There have been grumblings of late that Jim Starlin was preparing to do a Hawkman story that may (or may not) have included a "reset" button for the character. It hit stands last Wednesday and, sure enough, it contains said reset button.
Without spoiling everything within this special, let's just say that DC has managed to find a way, yet again, to convince a creator that throwing out the baby with the bathwater (even though the baby is that of another creator) is OK. Not only is it OK, but DC appears convinced that certain characters need to be kicked in the reset button every so many years. Right now appears to be Hawkman's turn.
The biggest piece behind the story within these pages is the identity crisis Hawkman is forced into -â€" his own. The Demiurge appears and offers to set straight the world and history of Hawkman, in order to preserve his own future path. Along the way, it is revealed that Hawkman and the Demiurge will cross paths again, and although he appears to have done Hawkman a favor in removing a falsehood from the Winged Warrior's reality, all may not be as it seems.
The over-arching story has an almost predictable cliche ambiance around it, but Starlin tries his darnedest to derail that cliche, offering cosmic platitudes as only Starlin can. It's the cosmic spin that doesn't make this issue work for me. Hawkman has felt like a bit player in the most recent Rann-Thanagar War, and he feels equally unconvincing in this title bearing his name.
I would be interested to learn what Geoff Johns and Rags Morales think of this book, as it undoes a great deal of what that team did so amazingly well.
Starlin also drops a clue that Hawkman is a part of the Aberrant Six -â€" whatever that means. Obviously, it is a dangling plot thread, thrown out there to inspire readers to want to know more about the Six, to solve the mystery and collect them all! It rings hollow and gimmicky to me. I wonder if it will be addressed any more completely than Brad Meltzer's immortal Thirteen from "Justice League of America". Other plot lines are dangled like fish in front of the reader, but none of them sing out to be made into follow-up adventures.
Starlin performs well on the art chores, but clearly he is still looking for a comfort level to composing the figure of Hawkman. There are influences of Hawkman prior, including from Murphy Anderson and Rags Morales. Starlin's Hawkman, however, is bulky, but not powerful, and comes across as frequently inconsistent. Kalisz turns in some grand colors, which in some spots override the visual composition of Starlin, but in other areas, the colors help a seemingly static panel or two.
Personally, as someone who has lived closely to the character and history of Hawkman for the past eighteen months, this "bold new direction" for the character concerns me greatly. Geoff Johns and James Robinson hammered out the historical mess and made it a palatable story that fit the DCU to a "T". Obviously, however, DC felt that Hawkman would be better served as a space champion, given the redundancy of Rann-Thanagar skirmishes since 2005. I think DC just needs to revisit the character's successes and failures, make a note of them, staple the note to their forehead and make a solid effort to avoid the failures. With this issue, I see one of the failures â€"- uncertainty of character â€"- creeping back in and I fear Hawkman may have some fairly brutal days ahead of him.