going to be loud and fun with a lot of mythology built in. If that feeling is right, Liefeld is the perfect artist for the book.
Like Action, this was a big hit of the week for me.
Overall grade: B+