“Hawk & Dove” was a comic that I wanted to like, perhaps because the deck was stacked against it. I remember when the comic was abruptly and unceremoniously cancelled to provide a new shock ending for “Armageddon 2001,” as well as when Dawn Granger was brought back to life in the pages of “JSA” as the start of the duo’s return. And I’ll freely admit that when I first bought a copy of “New Mutants” #86 at my local record store back in the day, I was excited by Rob Liefeld’s art.
Unfortunately, even with giving the comic the benefit of the doubt, “Hawk & Dove” #1 just doesn’t work.
Sterling Gates will forever be in my head the man who made “Supergirl” a good comic, but his script here does nothing for me. There’s a “science terrorist” mentioned here as potentially a major villain, but so far he’s nothing more than a face on a screen, and his zombie plane is dull as dishwater. The characters are remarkably free of personality, just some snarling back and forth, and a cliche scene where Dawn explains that she hasn’t told Hank about a deep dark secret connecting her to Don Hall, the first Dove. Add in a clumsy re-telling of the duo’s origin and this feels lethargic and, sadly, boring. The only hook I found at all was that the duo is once more enrolled at Georgetown University, but aside from mentioning that it’s time to register for classes, there’s nothing even there just yet.
As for Liefeld’s art, it’s exactly what you’ll expect. There’s a lot of brash energy, but as soon as you look at the details it’s hard to miss lots of little mistakes. A zombie’s pupils appear and vanish from one panel to the next. Deadman has the body of a football player on his first page, then lean and acrobatic three pages later. Hawk holds up a random flunky by his chest in a pose that manages to defy gravity. The plane’s controls shift from a Y shape to an O shape. The Reflecting Pool’s wall jumps from ankle to chest height from one panel to the next. And of course, more grimacing teeth panels than you can imagine. On the bright side, Liefeld did learn that Washington DC doesn’t have skyscrapers, which was a pleasant note of accuracy that so many artists miss. At any rate, I appreciate that Liefeld was the artist for the mini-series that revived the characters back in the day (along with inker Karl Kesel), but this doesn’t feel like a good fit for anyone.
Since Hawk was brought back to life in “Blackest Night,” we’ve seen the duo in “Brightest Day,” “Birds of Prey,” and now here. And in all three, I’ve gotten the distinct feeling that no one has the slightest idea what to do with these characters. All of these comics have read like someone was assigned Hank and Dawn, rather than any particular desire to write about them. Perhaps it’s time to retire them for a while if this is the best we can get. Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld have each done much better in their careers, but this isn’t something to be proud of.