What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about Hawkman #23! It feels like forever ago since the last issue of Hawkman that I picked up, and there was a reason for that. When Year of the Villain hit, there was some cool changes that the DC Universe went through. One of those things was the way certain heroes were twisted to the dark side between the spread of Doom, and the infection of the Batman Who Laughs. Hawkman just so happened to be one of those who was caught up in the plans of the BWL. This created a struggle for me because I enjoyed where his story was going before this chaos came into his life. Though with that said, here I am trying to look for a reason to jump back in.
Off the bat this issue started off on a good note making certain that everyone is on the same page. This is probably the best time with a lot of ongoing series out there to make use of that page count to summarize what has happened up to this point. Of course this is easier said than done when most upcoming issues are already done and waiting to hit the press for distribution, but you get it in where you can.
What I appreciated most about Hawkman #23 was the fact that it is a story about isolation and fear in a time of pandemic, written and drawn before the world knew we are in a time of pandemic. Words from the writer himself. I don’t know if this was planned, or just convenient, but the idea itself won me over quickly. From start to finish it felt like this story was speaking to us from different point in time. It is unfortunate that so many things about life in 17th century Europe we could find familiar about the world today, but what can you do when reactions to such things are in human nature? The fear which leads people to make illogical decisions, the narratives people string together to make sense of the loss, the anger which makes regular people turn heroes into villains.
I think we all even knew where this story was headed knowing ahead of time that the Doctor would be hated and feared for his unique immunity to the disease. Yet that didn’t stop this creative team from finding an end to this tale which sees the light at the end of the tunnel. You never would have guessed how this version of Carter made it out of the situation he got into, and neither would you have guessed who would change what would have been a tragic end.
With this being another opportunity to step into a different life that Carter lived, this one was unique. In most cases so far, you are used to him actually being Hawkman in some capacity. Though being a mysterious Plague Doctor roaming 17th century Europe is a far different experience when he is nothing more than an active observer.
If there was one concern I may have had before getting into this issue, it was how the interiors would look. Sometimes the quality is stunning, other times it was satisfying. but again it has been some time since the last issue of Hawkman that I picked up. When I flipped open to that first page I was happy to see that once more the artwork was the least of the worries. There was a lot of hands on deck for this one, and it showed. Normally this would make me feel uneasy since in the process you can always risk losing a certain smoothness to the pencils, inks, and even colors. Fortunately there was none of that. Great detail in the pencils, anatomy of the characters was excellent, and the design of the Plague Doctor was fitting.
All in all, I felt myself drawn back into the series through the events of Hawkman #23. This brought the Sky Tyrant story to an end, while at the same time setting us up for something big to come next. It didn’t hurt either that fans of Hawkman and Hawkgirl were given a scene we were all looking forward to by the end.