Hawkman #16 is written by Robert Venditti, with art by Patrick Olliffe, inks by Tom Palmer, colors by Jeremiah Skipper, and letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. Hawkman is published monthly by DC Comics.
Carl Sands, the Shadow Thief, is the master of the Shadowlands. In issues #14 and #15, he bested Hawkman and his old frenemy, the Shade at every turn. Sands literally stole their shadows from them. With nothing left to lose but their lives, Hawkman and the Shade venture to the Shadowlands to take on Sands.
Hawkman #16 starts off with a throwback tale, straight from the journal of Carter Hall, circa 1948. Hawkman and the Shade battled the Gentleman Ghost in London. The adventure sets up the long relationship between Carter and Shade, including the cane Carter gave to the Shade as a sign of friendship.
Hawkman #16 continues not only the push into the Shadowlands and how Sands has altered it, but the relationship between Hawkman and Shade. There is a comfortable feeling of camaraderie the two have. They have an open dialogue that showcases their long-time amity. Hawkman turns out to be the man who talked Shade out of a life of theft. In the present, it is the Shade who attempts to talk Hawkman off of his own dark path. Carter is taking a nosedive into increasingly violent behavior, so this is not the sane, deep thinking man Shade knows and respects.
However, aggression might be a necessity for their jaunt into the Shadowlands. Sands controls everything there and is remaking that world in his image. Shade’s power over the darkness is questionable at best. In the shifting landscape of the Shadowlands, the final battle begins to line up as the two protagonists are beside themselves.
Carter’s journal, and flashback accompanying it, are a treat. Each one offers new insight into Carter Hall. Venditti shows the breadth of this character without resorting to overly complicated backstory or making Carter overtly grim. This has happened with the character in the past with more or less success. Venditti manages to take every iteration of Hawkman’s persona and invest a little of it into every issue, tying it to the current story. Here, the Shadowlands could be making Carter more violent or it could be one of his many past angry lives surfacing. However, it affects the hero of the tale and drives not only the action but how Carter will proceed in issues to come.
Olliffe is a remarkable change from early series artist Hitch. Now that he has a few issues of Hawkman under his belt, it’s easy to notice the difference in penciling. Olliffe’s work is direct with apparent sketchiness that lends itself to simplicity. He offers a clear cut Shade, who is dapper with smooth lines and face. The Shadowlands are a fun treat, as Olliffe and inker Palmer blackens this issue in a variety of shadow monsters and twisted formations to make this dimension visually spectacular.
Skipper colors shadows enough to allow them to keep their shapes and stand out. The battle scenes are large and tumultuous while dialogue scenes appear more detailed. Many panels offer a faraway view in order to show the Shadowlands in continual transition. Between the art, the Shadowlands, and Carter’s descent, this is a dark issue in more ways than one.
Hawkman #16 is available wherever comic books are sold.
William J. Jackson is a small town laddie who self publishes books of punk genres, Victorian Age superheroes, rocket ships, and human turmoil. He loves him some comic books, Nature, Star Trek, and the fine art of the introvert.