Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch have been absolutely killing it on Hawkman. I always expect good work from both Venditti and Hitch given their obvious talents. However, trying to re-introduce Hawkman and clean up his ridiculously messy continuity is a task that I thought would be too impossible for any creative team.
Well, Venditti has proven to me that he is an absolute miracle worker as he has done the impossible in successfully reintroducing Hawkman and making sense of his fractured and messy continuity. Hawkman is easily one of the best super hero titles on the market. I have no doubt at all that Venditti is going to turn in yet another well crafted issue. Let’s hit this review for Hawkman #5 and find out!
Words: Robert Venditti
Pencils: Bryan Hitch
Inks: Andrew Currie and Bryan Hitch
Colors: Jeremiah Shipper
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin in the Microverse. We see Carter Hall and Ray Palmer hugging each other. The old friends are happy to see each other. (Love this single page splash shot. Love it.) Carter shows Ray an artifact disk that he got on Thanagar. The disk brought him to the Microverse. Ray looks at the disk and says it has similar tech to his size-changing belt.
Carter asks where he has been transported. Ray explains that Carter is in the Microverse. That the Microverse is the foundation of all reality. Carter then explains to Ray that he has been chasing down clues about his past lives. And he has discovered something called the Deathbringers who are going to carve a path of destruction through everywhere that Carter has lived.
Carter tells Ray that there is a glyph on the back of the artifact. Carter asks if it might be a planetary map. Ray responds that it is not a map. Ray says that they should not talk about it here. That if Ray’s scanner’s detected Carter’s appearance in the Microverse then so may have someone else. Ray says that they need to go back to his lab where they will be safe. Ray tells Carter to follow him and that the walk will not take that long. Carter asks why walk?
We see Carter in his Hawkman outfit with the Atom on his shoulder as they streak through the sky. Carter thinks, “Hawkman and the Atom. Together Again.” (Fuck. Yes. This is awesome!!!)
Hawkman and Atom arrive at the Atom’s lab. Ray calls his lab the Nucleus. That his lab is in the center of the Microverse. This is where the Atom watches for any threats. Atom says that a threat to the Microverse is a threat to all of space-time.
Hawkman asks if Atom remembers when things used to be simple. Hawkman says that they are both way past crooks and bank robbers. Hawkman explains how he has learned that he has been reincarnated many times not just across time, but across time and space. Ray say that Carter is speaking Ray’s love language.
Hawkman reveals that in his prior lives he was a Ranian, a Kryptonian, and a lot of others. Carter says that he is struggling to keep all of his memories from past lives straight. Carter said that in his prior lives he left himself clues about the Deathbringers. Carter says that he has been slipping through time meeting his past selves. Carter says that he does not know what any of this means.
Ray says that at some point Carter reincarnated inside the Microverse. The disk that Carter brought with him is local tech. It allows travel between the Microverse and the Macroverse. Ray says that this tech was banned a long time ago.
Carter asks Ray for his help in trying to figure everything out. Ray says that there is something called the River Theory of time. That time flows in one constant direction from past to present to future. However, there is another theory that time is an ocean stretching in all directions and each moment is floating on the surface. Past, present, and future always exist together. Somehow Carter has been skipping across the surface of time’s ocean reuniting with his other selves.
Ray says that maybe each time Carter is reincarnated he leaves a piece of his consciousness behind. That could explain why he remembers less and less with each life. Ray say that maybe when Carter finds a clue it triggers something that connects Carter to a fragment of his missing consciousness.
Ray says that dying in Europe and being reincarnated in Japan is really no different from dying on earth and going to Thanagar. Ray says that Carter may not have even done it in chronological order. As a matter of physics, time is time and space is space.
Carter says that this is all too much to handle. Ray says that he understands that Carter is confused and scared. Ray says that Carter has the fortitude that Ray could only dream of. Ray says that Carter is the best at untangling the mysteries of the past. Carter asks how can he untangle what he cannot remember.
