Hawk and Dove #4 came out last week and continued to keep me engaged as a reader by balancing the mystery of the avatars while doling out great action scenes. It is as interesting a dualism as the main character's traits.
And while I like a good punch-em-up as much as anybody (maybe carve-em-up is more apt here), it is the background myth of the avatars that is the big draw for me here. And we aren't getting clues via exposition, by the characters finding an old tome or running into a wizened elder who can rattle off the whole spiel. Instead writer Sterling Gates is slowly unveiling information in an organic way, through action and through comments people are making. It makes for a much more satisfying read because it isn't just easy revealing. And the fact that Hawk and Dove are as lost as me lets me identify a bit more.
But woven into these small reveals are wild brawls with over the top action, befitting artist Rob Liefeld's style.
The book opens with Hawk and Dove interrogating Condor in his human form. Condor is an old guy and awful smug for someone staring down the barrels of multiple guns and 2 super-heroes.
Of course the standard scans like fingerprints and identification come up empty. I am still saying that this guy became Condor some time in the more distant past. That when Condor, he is powered up and vital. But as a human he reverts to his normal age, maybe even more preserved.
Maybe the avatars of war come about during times of great strife? Could he be the avatar from WWI?
In any case, he isn't saying anything.
Hawk asks for some alone time with Condor prompting an interesting conversation between Dove and Officer Watanabe. Throughout this book, there have been some hints that there might be a darker undercurrent to Dawn/Dove. Who does keep her in check?
Is part of this darkness based in her origin? Her vague encounter with Don? I don't know if I need Dove to be tainted. The comic world needs more pure heroes. After all, she wielded the white light and was a powerful force of good in Blackest Night.
We then flashback to Dove's battle with Swan seeing how it turned out. How did Dove beat Swan?
This was the moment of the book for me. First off, Dove seems to fire some sort of energy bolt during this fight. But more important, she hints at part of her origin that are new. What does she mean that she had to fight with people just to eat, how scum tried to do unimaginable things to her. That has never been part of her origin before. She was part of a well-to-do family and only became Dove when she rescued her mother from terrorists.
This has to be a new reveal. But what does that mean for her psyche? And how is she the avatar of peace if she has this anger inside her?
The battle ends in a stunning way when Swan filets Dove, a wound which emanates a massive amount of energy which seems to vaporize Swan.
So more mystery here and that's a good thing. What are the extent of Dove's power? What is so special about that knife?
And then Condor gives us more clues. He is out to kill the members of the War Circle. So Condor and Osprey aren't avatars for other ideals or concepts; they are also Avatars of War. This has a major 'Highlander' vibe to it. Condor wants to kill the other avatars to gain their power.
But the subtle hint is the British accent. I am sticking with my WWI soldier origin idea for Condor. Maybe he begged for power before he rushed from the trenches, fighting for yards of land?
Now I have to say I don't understand all of this.
It turns out that Swan didn't want to kill Dove, but instead use the wound to open up a conduit to another realm, allowing Swan to become a wraith? And that's because Condor is interested in Deadman as well?
This was the one part of the book that befuddled me. Why is this part of Condor's plan?
But while I don't know why Condor is interested in Deadman, his plan works. Swan is able to ethereally attack Deadman and capture him. How does this help Condor get more avatars' power?
Unless this is some way of getting Hawk and Dove to head to Nanda Parbat where they will receive some exposition about their origins from either a mystic tome or a wizened elder. (I still like the slow boil reveals better.)
Finally, in a nice way to tie in to the other running plot in the book, Condor is freed when the police station is overrun by the zombie-men of Alexander Quirk. Condor is able to slip away in the chaos.
But I like his other little comment on the way out. Why is Dove getting violent. Is she being changed by her time near Hawk? Is that what happens to Avatars of Peace, eventually they are spoiled by their comrades and burn out. Could that be why Don died?
So we are getting more and more information about the mystic tapestry of the avatars and what they represent. And, for me, that is the best part of the book. I want to learn it all ... and I want to learn it all now ... but I am savoring the ride. To be honest, it reminds me a bit of the last Hawk and Dove series, the Kesel book, when we were teased for a while with glimpses of fur under Hawk's costume and wondering just what it all meant.
This book remains a giddy pleasure amidst the new 52.