The Year of the Villain is in full effect, but not everyone is on board with Lex Luthor and Perpetua’s vision of a world ruled by Doom. The Batman Who Laughs is lurking in the background of the DC Universe and while he’s currently under lock and key within the bowels of the Hall of Justice, his influence is still very much felt throughout Prime Earth.
Hawkman is one of the few comics that may have suffered under the “Year of the Villain” event storyline after a year of fantastic storytelling. Bryan Hitch left art duties, replaced by the also-fantastic Pat Olliffe, and he was placed in a pretty filler-feeling story where his shadow was stolen by the Shadow Thief. This forced him to confront his old enemy with the help of the returning Shade, but also brought about a new persona of Carter Hall’s past: The Sky Tyrant of Earth-3.
This book begins with a recap of The Sky Tyrant’s death at the hands of the Earth-3 versions of Cheetah, Gentleman Ghost, Shadow Thief and Matter Master. For the uninitiated, Earth-3 is another Earth where good and evil alignments are swapped, meaning Prime Earth’s heroes are villains and their villains are heroes. Pat Oliffe draws these first scenes amazingly well, showcasing Carter Hall as a scarred, grey monster of a murderer. He is ferocious and angry and puts up a hard fought fight against the heroes, but eventually gets overpowered and has his heart ripped out by Shadow Sherriff.
Thankfully, writer Robert Venditti ties this into the story he’s been telling with Hakman, having The Sky Tyrant be one of Carter’s many lives and another reason he will continue to reincarnate because of all of the murder he committed as a villain. Sky Tyrant is disgusted with Prime Earth and the time he’s spent inside of Carter’s mind and decides to try and regain his title as the most feared thing in the skies. With his spiked mace, he tries to down a plane, but the astral Carter Hall manages to stop him physically… somehow, probably through the mind since he’s in the same mindscape that all the other personalities were.
They fall to the ground and Sky Tyrant explains that the longer he is in control of the body, the farther from the light Carter is and soon The Sky Tyrant will be fully in control and Carter will never be able to escape. Oliffe’s art reminds me very much of the mid-2000s Hawkman series and it’s starkly different than Hitch’s art because of how dark and gritty it is. His hatch shading, Tom Palmer’s amazing inks and Jeremiah Skipper’s dark colors really paint this all as a very dark turn for Hawkman, especially as this seems to be his status quo for the next few months with the impending “Hell Arisen” crossover between the Legion of Doom and “The Batman Who Laughs: Infected.”
While not the best issue of this Hawkman run, this "Infected" tie-in was still pretty good. Contrasting the exploration-centered story of Carter Hall and his journey to right all of his past wrongs to focus on the evil and murderous Sky Tyrant is a bit of a change. Carter has spent so long obsessing over his past as a Deathbringer and managed to overcome his own god and evil former best friend. Seeing his body overtaken by another evil version of himself is something that just won’t stand and I am kinda on board for it. This book is definitely worth a read, especially if you want to keep up with all of the overarching story of The Batman Who Laughs.
Hawkman #18: Beware the Sky Tyrant
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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