Ray says that Carter can achieve this by doing what he has been doing: following clues. Ray says that Carter won’t find a prior self in the Microverse. That time did not bring him here. That the disk brought him here.
Ray says that the glyph on the disk is not the Earth’s sun surrounded by the nine planets. Ray tells Carter to think. That Carter knows what it is. Carter suddenly says that the glyph is the sub-atomic structure of Nth Metal.
Ray says that he thinks that Carter must have had a secret stash of Nth Metal here in the Microverse. Carter says that it could be a weapon to help stop the Deathbringers. Ray begins scanning the Microverse for any Nth Metal. Ray locates the stash of Nth Metal. Ray is not thrilled about the location of the Nth Metal.
Ray tells Carter that they are going to have to go to the most dangerous planet in the Microverse: Moz-Ga.
We cut to the Atom and Hawkman arriving at Moz-Ga. Our heroes walk around the surface of the planet. The entire planet looks dead and barren. Atom explains that Moz-Ga is a sentient planet possessed by the spirit of a dead wizard. The planet used to be lush looking. Pilgrims began coming from all over the Microverse. The pilgrims prayed for blessings and gifts. But, Moz-Ga remained silent.
However, recently, the god spoke back to the pilgrims. Once that happened, then more pilgrims started arriving. Billions of pilgrims. Moz-Ga became so fed up with their requests that he made himself an unlivable wasteland so everyone would leave him alone. Atom says that Moz-Ga does not like trespassers.
Suddenly, Moz-Ga calls Hawkman and Atom “pilgrims” and says that there is nothing here for them. Moz-Ga tells them to leave or face his wraith. Suddenly, the dead trees sprout arms and legs and attack Hawkman and Atom.
Hawkman takes to the sky. Hawkman tells Atom to get out of here. Hawkman summons his Nth metal mace and smashes the ground. The mace makes a massive explosion that creates a huge crater in the ground and takes out all fo the tree monsters. (Damn! That is a power upgrade!)
Atom says that Hawkman should not have done that. Hawkman says that it was Moz-Ga who attacked them. Moz-Ga says that Hawkman was foolish enough to strike him. That he is a wizard. He is a world. That he is Moz-Ga. Suddenly, the ground shakes massive stone creates rise up from the ground.
Hawkman says that he is not leaving here without the Nth metal. Atom says that he figured Hawkman would say that. Hawkman tells Atom to shrink down and that he will be safe. Atom replies that he forgot to mention something to Hawkman.
The camera pans back and we see the Atom growing into giant-sized Atom. Atom says that he can apply his science a little differently in the Microverse. (Damn! Get it, Ray!)
Atom asks, “What do you think, big guy?” Hawkman smiles and says, “It’s really great to see you, Ray.” Hawkman and the Atom then begin brawling with Moz-Ga’s giant rock creatures. End of issue.
The Good: Damn, Venditti is a ball of fire and just keeps killing it with each issue of Hawkman. Hawkman #5 is an absolute blast to read. I loved every single panel of this issue. Venditti is able to summon that classic DC Silver Age vibe dealing with two classic Gardner Fox characters and deliver it in a fresh modern fashion. You cannot ask for more than that in a super hero comic!
Let’s cut to the chase. Hawkman #5 is all about one of the greatest Silver Age buddy teams in the DCU: Hawkman and Atom. In 1968, the Atom’s solo title and Hawkman’s solo title were merged into one title called Atom and Hawkman. Ray Palmer and Carter Hall have always been close friends much like fellow Silver Age Justice Leaguers in Hal Jordan and Ollie Queen. I view the Hawkman and Atom buddy team in very high regard. Needless to say, Venditti does Gardner Fox proud with the way that he handles this classic buddy team in Hawkman #5.
