REVIEW: ‘Hawkman,’ Issue #23

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hawkman #23

Hawkman #23 is written by Robert Venditti, with pencils by Marcio Takara and Fernando Pasarin, inks by Marcio Takara and Oclair Albert, colors by Jeromy Cox, and letters provided by Rob Leigh. This series is published monthly by DC Comics. Due to the global quarantine caused by COVID-19, Hawkman, and comic books in general, went on hold. Now, the series is back on track with a mostly standalone story that hits close to current events. The last issue left off with Hawkwoman’s continual battle to get the mind of Sky Tyrant out of Carter Hall’s body. In that conflict, things took a violent turn into an unexpected time and place.

Seville, Spain is the place and the specific year is 1650.  Having been rendered unconscious after both of their Nth metal maces collided, the Hawks have drifted into yesteryear. Down the silent streets of Seville walks Dr. Carlos Salon, plague doctor. Yes, this is yet another of Carter’s past lives revealed. The famous mask of the plague doctor bears the unmistakable Hawkman beak form. Carlos arrives in the city to help the wife of Don Alvaro who is a victim of the plague. But Alvaro has had enough of the plague, and of plague doctors offering help that proves fruitless. 

But Carlos is on a mission. He is determined to cure the sick and dying. However, things do not go as he hoped and the fallout is violent. This is to be expected from superhero comics, the plot divulging into a fight, but things are more complicated than a mere set of splash pages. This issue keeps the flashback grounded in the history of the times, with its paranoia, frayed nerves, and loss of hope. Carlo is but a player caught up in the same theatrics as those he seeks to heal, making this a very different Hawkman story.  It’s a breath of fresh air seeing the hero as human and an eerie read considering the present climate. 

Hawkman #23

Certainly, Venditti did not know about COVID-19 when he penned this issue many months ago. He drafted yet another capable Hawkman tale while peeling back another layer of the character’s lineage. Very few characters in comics possess Hawkman’s lengthy, twisted incarnations. Adding another life might seem to add to this confusion. Rather, it helps to pinpoint a time when Carter was merely human caught up in the swirl of a tragedy. It also feeds back into his relationship with Shayera, creating more of a cyclical tale. Venditti is making Hawkman and Hawkwoman two of the most compelling characters in the superhero genre.

This issue sees Pasarin doing the present day penciling duties. Takara, in his first stint on Hawkman, tackles the Seville storyline. His artistry fits the era. The style is more natural, flowing, darker, lacking in traditional genre tropes like speed lines or overdeveloped musculature. He and Albert let the inks sink deep into those pages, creating a macabre view, panel after panel, making even panels of walking down a street or hallway appear ominous. It’s one excellent way in which the art can shape the story and the mood of the reader. 

Cox keeps the colors muted around the plethora of black. This aids the inkwork in standing out but also lets brighter colors, when they do appear, pop. Leigh keeps the lettering simple, except for the detail on the issue’s title, ‘Miasma of Fear’, done in an older font that catches the eye.

Hawkman #23 is such a joy to read. The timing and pacing of every issue of this series are a standout and the heroes and villains alike are nuanced. Carter’s journey is far from over. He and Shayera have innumerable adventures that can be penned. Hopefully, this series goes on to record many of them, if not all. 

Hawkman #23 is available wherever comic books are sold, and from our Comixology online affiliate link.


Hawkman #23
5

TL;DR

Hawkman #23 is such a joy to read. The timing and pacing of every issue of this series are a standout and the heroes and villains alike are nuanced. Carter’s journey is far from over. He and Shayera have innumerable adventures that can be penned. Hopefully, this series goes on to record many of them, if not all.