Having once considered "Hawk & Dove" one of my favorite titles, I was excited about the announcement that this book was going to be included in the relaunch from DC Comics. I actually got even more enthused by the fact that Rob Liefeld was billed as the artist on the book. After all, it was Liefeld who illustrated the first adventures of Hawk and Dove that I bought, the 1988 miniseries written by Barbara and Karl Kesel.
Unfortunately, Liefeld's art is more. . . stylistic now than it was then, and the story is hardly more than a shadow of what the Kesels delivered. Sure, it features Hank Hall as Hawk and Dawn Grainger as Dove and it takes place in Washington, D.C., but the similarities pretty well end there.
Sterling Gates, whose work I've really enjoyed elsewhere, seems puzzled by what these characters need to be motivated by, and offers up a twist on the Kestrel concept from that 1988 mini and adds in zombie-like creatures for good measure and unnecessary background noise. This time, however, the concept has grown lame by including counterparts to Hawk and Dove in the form of Condor and Swan, like horribly developed Earth-3 villains or lame Bizarro replicas. Hank is as one-dimensional as he has ever been, which is not necessarily a good thing. Gates writes Hank/Hawk as a sexist, self-centered jerk, which Hawk should be, but Gates really smashes it over the reader's head here. Dove, on the other hand, is alternately boring and standoffish. Neither character offers much to latch on to.
The art on the book doesn't do much to remedy that problem. While there is absolutely no arguing Rob Liefeld's zest for drawing comics, zest doesn't equal technique, storytelling, or anatomy. There are wild shifts in storytelling, with characters seemingly teleporting into and out of each other's way. You can sample some of this issue right here on CBR if you'd like to get a taste of what I'm referring to. Yes, the preview pages are in order. No, I cannot explain how Hawk got there nor where there is as it apparently isn't the same lab Dove is standing in two pages earlier.
If Gates and Liefeld were working Marvel-style, then there would be some excuse for the sudden (apparent) scene jumps, but there's no excuse for the wild anatomy. When an old friend of Hank Hall's turns up, her pose is so wooden it is almost as though Liefeld simply traced a Barbie doll instead of tempting fate and trying to accurately render a female character. Another area of concern is the final page of this issue. I'm not completely sure, but it appears as though Condor has snapped someone's head off of his body. A second, more studious analysis reveals the body is still there, but not in any sort of naturally possible way. That's gonna hurt and that character is going to want to see a chiropractor.
I'm hinging hope on the art side of this book that, like the last time "Hawk & Dove" was published by DC, Greg Guler magically appears from nowhere to take over the art chores and visually save this title.
By 1990s standards, this book would be an average -- at best - - story. By my standards, it has a long way to go to reach average. In reading this book, I cannot help but wonder what the vibe of the story is supposed to be. Is this supposed to be an over-the-top, retro-faux-1990s story, or is it just a mishmash of middling-to-good ideas that, when put together are just horribly wrong, like peanut butter on pizza? I don't know for certain, but I do know that with fifty-one other options, my wallet doesn't have much more patience for books of this caliber.