The last issue of Hawkman was a strong reassurance that the Year of the Villain storyline would not truly interfere with the direction of this book. For all that there is to like about that storyline, I’m sure a lot of readers out there had worries about what it might do to those solo books which may or may not have needed to be on their own. I had my own concerns about this conflict with the Shadow Thief, but so far it has proven to be the perfect encounter to further encourage this side of Carter that has been clawing away at him since figuring out his past.
Hawkman #17 threw us right into the thick of round two for Hawkman versus Shadow Thief. I was very eager to see what would come of this side of the guy that almost reminds you of the Savage Hawkman. How Robert Venditti allowed this anger to take over was thrilling because this is not the kind of action scene we are used to. It’s not normal for Hawkman to swing with that much aggression or little resistance towards the bloodlust that comes with being a warrior at the core. Obviously this was not going to be so easy given that there was something The Shade forgot to tell him along the way either. That much also made this thrilling since this was at the same time a moment of realization for how he could become his own worst enemy. Where The Shade fit into this was very engaging because we got to cut through most of the grueling work of someone noticing that there is something wrong with Carter.
Through the events of this issue, an enemy also did genuinely take form since it was not too long ago that DC gave us our first look at Hawkman transformed into one of the infected by the Batman Who Laughs, but the big question was how? This issue doesn’t quite give us the answer to that, but we surely get a start towards that descent into madness.
When it came to Shadow Thief, I did appreciate the experience in this story arc. This chapter in particular was the first time where we were seeing the guy pushed enough to that point where he could express what his actual endgame was towards this attack on Hawkman. It was one thing to make that mad grab for power, but it was another thing to try to achieve his personal desires at the same time. At the end of the day, a lot of these villains are petty criminals who have lost time after time. In the case of the lowest like this guy? Embarrassed to a point where there is no ignoring the idea that they could ever topple their arch-nemesis. This was Shadow Thief’s moment, and it was one hell of an issue to let him indulge in this once in a lifetime opportunity.
By the end of this story arc, I have to admit that wasn’t as bad as I thought moving on from the pencils of Bryan Hitch. When you have an artist like him onboard for a book? It’s hard to imagine getting used to the same quality of work for any artist(s) who take up the job after. With that said, credit where it is due that Pat Olliffe and Tom Palmer were able to deliver solid work with the interiors from start to finish. Given that most of this was set in the Shadowlands, that takes a special attention to detail, and being capable of handling so much black without losing focus in what goes on within any given scene. They were up to the task, as well as being able to visually capture this different side to Hawkman who was much more brutal than what we were used to. I mean, there was a lot of blood too, and to that extent I appreciated the colors from Jeremiah Skipper who didn’t go too wild between also what involved black, and the red for the blood. With a good sense of lighting he was able to do a lot with his pallet.
As one door closes, another one is blasted wide open. By the end of this story arc, it has become pretty clear what was meant by blood and war being in the forecast in Carter Hall’s future. Knowing his past was only the start to understanding the kind of person he would become. Hawkman #17 gave us a taste of what that person looks like, and it was more than reason enough to anticipate what the next issue has to offer.