Today, Drew and (guest writer) Mike Logsdon are discussing Savage Hawkman 0, originally released September 26th, 2012. Savage Hawkman 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Drew: Patrick has mentioned recently (a couple of times, actually), that he has no patience for Kryptonian history. It’s a fair criticism — it has relatively limited dramatic potential in that we have no emotional investment in anyone on the planet, and that there don’t seem to be any rules governing what can and cannot happen there — so what happens when a story is set on a planet I care even less about? Hawkman 0 unintentionally answers that question by being so damn boring.
The story begins on Thanagar, where a war with the Daemonites and Czarnians has just ended in Thanagarian victory. On the advice of his daughter’s peace-loving boyfriend, Katar Hol, The Thanagarian king hosts a banquet celebrating their newfound peace, going so far as to invite representatives from the other planets. But the Daemonites use it as an opportunity to wreak biological warfare, sneaking germs in the casserole they brought to the potluck. The ensuing plague robs every Thanagarian of their wings, and makes them all retch exaggeratedly.
The plague also kills the king. Well, shoot, this was all Katar’s idea. I wonder if he’ll face some kind of penalty, or at least suffer some kind of crisis of conscience over the loss. NOPE. It’s never mentioned again. GOOD USE OF FIVE PAGES.
The rest of the story follows the king’s son, Corsar, who seeks the mythical Nth metal to restore Thanagar to its rightful glory, and Katar, who thinks that’s kind of crazy. They keep having more or less the same conversation, as seeking the Nth metal costs more and more lives. Meanw — HOLY SHIT! LOOK OUT FOR THAT GIANT SPACE SLUG!!
Did you know Thanagar had giant space slugs? It’s okay if you didn’t — nobody on Thanagar knew, either. Anyway, Katar accidentally touches the Nth metal sample that had been recovered before that slug came out of nowhere, and it turns him into Hawkman. On a completely unrelated note, Corsar wants to invade some other planets, but — surprise — Katar doesn’t like that idea. An incredibly poorly staged fight ensues.
When I read this through the first few times, I had absolutely no idea what happened. I knew, based on the aftermath, that something happened to Corsar, but it wasn’t clear to me if Katar had done it, or even what it was. Joe Bennet draws electricity like it’s water, making this look more like an aquarium is exploding. Apparently, Katar was standing in front of some electrical equipment, which Corsar hit when Katar jumped out of the way of his blow, electrocuting him. I wouldn’t normally quibble about such a brief series of events in a fight sequence, but that electricity kills Corsar, so the cause and effect here is pretty important. Without a clear sense of what happened, we can’t appreciate the “wrongfully accused” portion of Hawkman’s origin, which was apparently so important, Rob Liefeld felt compelled to include it in spite of it being a tired-ass trope.
But it’s all tired-ass tropes from here on out. Katar’s girlfriend (who you’ll remember is also Corsar’s sister, because you’re good at remembering dry facts you’ve been given no reason to care about) VOWS TO HUNT HIM DOWN. He manages to escape to a spaceship, where he gets AMNESIA.
While “The Fugitive but with amnesia” sounds like a pretty hilarious NBC drama (he’s on the run, trying to solve the crime he doesn’t remember he didn’t commit), it makes for very lazy storytelling. Characters exist solely to advance the plot (hey, remember that king that died?), voiding any stakes we might put in the action, making Katar less of a tragic hero, and more of just a guy in a ridiculous costume. In failing to justify its existence, Liefeld and co-scriptor Mark Poulton wear the obligatory nature of this origin openly, disregarding that anyone might actually read this shit.
It’s not the absolute train-wreck I thought it might be, but its lazy mediocrity might actually be more insidious. Thinking about it has certainly made me angry, anyway. Mike, I don’t know what your experience with this title has been, but this issue left me with no further interest. Can you get yourself to care about what happens on Thanagar?
Mike: Hi Drew! It’s a pleasure to be writing for Retcon Punch once again. To answer your question, I have never given a single fuck about Thanagar. Nope, not a one. Thanagar represents a version of Hawkman that I’ve never been into. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate where fans of Katar are coming from. I understand that Hawkworld was a very well received mini-series back the in the early 90’s, but that version just wasn’t for me. My favorite Hawkman is the one who is cursed to reincarnate throughout history in order to find and then tragically lose his one true love (Shayera/Shiera) over and over again. I find it way more unique than the simple space cop version that we got in the 90’s and are currently getting in The New 52.
As for my experience with this title previous to the ZERO issue, I gave the first issue a try and was unfortunately not impressed and dropped the title. That being said, I was aware that Carter Hall was back to being an archeologist who secretly fought crime as Hawkman. I did keep tabs on the character, however, so I knew going in to the ZERO issue that Hawkman was given the Hawkworld-esque origin once again and that Carter had some kind of amnesia that he got from watching too many soap operas. With that, I wasn’t surprised to see an origin story take place on Thanagar. What I was surprised to see was how completely unoriginal this origin story was. Oh wait, did I say surprised? Because I meant the complete opposite of that knowing that Rob Liefeld was in charge. But Drew, you cover Liefeld’s unoriginality quite beautifully (and hilariously I might add).
That being the case, I’d like to talk about my biggest gripe about this new origin. That being the new “Shayera.” I use quotes because the Shayera seen in this issue in completely unlike any other version of the character I’ve ever seen before. The only similarity I could see was that she was shacking up with Hawkman. Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite cut it. Shayera is supposed to be every bit as honorable and formidable a warrior as Hawkman. Oh yeah, and she isn’t easily driven to insane revenge schemes. First off, she’s completely blind to her brother’s obvious insanity and then to Katar’s potential innocence. I understand that she’s been through a lot by losing her father and brother in a relatively short amount of time but, come on, isn’t she supposed to love Katar? Shouldn’t she at least let him attempt to explain himself before she brands him a traitor and tries to kill the guy? Nope, because, like you said Drew, it advances the plot. The horrible, horrible, I can barely stand to read it, plot.
Oh well, at least we have Kendra Saunders over on Earth 2. She’s doing alright. Speaking of things that are alright (unlike that segue), I really like what the Nth metal is doing nowadays. Check out the scene below.
The Nth metal now seems to be some sort of shape-shifting alloy that bonds to its host. Hawkman now simply has to think and his costume appears. I always think it’s cool when costumes can just “activate” like that. Flash and Green Lantern are great examples of this, and Superman has recently joined the club too. I always thought about how uncomfortable it must be to wear your costume underneath your clothes all day or how time consuming it must be to change into your crime-busting duds. By the time the hero is suited up the perps have probably gotten away! When all you have to do is press a button or think a thought, the hero is ready in mere seconds to punch crime in the face. Plus, it’s a super cool visual.
Overall, this issue was a letdown, and I’m not really interested in the ongoing adventures of this version of Hawkman. I was bored with Tony Daniel’s portrayal of the character and completely unimpressed with Liefeld’s. I wish I could say that the skies are going to clear up for Hawkman, but looking at future solicitations, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Mike Logsdon aka Mikyzptlk is a blogger living in Nashville. He is a master of Kung Fu and reading comic books. Find out which one of those things is true by checking out his Blog, Facebook Page, Twitter and Tumblr!
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