Hawkman #20 is written by Robert Venditti, illustrated by Fernando Pasarin, inked by Oclair Albert and Danny Miki, with Jeremy Cox as colorist and letters provided by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. After getting knocked around by Hawkwoman last issue, the Sky Tyrant fled in Hawkman’s Soarship for parts unknown. Not only does he have Carter Hall’s body and vessel, but he also knows about the Black Journal, and he intends to put it to bad use.
In one of his near-infinite number of past lives, Carter Hall wrote the Black Journal. Hawkman peels back a layer on another past life, and this issue is no different. Katarthul, rocket-powered Hawkman of Rann, regretfully wrote the Journal and perished. It’s one of the pleasures of reading this series. Sky Tyrant has seemed to be too cunning and hearty to stop. He is in Carter’s body thanks to the venom from the Batman Who Laughs. Unlike Hawkman, Sky Tyrant delights in snuffing out lives by the billions. His thirst is apparently never satisfied.
Hence, the Journal. It details the location of a hidden key Sky Tyrant believes will offer him immortality, an eternity to kill even more people. Carter, left as a figment in his own body, can only argue with the Tyrant, try in vain to reason with him. This interplay makes the ‘Infected’ story arc of Hawkman compelling reading. The calm, guilt-ridden Carter clashing against the thoughtless sarcasm of the Sky Tyrant is a wonderful battle of wills. There is a nuanced back-and-forth game of dominance on display here.
It becomes, briefly, a war of three sides this issue. The Batman Who Laughs makes a guest appearance to taunt Carter. He reveals his plan had been to corrupt Hawkman, but even he was surprised by the outcome of Sky Tyrant’s arrival. This added another layer, which made the ‘Infected’ arc more of an enjoyable read than merely having the hero just become evil and two dimensional. This is a version of himself Carter has to contend with whether he likes it or not, and it is intent on reversing all of his hard work.
Robert Venditti moves Carter Hall into this storyline as if it had been planned all along. It doesn’t read as a byproduct of DC’s huge crossover event. Sure, it involved preplanning, but considering the lives of Hawkman, this tale could have been written without ‘Infected’. It not only fleshes out the many lifetimes of Carter Hall, but it also puts a serious crease in the ages of trying to right the wrongs made by Carter’s first life as the Deathbringer.
The artwork complements the writing expertly. This series has had two artists before, both giving a different take on the look and feel of Hawkman. Bryan Hitch offered incredible background detail. Pat Olliffe gave readers a more grainy, gritty appeal on his run. Now Fernando Pasarin brings in a lush, graphically detailed art style that harkens back to Hitch, and it is very appealing. Oclair Albert and Danny Miki as inkers really bring a gothic look to the Batman Who Laughs/Sky Tyrant/Carter panels. Everything on the artistic aspect of this issue is incredible from one panel to the next.
Hawkman does not cease to impress. It keeps a tight, character-driven story that moves at a steady pace month after month. Carter Hall has always been a great character, but he has never been more dissected than he has in this series. The Batman Who Laughs has inadvertently brought about an epic journey and intense reading for Hawkman.
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Hawkman does not cease to impress. It keeps a tight, character-driven story that moves at a steady pace month after month. Carter Hall has always been a great character, but he has never been more dissected than he has in this series.
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.