I love Carter Hall and I equally love Ray Palmer. So, seeing these two character back together and better than ever was absolutely fantastic. It just feels right. Once Hawkman got his new title and we were promised a “rebirth” of sorts for Hawkman’s character the first thing I started wondering was when Ray Palmer would appear on this title. I figured that there was no way Venditti could re-introduce Hawkman’s character without bringing Ray into the story.
Well, Hawkman #5 finally delivers on what I had been expecting. Ray Palmer is a fantastic character who has always been criminally underused by DC Comics. Poor Ray has gotten the short end of the stick from DC’s editorial staff ever since Identity Crisis. Things began to go south for Ray’s character when DC tried to roll out Ryan Choi as the new Atom. Ryan never caught on with anyone and failed to live up to Ray Palmer’s standards.
Then things hit an all-time low for Ray as the New 52 reboot occurred and Ray Palmer as the Atom and as a long-time member of the Justice League was wiped away from DC’s continuity. Instead, poor Ray was reduced to some random minor character serving as a science advisor for S.H.A.D.E.
Luckily, as DC rolled out DC Universe Rebirth #1 and fully admitted their mistakes with the New 52, we were once again given the classic Gardner Fox Ray Palmer as the Atom. Venditti continues to build off Rebirth’s return of Ray Palmer.
Venditti displays an excellent feel for Ray’s character that is as impressive as Venditti’s feel for Carter’s character. Venditti understands what makes Ray such a fantastic and irreplaceable character in the DCU. Venditti also understands the dynamic that exists between Hawkman and Atom. This reunion of this long-time buddy team felt so organic and genuine. It was simply amazing to see Carter and Ray back together again.
Venditti delivers some incredible character work with Carter and Ray. Both characters are well fleshed out with their distinct personalities. Venditti is able to generate some genuine chemistry between the two characters and in a natural way. As the story progresses, the chemistry between these two characters becomes more and more evident to the reader.
The dialogue in Hawkman #5 is also well done. Venditti is able to cook up a nice natural flow to the conversation between Ray and Carter that helps to make it seem so realistic. The two characters come across as long-time friends with an organic ebb and flow to their conversation. Venditti also gives both characters unique and well-defined external voices.
Hawkman #5 is a well plotted and paced issue. Venditti is a technically sound writer and this issue is not different. Venditti is pulling off a masterful job plotting Hawkman. The story on this title is detailed and meticulously crafted. Venditti is tackling Hawkman’s unwieldy and messy continuity and has forged it into a cohesive and logical story. It is beyond impressive.
This issue moves forward with a clear purpose in mind. Venditti never gets lost or allows the story to meander. Everything in this story is sliding together in a pleasant and logical fashion.
I loved the opening five-page scene. This was such a touching moment seeing Carter and Ray reuniting. This is one of those scenes that reminds you how amazing DC Comics is when they embrace their roots and their core characters. Marvel has some great characters and some incredible stories, but when it comes to pedigree and history DC still has Marvel beat.
Venditti does a wonderful job making the reunion of Hawkman and Atom a scene that can be equally enjoyed by long-time reader and newer readers alike. Long-time readers are going to love this scene. Venditti honors these two characters and their long-standing friendship with great respect. It is clear that Venditti likes these characters and has a good grasp of their relationship with each other.
At the same time, Venditti understands that many readers reading this issue are not at all familiar with Ray Palmer or the long-standing buddy team that is Atom and Hawkman. Therefore, Venditti makes this opening scene new reader friendly. Everything that a reader needs to know in order to understand this scene and appreciate the momentous occasion of this reunion is given to the reader in this scene. Venditti manages to make this reunion impactful to long-time readers while still accessible and interesting to newer readers.
This opening scene was an emotional scene that definitely tugged at my heart and made me smile. Seeing the two men embracing each other conveyed the genuine joy and love that these two old friends have for each other. Of course, the best part was the incredible splash shot with the Hawkman in his costume and flying through the air with the Atom on his shoulder. This harkens back to the 1960’s as these two characters strike their iconic poses with each other. This was a “Awwww yeah!” moment for the reader.
