Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Hawk And Dove #2

Hawk and Dove #2 came out last week and continued to be a high octane wild ride of a comic.

Yes, one draw to this comic is the 'pedal to the metal' action aspect. With a character like Hawk, my guess is that some physical confrontation is going to need to be in nearly every issue. And if there is one thing I think Rob Liefeld is great at it is 'big action'. 

But more importantly, the foundation of the characters and who they are looks like it is going to be as big a part of this book as the skull bashing. As I have said in the past, the concept and myth of Hawk and Dove as always been one that I have enjoyed. What does it mean to be an avatar? Where does their power come from? How are they chosen? This was explored a bit in the 1990s Karl/Barbara Kesel series. And I think that writer Sterling Gates is going to be exploring that as well. These aren't 2 people in costumes, they are representatives of War and Peace. There is a lot that could be mined there. The cool thing about that is the underlying mysteries of that background feels like it is on a slow boil as opposed to explosive action around it. It makes for a nice feel.

The book opens up with Hawk and Dove cleaning out a 'zombie robot' lab of last issue's mad scientist villain Dr. Quirk. Quirk looks to be an ongoing bad guy in the book and I love the term 'Monster of Mass Destruction'.

There is also some pure fun in watching Hawk just bash these guys into submission. Hawk really feels like a force of nature in this book so far.

Of course, this opening does mean that last issue's cliffhanger of the 'other' avatar is left unanswered.

But Dove is allowed to get into the action as well, kicking some zombie butt too!

One thing that is a driving theme in this book is the dichotomy between the main characters. They are completely different, with opposing viewpoints and styles. That is part of the draw of this book, seeing how these two people can work together. And even why should they work together?

Anyways, one way that is shown in the book is in their fighting styles. Hawk just seems to wade into battle, brawling. Contrast that to Dove who seems to have an almost surgical approach, focused for one devastatingly precise blow. That is just a great panel.

If there is one low point to the book it is the forced relationship between Dove and Deadman. Poor Boston Brand, miffed that Dawn is hanging out with Hank ... so upset he sulks off.

The Dove/Deadman romance didn't feel right in Brightest Day and here it seems to drag the comic down a bit.

Plus, I don't recall it in Brightest Day, but I don't know how Dove is talking to Deadman in his ghost form. Do they have some 'special' connection?

But for me, the juice of the issue was the discussion between the 'other' avatars in the book.

Last issue we saw this brown clad avatar Condor. It seems he has tracked down and  captured another avatar named Osprey. I like how the costumes of the male avatars have a similar feel to them although the color scheme and cowl details are all different.

Condor seems like a real bad seed, claiming to have eaten people, keeping Osprey in a state of agony so his powers don't fizzle (remember danger/injustice is what triggers Hawk and Dove's abilities). And he even seems to have an acolyte.

Now I would have loved hearing what Osprey and Condor are the avatars of. But maybe that reveal is in the future. But the fact that there may be many more avatars is very intriguing to me. Why haven't we heard of them before? What do they represent? Who do they serve.

But this was the biggest moment in the book, if only because it sets up a major reveal for our main characters in the future.

The young woman kills Osprey and in that act absorbs his avatar powers. She then transforms into Swan, a gold colored similarly garbed female avatar like Dove.

But let's think about this for a second. Female kills male avatar. Female absorbs male's power and becomes an avatar.

So what does that mean about Don and Dawn? How exactly did she get his powers? We know Don died while trying to save some kids in the Crisis (if that still is canon). We know he may not have had his powers at that time? But is there more to this story? What is the secret between Don and Dawn? And what does this gruesome scene mean.

Now I hope that Dawn didn't kill Don. But certainly this adds a big wrinkle, a huge mystery to her gaining his powers.

The rest of the issue takes place at a White House dinner honoring Hank's father.

It was nice to see Ren, Hank's erstwhile girlfriend from the prior H&D series back again. Gates has made her a reporter, having already interviewed some major politicians. I kind of need to jibe all this with the Hank and Dawn. I know Hank is thinking of going back to college ... but just how old is he? Should he have graduated by now? Could Ren have ascended so quickly while be in her early 20s?

Ren and Hank's relationship was always shaky, mostly because he is so combustible. And it looks like things haven't changed. Even as exes, they seem both irritated with each other (she is sick of him acting as Hawk, he thinks she got her job because of her looks) and attracted to each other. There is some undercurrent here of two bigger than life personalities here being drawn together.

And that sense is fueled more when Ren icily notices that Dawn is also present. Seems like Ren might be a little jealous of Hank's 'work wife'.

I think it would be tough to write Hawk and Dove long term if they were romantically linked. But there has always been that feeling there too as if two opposing halves can make a whole. I am dating myself, but it reminds me of Bruce Willis and Cybil Sheppard on Moonlighting. When they seemed attracted to each other but were fighting those feelings the show crackled. Once they got together, the energy in the show was gone. So I hope Hank and Dawn aren't going to end up together.

Of course, Condor and Swan are (for some reason) on the hunt for Hawk and crash the party endangering the lives of both Judge Hall and the President! It looks like there will be more crazy action next issue too. I doubt this cliffhanger has to be addressed. I hope there is an all out brawl!

As much as I am loving the action here, like a blockbuster crazy summer movie, it is the avatar mythology stuff that interests me the most. What is Sterling Gates plan here? And I'm mean it when I can't wait to see how the implications of Swan's origins mean in terms of Dove's. That was such a huge scene for this book.

This book seems to have it all - fun action and a deeper layer being scratched at. And I want to be an avatar in this comic. I'll be Peregrine, and make my colors dark blue. I'll be the avatar of pessimism!

Overall grade: B+


collectededitions said...

Indeed glad to see Gates using Ren; I had hoped some of this title's old cast would appear. Considering the writer is Sterling Gates, I shouldn't have worried that he'd come through.

Anonymous said...

Lol. Funny thing is a few months prior to this I had an avatar idea named The Osprey with a very similar color scheme-but female, instead. This looks like a great book! Can't wait to see Sterling at NYCC this week!-ealperin

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

I am glad that Gates is building on the prior continuity for these characters despite the relaunch. To be honest, I am most interested in the 'Don' part of this book, how he interacted with Dawn. But it was great to see Ren again.

And I am jealous of everyone going to the NYCC as I just couldn't swing it this year. Make sure you say hi to Sterling for me!

Ayhe said...

I am liking so much what Sterling is building up :)
And poor Osprey! That scene impressed me a lot!
I cannot wait for next month :D