New 52 Review: The Savage Hawkman #1

Hawkman has long been the poster boy for convoluted continuity that makes his titles hard to understand, so if the New 52 initiative was going to benefit anybody, it would be Carter Hall.  Once a savage warrior who had been reincarnated over and over again over thousands of years alongside his destined lover and who also had been metaphysically merged with an alien version of him with an eerily similar name whose father had visited Earth and known him in an earlier time and whose red-headed mate also had a similar name to his red-headed mate, this relaunch seems to be just deleting everything in this sentence that came after the word ‘warrior.’  Carter Hall was once The Savage Hawkman, and he doesn’t want to be anymore.

Before you ask, there’s no sign of Hawkgirl (or Hawkwoman, for that matter), but given DC’s track record lately, we should probably be glad for that, since she’d likely just be a stripper.  Seriously, Red Hood & The Outlaws, Catwoman and now Voodoo are likely three damn strikes for most people, guys. 

Regardless, The Savage Hawkman #1 is a fairly cool restart, boiling him down to the basics of being a brutal brawler.  In fact, it’s so cool that it occasionally threatens to be “cool” – meaning that it might be trying too hard to get that ‘awesome, dude!’ reaction that particularly jagged renderings of feral Wolverine tend to get.  He’s even got a gauntlet with Wolverine claws on it. For the longest time, Hawkman’s weapon of choice was a big-ass mace.  Here, he’s wielding something that looks like a combination of a mace and an ax.  It’s as if they looked at it and said ‘how do we make a mace more bitchin’?’  ‘Dude, make it half-ax!’  AX-MACE!  For kids!

But I digress.  The story is that Carter Hall is trying to bury the Hawk helmet and wing-harness in the woods and burn it and be done with it forever.  Turns out that Nth Metal isn’t just some funky anti-gravity stuff like it was back in John Ostrander’s Hawkworld (a series I miss that will never come back because it involves the aforementioned alien Hawkman Katar Hol, who is apparently not the marketable one), but it’s also possessed of a mystical fiery hawk avatar (not unlike the one who showed up in those Post-Crisis Hawkbooks to start really confusing things, but let’s not re-complicate Hawkman again) that drags him back and merges with him.  The cool thing about this is that Carter Hall doesn’t need to go put on his hawk-gear now – the armor and wings and helmet just grow out of his skin now.  Handy, that. 

Turns out that little situation shift comes in handy when he goes back to his day job as a cryptologist, when some kind of alien goo-demons show up and start killing people.  Hawkman emerges, kicks a little bit of ass, and then immediately gets owned by some black-tar monster named Morphicius, which is a name that hurts to look at, much less pronounce. 

Tony S. Daniel has certainly simplified Hawkman in this first issue, but with that comes the concern that it might be oversimplified, although that’ll take a few more issues to truly assess.  That said, Hawkman fighting evil monsters is still pretty cool.  Philip Tan renders a pretty kickass Hawkman, scary-looking goo-monsters and a particularly creepy looking Morphicius in full bloom on the last page.  His human faces seem vague and indistinct, but when it comes to the money shots, Tan’s… well, on the money.

There’s not a lot new or unique going on in The Savage Hawkman #1, but the mystery of just what the deal with Nth Metal is going to turn out to be should prove fertile ground for subsequent issues.  If you like the look of this severe, pointy-armored hardass enough to want to see him beat things up, you’ll likely be satisfied with this series.  For others, we may have to give it another issue or two to let us further inside of the head of Carter Hall to figure out why we should find him interesting.



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