Next was an excellent six page scene back at Ray’s lab. I dig Venditti’s take on the Microverse and Ray’s role within it. The Nucleus is a cool concept and makes for an awesome headquarters for the Atom. This is an excellent example of Venditti taking a classic character and giving them a slight refresh for the new DCU. The Nucleus is the kind of headquarters that would make for a wonderful setting for an Atom solo title. Make it happen, DC!
Venditti also performs some serious plot progression in this six page scene as he continues to flesh out Hawkman’s new continuity. Venditti uses Ray as a literary tool to give the reader more information in order to explain Hawkman’s past lives and how he is slipping through time. Venditti constructs a clear and intelligent explanation of Hawkman’s past being like an ocean that extends across all time and space. This is an effective explanation that also possess nice internal logic and makes sense.
I like the concept of Hawkman’s past lives existing across the surface of time-space. It is fascinating and complex but, at the same time, it makes perfect sense. The way that Venditti explains how Carter’s past lives from so many different planes and points in time makes sense and is soundly constructed.
I am glad that Venditti is committed to hammering out all of the little details in giving a clear shape and order to Hawkman’s messy continuity. With each issue, Venditti is able to further consolidate and forge a more cohesive and logical continuity for Hawkman without ever getting rid of any of Carter’s illustrious history. Seriously, Venditti’s work melding Hawkman’s continuity into one coherent continuity is impressive.
We then get the final eleven page scene that delivered the only action in this issue and also a fantastic hook ending. Venditti certainly ends the issue on a high note. Hawkman #5 is a character driven issue, but Venditti keeps things lively with some cool action at the end of the issue. We got an “Oh, shit!” moment and an “Awww, yeah!” moment in this final scene, too.
The “Oh, shit!” moment was when Hawkman unleashed the fury of his Nth metal mace as if he was Thor slamming down Mjolnir. Wow. Talk about a serious power upgrade. This was such a badass moment. I dig that Hawkman is getting transformed into a heavy hitter within the DCU.
The “Awww, yeah!” moment was when the Atom unveiled his ability to grow to giant size. That was such a fantastic moment. Then ending the issue with our two heroes tearing into Moz-Ga’s stone giants was awesome. Venditti has already given us the reunion of two old friends in Ray and Carter.
However, we had not yet seen the reunion of the Atom and Hawkman back together and fighting bad guys. Venditti wisely held off showing the reader this climactic moment until the final page of the issue. This made it that much more satisfying when we finally got to see Atom and Hawkman in action together once again.
Moz-Ga is a cool concept that performs double duty as both a character and a setting. Moz-Ga is a daunting villain and provides a stiff test for our heroes. This living planet also provides for a great setting for this epic showdown. There is no doubt that Moz-Ga has that crazy Silver Age vibe to his character.
Bryan Hitch delivers some stunning artwork in Hawkman #5. The reader gets treated to numerous phenomenal single and double page splash shots. Hitch’s dramatic splash shots make this issue feel cinematic and epic. Hitch makes the Atom’s surprise of being able to grow to giant size a stunning moment. Hitch also brings the Nucleus to life in a cool fashion.
However, Hitch was not just about the dramatic splash shots. Hitch also does a great job with the smaller moments. Hitch handles the dialogue heavy scenes well and injects those moments with plenty of emotion.
The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.
Overall: Hawkman #5 is another excellent read. I am so impressed with what Venditti and Hitch have done with this title. Hawkman is easily one of DC’s best titles. Venditti deserves a trophy for being able to take a character whose continuity is a total dumpster fire and turn it into something coherent, cohesive and compelling.
If you enjoy mainstream super hero comics then you must give Hawkman a try. Hawkman presents the reader with classic super hero themes wrapped up in intelligent writing and kick ass action.