Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: Hawk And Dove #6

So I just don't know where to begin my review of Hawk and Dove #6. Perhaps the bottom line is the best place.

I am dropping the title.

Maybe the best place to start this review is going back to the very nature of the New 52 relaunch. The way it has sounded in a variety of places is that creators 'pitched' there ideas about titles to DC and the powers-that-be in the company gave the green light to the pitch that had the most merit or sales appeal. But someone somewhere must have liked the idea enough to say 'go for it'.

So as a reader, when I have seen many of the first 52 undergo 'new directions' and 'new creative teams' before the book is a half a year old, it makes me question the wisdom of the people making creative decisions. It also makes me wonder if DC has the guts to give a solid story the chance to gain a word of mouth buzz before pulling the plug due to low sales.

Case in point, Hawk and Dove. I am sure Sterling Gates made a pitch about the nature of the avatars, an interesting wrinkle between Dawn and Don, all while rolling in some older threads and characters. And yet after 4+ issues, and admittedly lower sales, Gates was shown the door and Rob Liefeld was given the reins of the book. And just like that, an interesting story arc is truncated and swept under the rug.

And to add insult to injury to those of us who enjoyed the initial premise, DC then cancelled the book. Why not let Gates and his initial pitch run the course of the book if it was going to go away in a couple of months anyways?

Instead we get Hawk and Dove #6, a book riddled with inconsistencies, bizarre characterization, and plenty of big splashy panels and double page spreads making it feel like a 10page story spread out over 20 pages. And this book added very little to the characters or the story so far.

Even the cover seems off as it makes it seem like there is no Hawk in the book. But Hawk is here. This isn't Batman and Dove as much as Hawk and Dove, guest starring Batman and Robin.

I spoke of inconsistencies and the thing that gets me is that Rob Liefeld both wrote and drew the book. So there really should be no inconsistencies.

So the book opens with Hawk being chased/fighting old Batman villain around the rooftops of Gotham. So if it one thing I have learned in these six issues, Rob Liefeld loves rooftops and warehouses. Anyways, we get several pages of a slugfest with lots of closeups of Hawk like above.

But on page 6 we find out that Blockbuster was chasing Hawk to get an amulet that Hawk happens to be wearing. Except where was that amulet the first 5 pages. Certainly not in the first panel I showed (or any others before this one). Inconsistent.

There isn't much discussion about the amulet, where it comes from, its powers, or why Hawk decided that wearing it loosely around his neck was the best way to protect it.

Blockbuster takes off, but before Hawk can give chase, he is wrapped up by a bat-rope thrown by Robin. If this is Damian, he looks about 10yrs too old. This looks like Tim Drake. Inconsistent.

Now why Robin would stop the hero and not the known supervillain behemoth, I can't explain.

It does lead to some sassing between Hawk and Robin. Really, Hawk is going to get into a schoolboy tiff with a 12 yr old? And then the avatar of war lands a straight kick to Robin's jaw. Now earlier we saw Hawk slug Blockbuster and rattle the brute. So shouldn't this kick explode Damian's head? Inconsistent.

Batman shows up, growling that Gotham is his city and Hawk and Dove need to play by his rules. It turns out that Blockbuster is the errand boy for the Necromancer who is gathering magic items to do some spell. And where is she doing it? In a warehouse. At least it isn't on a rooftop.

Batman and Hawk fight Blockbuster. Batman lands a punch to Blockbuster which makes him groggy enough for Hawk to finish him off. But earlier, a Hawk right hook to the chin followed by a Dove (said to be stronger than Hawk in this issue) kick to the chops doesn't even slow Blockbuster down. So is Batman stronger than them?

And then Batman casually asks if 'all the avatars of war' are as strong as Hawk. But Hawk just learned about their existence. So how does Batman know? I know ... because he's Batman. But it felt off and seemed to downplay the importance of the revelation in the last arc.

Meanwhile, Dove grabs the amulet, breaking the spell.

Here is another inconsistency that irked me. Robin says his left jab, right uppercut combo is stopping Necromancer. But that's a right cross not an uppercut. Again, this is Liefeld drawing Liefeld's words. They should be consistent.

I always say comics work best when words and images complement each other. When they are out of synch, it makes for lousy reading.

And just like that the book is over with the heroes striking a classic team-up pose. But it feels forced, not natural. Doesn't anyone believe in looking someone in the face when having a conversation?

Batman says that if the two can learn to work together they might be a valuable addition to the hero community. But this isn't a 'new' Hawk and Dove. They have been around for a while, especially Hawk. So Batman talking about them as if they are rookies felt wrong.

Anyways, so this book felt like something of a scramble. And there was nothing about it that makes me want to read the last 2 issues of the run. And it's a shame because the threads about the avatars mythos in the first issues and the Dawn/Don connection won't be resolved.

But that means that DC thought that THIS book was a better direction than the way the book was going the first 4 issues. And that is the scariest thing about this issue. Because it makes me worry.

Overall grade: F


Martin Gray said...

Thank you for taking one for the team, you are released - dropping this comic is the only sane decision. 'Inconsistent' could easily be replaced by 'stupid' or 'sloppy' or 'amateurish'. And there's no excuse; as you say, Liefeld is writing AND drawing. As an industry veteran he should do better.

And what the heck are the editors doing? They're signing off on this intelligence-insulting nonsense. Never mind the use of such clunky terms as 'recollapsing', they're not even catching bad grammar such as 'are' when it should be 'is' in that sentence, 'combo' being singular.

Gene said...

If this is how DC is going to treat Sterling Gates, then perhaps Marvel should look up his phone number.

Ayhe said...

I´m very sad.
I always liked the H&D characters and I was enjoying Gates´s plot...I was so intrigued about the avatar mythos!
I too think that Gates was treated very unfairly, cutting the wings of a great story before it could fly :/

I wish Sterling Gates all the best and good luck with his projects!

I hope Liefeld will score better in the next books :)

Anonymous said...

I actually thought this was a step up from the horrific issue #5. The mysterious vanishing amulet was infuriating and I was sad to see no follow up at all on the Dove-Deadman breakup. However, this was a nice, if instantly forgettable adventure in Gotham and I feel that Rob Liefeld actually does write a better Hawk than Sterling Gates did. His tough guy "Batman puckerin' up to me?" attitude was very entertaining as were his comments about Gotham. I really do believe that Hawk would be the first to engage in a silly fight Robin, too.

The art, however, was not Liefeld's best effort. So clunky at times. That pains me especially, as I try to defend the guy whenever I can. I am enjoying the heck out of "The Infinite", the series he is drawing right now for Image. Just great time-travelling fun with robots, guns and pretty girls. By also taking over Hawkman and Deathstroke, I fear that he's gonna spread himself too thin, that he will rush things more with the result of even more inconsistencies. All I want out of a Liefeld comic is an enjoyable ride but he really, really needs someone to police his sloppiness.

And in the end I'll still miss a series about Hawk & Dove...

wr said...

Take a look at http://www.washingtonheightswarlord.com/Liefeld.jpg
What's with Batman's left stump?
Hawk's deformed chest?
Is Robin trapped knee-deep in concrete?
HOW does Liefeld continue to get work???

Anonymous said...

I don't see why you're complaining about deformed chests, short-statured Robins or freakish stumps, when their bloody faces are continually warping all over the place. I don't think a skull bends when it's moving ...