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The Savage Hawkman #1 by Ammar Al Subahi

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tony Salvador Daniel
Artist: Philip Tan
Colorist: Sunny Gho

Overall: 2/5 Stars

Premise: As Carter Hall, a.k.a. Hawkman, decides to call it quits, a mysterious alien ship is found.

Carter Hall is fed up with being Hawkman, so he drives up somewhere deep into the woods, digs up a hole in the ground and puts his costume into the hole, covers it with lighter fluid, then lights it up. No more Hawkman.

Except the costume somehow turns alive, and returns from the grave like a roaring phoenix bird and consumes Carter in flames. No more Hawkman? More like no more Carter Hall.

Meanwhile, a scientific expedition has uncovered a centuries old alien ship off the Bermuda coast. The chief scientist sends out the word to retrieve Carter Hall, leading cryptologist, to help them decode the symbols on the ship. Too bad Carter's dead, right?

Or not, as we find ourselves back at Carter's place, with him being just as surprised over being alive as we are. A week has passed, and a colleague from work conveniently comes by to pick him up to work on the new alien ship they've discovered. Carter goes along, and soon we find ourselves in a big lab where they've moved the alien ship. And as always when dealing with alien stuff, things go bad. Terribly bad.

I'm just going to be frank here: this is the lamest #1 DCnU issue I've read so far. We get no insight into Carter's mind in neither in his civilian identity nor his superhero identity. All we get is that Carter is tired of being Hawkman. Why? Beats me. There are no implications of any backstory leading up to this event or anything like that. Instead, the majority of the issue focuses on this new mysterious alien ship, and the threat that appears along with it. Reading this issue, I felt so detached to both our main character and his shallow supporting cast: who are these people, and why should I even care?

Contrast this issue with Aquaman #1, which also wasn't an origin book, but at least gave us a sense of who our main character is. In that book, the majority of the time is spent on connecting the reader with the character: Aquaman is an underappreciated superhero who keeps struggling out of a sense of responsibility, it was almost beautifully conveyed. The looming threat from the sea was kept in the background. In this issue, however, we get all plot (a very thin one, to that) and no characterisation.

And if you can't engage us through the character, then at least hook us with a good concept. Grifter #1 did that. Even though we didn't get a good grip on Grifter's character, at the very least we got a good sense about the direction of the book and what to expect: a man singlehandedly fighting off a secret alien invasion. This? Not only don't we know who the hell Hawkman is, we don't really know what to expect from this book: is this a mythological book, a la Wonder Woman? Sci-fi? Psychological thriller? How do you classify this book? DC made a big mistake here by not making Hawkman viable for new readers. He's NOT a big enough name for this book to be able to stand on its own without a proper introduction (unlike Captain America, for instance).

The art's solid, though. It actually resembles Daniel's art on Detective Comics: bleak and moody, but with a more painted quality to it. Somewhat stronger colors, too. But good art cannot salvage an extremely thin story.

I knew nothing about Hawkman before, and this issue made me none the wiser.