Review: HAWKMAN - FOUND #1 Adds 'An Exciting Atmosphere of the Unknown' (7/10)

Hawkman Found
Credit: Bryan Hitch/Kevin Nowlan/Alex Sinclair/Jeremiah Skipper (DC Comics)
Credit: DC Comics

Hawkman: Found #1
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Bryan Hitch, Kevin Nowlan, Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Credit: Bryan Hitch/Kevin Nowlan/Alex Sinclair/Jeremiah Skipper (DC Comics)

Hawkman: Found #1 has three items on its list of things to accomplish in 25 pages. It needs to capitalize on and add context to the last page reveal of last week’s Dark Knights: Metal #4, it needs to provide a thematic connection to November’s Batman Lost, and it needs to build interest in Hawkman. Its success in these ventures varies, but writer Jeff Lemire presents an interesting and well-paced story that’s filled with suspense and plays on reader emotions to connect with a protagonist that has two lines of dialogue in the entire issue. While the most memorable panels tend to be the result of abrupt color switches by Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper, penciler Bryan Hitch and inker Kevin Nowlan deliver strong, detail-driven art throughout the issue.

Every night, Carter Hall dreams that he is Hawkman, before his muscles atrophy, his wings shed, and he crashes back to the surface. Hundreds of hawk insignias are engraved into the wall of the cave, where he wakes up in a chilling and quiet sequence that takes on greater significance when the issue concludes. As he leaves his cave, Carter sees what are presumably his past incarnations beset upon by hordes of Manhawks. The action sequence that follows shows Hall defeating several of his foes before leaping onto their ship. Hitch and Nowlan are at their best in these sequences as the many ridges of Hall’s muscular frame show Hitch in particular as a strong anatomical artist. How Hall gets from the external of the ship to the hull is confusingly portrayed and leaves the scene feeling disjointed as the comic transitions into it's narratively more interesting scenes.

Credit: Bryan Hitch/Kevin Nowlan/Alex Sinclair/Jeremiah Skipper (DC Comics)

Gazing at the various weapons that line the ship’s walls, Hall remembers that he is Hawkman. The fight scene that follows with Hawkman facing off against what is either his inner darkness or Barbatos in the form of a larger, more well-equipped Hawkman frequently cuts to the best art of the issue. The mostly blue ship interior panels make the molten oranges and reds of the interrupting cosmic scenes pop more than they would otherwise, and draw reader’s eyes to them as scenes of importance. While those panels don’t contain the action of the comic book, they do reinforce a notion that litters Lemire’s narration throughout the issue. The Multiverse is impossibly big, and most of it is unknown and strange.

Credit: Bryan Hitch/Kevin Nowlan/Alex Sinclair/Jeremiah Skipper (DC Comics)

The scene where Hawkman pulverizes his doppelganger is followed by him looting his wings and taking flight. Having just seen not only the fight but also the amnesiac Hall regaining his memories as he soars into the light, it’s easy to forget the false hope gut-punch of this comic’s thematic cousin, Batman Lost. When Hall soars against the sun in a panel with a striking use of lens flare, there’s a crushing defeat in seeing the narration “Each night I dream I am a bird” return to the page. Readers know what is happening as he plummets back. This sequence evokes sadness more than fear, and is an emotional peak in the comic book, so it’s unfortunate that the final scene is a splash of the monstrous Hawkman from Metal #4. The odds of a reader picking this book up without having read the core event are minute. It’s a cool piece of art, but it doesn’t serve much of a function in the context of the story. We know what Hawkman has become, so inserting that image into the end robs the story of what is going on in Hawkman’s mind of a lot of power.

Ultimately, Hawkman: Found #1 isn’t essential reading, and that’s a shame. Lemire is capable of delivering interesting and fun stories, and while this book is both of those, it’s hindered somewhat by the constraints of being one of the least important Metal tie-ins from the perspective of the overall event narrative. Readers already know that Carter Hall went missing before the event started and that he returned in a monstrous and corrupted form, so the comic book feels less like something that’s been filling in the blanks and more like its adding color to a picture readers have already seen. Completionists and Hawkman fanatics will find a lot to enjoy, as Lemire created an exciting atmosphere of the unknown throughout the one-shot, all the while mirroring the cyclical nature of the excellent Batman Lost. This book’s conclusion might not be as traumatic as its sister one-shot’s final moments, but strong writing as Hall attempts to fly beyond his prison will no doubt tug at the heartstrings, even as gravity drags him back down to the darkness.

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