Hawkman #17, from DC Comics, is written by Robert Venditti, with art by Pat Olliffe, inks by Tom Palmer, colors by Jeremiah Skipper, and letters by Richard Starkings of Comicraft. The ‘Darkness Within’ storyline comes to its violent conclusion with this issue. Hawkman and the Shade in one corner, and in the other are the Shadow Thief and his shadows.
The keyword for this climactic ending is definitely violence. Last issue, Hawkman fell under the torrential pull of his darker nature, one that takes pride in a hostile nature. The only thing keeping him from ending the life of Carl Sands, aka the Shadow Thief, is the Thief’s brand new control over the Shadowlands, courtesy of Lex Luthor. This is a take no prisoners showdown, one in which Hawkman has no interest in doing anything less than terminating Sands.
Venditti crafted a Hawkman in a millennia-long conflict against his own base desire, namely, destruction. Hawkman from his earliest incarnation is a herald for a dark god who has been a character tilted towards extreme behavior. As a man, a warrior and a hero, Carter Hall has battled to become a better man.
But within the past few issues, there is an overall darkness descending on the DC Universe and Hawkman is not immune. The Shade is determined to curb Carter’s insidious behavior, but as they battle literally darkens, it seems the worst is still to come. This is fitting, as the character came back into DC via the nightmarish Dark Nights: Metal miniseries.
Hawkman, as a character, has had many shades of personality over the course of eight decades. From mysterious loner, to loving husband, to grim Thanagarian cop, and more recently, Savage Hawkman. He has been a hero often shown as a hardliner. To a certain extent, it makes him more true to the pulp roots superhero comics sprang from in the 1930s, diehard adventurers busting up cultists and murderers and being fine with the idea of helping the enemy find an early grave. This series charts a swift rise and fall for Carter, who just defeated his grim past before this storyline began.
Venditti writes the character so well and the situation in the Shadowlands is dire. I can’t fault Hawkman for his reaction to Shadow Thief’s assaults. For one, it’s the character’s predatory nature he has always fought to keep from controlling him. True, there will be repercussions, but, the personality shifts and our hero’s battle with his own self are what make Hawkman a worthy comic book.
Olliffe delivers bloody, sinister, and bone-crunching panels this time around, with Palmer blackening the mood with inks. Yet somehow Hawkman #17 kept up the feel of a classic comic with the four-color appeal. Each panel has an openness to it so nothing appears cramped. It can be a hard sell having a lead character fight pitch-black silhouettes but the art team does a fantastic job of it. Skipper once again makes Hawkman pop every panel and big sound effects by Starkings emphasize the hatred and hurt these two old enemies put on each other.
Hawkman #17 ends the tale of shadows and old rivalry in a brutal way. I hope the Shade returns later so the friendship he and Carter have can be deepened. However, for the time being, I’m eager for next month to see how the fallout from this issue builds upon, or tears down, Hawkman.
Hawkman #17 is available wherever comic books are sold.
Hawkman #17 ends the tale of shadows and old rivalry in a brutal way. The keyword for this climactic ending is definitely violence.
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.