Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Review: Hawkgirl: The Maw
It began in May of 2006, during a one-month, line-wide gimmick/promotion that, in retrospect, looks like one of several earlier attempts at a reboot that current co-publisher Dan DiDio had made on the road to fall of 2011's "New 52" reboot. This one was dubbed "One Year Later," and the idea was that after the multiverse-shaking events of Infinite Crisis, all of DC's books would jump one year ahead in time, giving creators an opportunity to do something fresh and new (and not dependent on the fallout of the just-completed crossover storyline) and readers the opportunity to jump on to any book in the line without worrying about joining a story already in progress.
For the most part, this meant new creative teams, new costumes, new team line-ups, new status quos, and so on. The Hawkman monthly received one of the most dramatic overhauls: It's title would be changed to Hawkgirl (although the numbering would start with #50, the month after Hawkman #49), it would now star Hawkgirl, the aforementioned creative team of Simonson and Chaykin would take over for the departing Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Chris Batista, and as Hawkman's exact whereabouts would be a mystery; he was simply MIA after the events of Infinite Crisis).I read the first issue, maybe first two issues, and then abandoned it.
What is immediately apparent about Hawkgirl, what differentiates it from Hawkman comics before and after, and from most of what one could find on the stands in terms of super-comics in 2006 was, of course, the presence of Chaykin's artwork. His big, expressive, cartoony faces, his blocky figures often half-frozen in hulking, Kirby-like poses, his obvious delight in rendering textures to the point of rarely letting a scene go by without including black lace in it somewhere...Hawkgirl had it's own, distinct visual look and hook.
New Guardians, at the moment).
Chaykin draws Hawkgirl Kendra Saunders as a cheesecakey heroine, and it works. Simonson's narrative is as pulpy as any involving the Hawks I can recall—she battles cultists, mummies and Lovecraftian space-gods, she explores hidden temples and shares panels with Egyptian deities. She sleeps in tiny, black lace nightgowns...
One could argue if that's the best direction to go in with Hawkgirl, who as a star of Justice League Unlimited was, like Green Lantern John Stewart, a better known hero than the one she was technically a derivation from, and also a potential gateway hero for young would-be DC readers, but it's not a wrong direction, either and, unlike, say, Ed Benes' run on Justice League of America around the same time, he wasn't violating the spirit of the script with cheesecake.
That script finds Kendra Saunders working at the Stonechat Museum in St. Roch, Louisiana (which is to New Orleans as Gotham City once was to New York City), which she protects by night as Hawkgirl. In both identities, she has dealings with handsome men, like a museum co-worker (the son of the institution's director) and a police detective.
Meanwhile, Hawkman is still lost in space somewhere, and she's torn between holding a candle for him—something that makes her uncomfortable, because they were lover's in past lives, which he remembers more clearly than she does—and the attention of that handsome detective.
The immortal bad guy who is always hounding the Hawks is hanging around, and there's a e thingee in the basement that wants to devour her.
It's pure, unambitous genre stuff, but it's successful, and it all looks really great. Without Chaykin, this could easily prove tedious—as later volumes, collecting issues from after Chaykin's short run, will demonstrate—but for this volume at least, Hawkgirl is effective pulp heroine as old school superhero. Good writing, good art, good comic.