Hawkman and Hawkwoman are in trouble. With no more reincarnations left for either of them, now probably isn't the time for Carter to be sporting a mortal wound...
Anton Hestor, a.k.a. Hath-Set, believes he's at last won his eternal battle against the Hawks. And that certainly SEEMS to be the case... but where Carter and Shierra Hall are concerned, nothing should ever be taken for granted!
Hawkman #29 brings the eponymous lead’s latest title, and author Robert Venditti’s run for the ages to a close. Venditti set out to rip Carter Hall’s history wide open to new possibilities, expounding upon the classic “Return of Hawkman” story from Geoff Johns’ immortal JSA run by adding the idea that not only have the Hawks been reincarnating throughout time, but throughout space as well. With superstar artist Bryan Hitch in tow, this book became DC’s surprise breakout hit of 2018, and frankly, there wasn’t enough praise that could be heaped upon it.
Then, Hitch left after twelve issues, the narrative was hijacked by “Year of the Villain,” and the art took a severe decline in quality. Venditti did the best he could, but it was obvious that for all his talent, he was being stymied by forces beyond his control. Heat and sales on the book dwindled, and Hawkman seemed destined for his umpteenth cancellation.
But then a strange thing happened: when no one (or at least far fewer) was looking, Fernando Pasarin took over the art duties, and the narrative snapped back into focus in a major way. Suddenly, things started looking like they were barreling toward a definite conclusion in the third act of Venditti’s story. The book got really good again, focusing specifically on the very idea of the Hawks’ multiple reincarnations – and what happens when they suddenly find themselves without that safety net. Unfortunately, glowing reviews couldn’t save Hawkman from getting the axe amid DC’s major behind-the-scenes reorganization. Venditti has maintained in interviews that his run is ending exactly where he’d always planned it, but the timing is suspect at best. Of course, Hawkman and undue cancellation historically go hand-in-hand, but still – the poor guy just can’t catch a break and take his rightful place among the DC pantheon of perpetually-published heroes.
“Final Justice” concludes the series with the Hawks faced with the ultimate prospect of living without reincarnation as a backstop. It wrangles their oldest foe Hath-Set into the mix, along with some funtime zombies and impalement via mystical dagger – in other words, all of the elements needed for a good old-fashioned Hawkman throwdown. Defeat seems imminent, as is fitting for a final issue. Anyone assuming the Hawks won’t prevail probably hasn’t read very many comics, but the how of it is pretty entertaining in its own right. It involves a trainwreck, those zombies, and Hawkwoman saving the day in about the most badass way possible. This woman is nobody’s sidekick. Artists Fernando Pasarin and Oclair Albert wring every bit of awesome possible out of it, particularly when it comes to bursting panels open to give the Hawks flight. Jeromy Cox’s bold and dynamic coloring ties the whole thing together, making this one of the sharpest-looking books on the rack. Too often, established artists get cold feet when it comes to drawing the final issue of a cancelled book; this trio makes no such shortcuts and gives Hawkman the visual execution it deserves.
The closing sequence is a somber yet uplifting affair, giving the Hawks’ story proper closure, operating under as though no other Hawkman comics would ever be published. It’s a wonderfully poetic affair, celebrating love, contentedness, and lives well-lived. It also celebrates the embracing of life in the face of the certainty of death, which is Hawkman‘s ultimate lesson. Hawkman will fly again someday, of course. But any future creative team will be hard-pressed to bring Robert Venditti’s passion, vision, and conviction – as well as pure thrill – to their run. Good luck to them, whoever they may wind up being – they’ll have huge shoes to fill.
Hawkman #29 brings the current volume to a close, soaring to heights many thought impossible. It may feel like a premature conclusion in light of the book's sad cancellation, but the closure brought is very real - and will be hard for any future creative team to top.
Hawkman #29: Lives Well-Lived
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10