I’m convinced … Hawk and Dove #1 writer Sterling Gates has the gift of prophesy. After all, he’s the one who had Hawk rightfully quip, “Can’t all be winners.”
Abandon hope all ye who enter, for there be potential spoilers ahead.
I’m not sure if Hawk and Dove #1 is the worst of the New 52 so far … and, if it is, if any other might unseat it at the bottom of the ladder by the end of September. However, there’s not a lot of good things to say about this issue.
The obvious theme of the issue is balance. It’s the first word of significance written and we are constantly reminded that Hawk and Dove, like the ying and yang, are opposites that, together, create a whole. Respectively the Avatar of War and the Avatar of Peace, one cannot exist without the other. Even when Hawk’s brother Don – the original Dove – is killed, the balance must be maintained. Enter the new Dove, Dawn Granger … and Hawk (AKA Hank Hall) doesn’t stop whining about it for the whole issue.
The heroes are introduced in the middle of attempting to thwart an attack by “science terrorist” Alexander Quirk and his so-called Monsters of Mass Destruction. Depicting a terrorist trying to use a plane to attack the American capital (it’s unclear if their target is actually the Washington Monument, or if it’s Dove’s lack of piloting skills that points them in that direction) in a comic book during the week of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 just feels WRONG to me.
So, only semi-successful at saving the day (they kind of graze the monument), we see that Hawk and Dove are maybe not the most effective heroes on the block. You get the point that they are an inexperienced duo and their mismatched natures – they bicker constantly, and not in a particularly chummy way – means they have a lot of growing to do as superheroes and as a team. But they are connected and can’t operate independently, so they’re going to have to work on that.
Hawk seems to have some daddy issues and a bad case of the “good ol’ days”. Don always had his back and he doesn’t have a lot of faith in Dawn. To his dad, he recounts the day he and Don became Hawk and Dove. Don’t ask why he hasn’t told his dad this story before now … you won’t like the answer. It’s really clumsy exposition. Anyway, trapped and needing power to escape and stop an assassination attempt on their dad, they are randomly given their powers by some unnamed gods – a bit Faustian. And then we learn that Don died a hero “during the worst crisis the world’s ever known” (an obvious reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths … even when they’re cleaning up continuity DC still clutters up the place).
Meanwhile, Dawn is in a relationship with Deadman (a carryover from developments in the Brightest Day storyline that was published pre-Flashpoint). How does that even work? Apparently she can see and hear him even when he’s not possessing someone, but what about the other – physical – components of a romantic relationship?
Then the whole timeline gets really confusing. Everything in the issue up to about halfway makes you think that Dawn is relatively new on the scene and their partnership is greener than spring grass. Hank is still seemingly grieving for his brother. But then Deadman says, “You’ve been partners with this guy a couple of years …” A couple of years? As far as relaunches/reboots go, Hawk and Dove #1 really crashes and burns. It establishes that there is a fair bit of history – and baggage – to these characters, including a freakin’ Crisis (or maybe two or three). I don’t see it as a good jumping on point and I’m confused as hell about what parts of pre-FP continuity remain and what’s been rubbed out – Green Lantern is keeping most of his continuity, which obviously includes Blackest Night and maybe Brightest Day … so has Hank died and been resurrected? Was he ever Monarch/Extant? Rounding out the exposition-heavy conversation between Dawn and Deadman, it’s revealed that there’s some mysterious history between Don and Dawn that she doesn’t want Hank finding out about. Yeesh.
The issue ends with a pretty stock-standard reveal of a villain, which I presume is Kestrel.
All in all, the story isn’t good … but at least it’s better than the artwork. What can I say about Rob Liefeld that hasn’t already been said? I actually derived some guilty pleasure from Liefeld’s art on Deadpool Corps, but Hawk and Dove #1 is Liefeld back to his not-so-best. I don’t know if maybe he’s half-assing it because he’s splitting his efforts between this and The Infinite, over at Image … whatever. I find that Liefeld’s art looks kind of okay as stationary images (although his proportions are terribly out of whack), but it just don’t convey action and movement very well. If you’re reading a Liefeld comic, though, you likely know exactly what you’re getting – you’re either a fan (someone must be, right) or your expectations are pretty low.
Oh, in closing, despite Hawk’s assertion to the contrary … I still like zombies.