“Spinning out of the events of Dark Nights: Metal” and the thirty-third best-selling comic of June 2018, at least according to “Diamond Comic Distributors”, Robert Venditti’s narrative for Issue One of “Hawkman” must have struck the majority of its 42,123 readers as a pulse-pounding trip into “Tomb Raider” territory with its arguable mix of elements ‘snatched’ from the Lara Croft motion picture franchise. However, to accuse this twenty-two page periodical’s plot of simply being a re-telling of actress Angelina Jolie’s action-adventure films ‘but with wings’, would do a tremendous disservice to a publication which is absolutely crammed with breath-taking drama, dynamic sense-shattering shenanigans and a bucket load of mysterious intrigue to boot.
To begin with it is impossibly hard to find fault with the Florida-born writer’s opening sequence, which depicts the titular character swooping down inside a small outcrop of rocks “twelve miles south of Santorini, Greece” and pillaging “the ancient ruins of the Temple of Ooahk Kung, the All-See.” Packed with all the claustrophobic excitement one might expect from an archaeologist forced to squirm his way through a tight-tunnelled entranceway, Carter Hall’s extraction of the Nautilus of Revealment from its ancient water-logged resting place is tensely told, with the ape-like guardian golem’s subsequent, perhaps unsurprising, emergence to protect the treasure proving to be one of the highlights of the magazine.
Just as enjoyable though, has to be the adventurer’s resultant chase through the Gorilla Kingdom’s sunken ruins and desperately suffocating dash towards the surface. Lung-burstingly tense, it’s easy to imagine many within this comic’s audience taking a huge gulp of air when the reincarnated Prince of Egypt finally takes to the sky, and then envisage their utter amazed shock as the gigantic three-eyed animated anthropomorphic being sprouts its own huge wings so as to continue its pursuit of the Thanagarian thief; “Too bad for you, only one of us has — wings?”
Of course none of this proficient penmanship by Venditti would account for all that much without the dynamic drawing (and part-inking) of Bryan Hitch. Hawkman has debatably never looked better than in the English penciller’s panels, with Hall’s destructive defeat of the mythic, winged primate proving as devastating a moment as it is poignant due to Carter’s clear regret at having to destroy so magnificent a creature as the Wingor with his medieval mace. In addition, the former “Marvel UK” artist’s double splash illustration of the titular character’s earlier incarnations, brim-full with more flying-minions than even Alex Raymond’s Prince Vultan could muster, is arguably well worth this comic’s cover price alone.