Writer Robert Venditti likes to call his new Hawkman series "Indiana Jones meets National Treasure," but its greatest strength is that it lies within the amazing expanse of the entire DC Universe.
That includes the entire past of the DC Universe, a past that's still mysterious after the changes of "Rebirth" and Dark Nights: Metal. Among those changes is Hawkman's own history, which reaches further back than he knew, a mystery that will help drive the series as it kicks off this week with Hawkman #1.
It also doesn't hurt that the series features art by superstar artist Bryan Hitch, who takes advantage of the dramatic camera angles necessary to depict an adventurous character with wings as he searches the ends of the universe for answers about himself and the DCU.
Newsarama talked to Venditti to find out more about the series, how Hitch's art inspires Venditti's plots, and how the writer is using Carter Hall's status as the "historian of the DCU" in Hawkman.
Newsarama: Rob, as Hawkman's getting his own series from DC, what do you think it is about the character that makes him so unique and an important part of the DCU?
Robert Venditti: He's unlike anything else. He's one of the characters that goes back to the very beginnings of the DC Universe, the beginnings of the superhero genre in general.
His background and who he is as a character is unique, but part and parcel with that is this reincarnating history which, now that we've read Metal, it goes back thousands of years farther than we even understood.
So he's uniquely positioned to be a character that holds a lot of the mysteries and makes a lot of the discoveries about the deep back-history of the DC Universe.
I like to think of him, in the story we're doing, as Indiana Jones meets National Treasure. And as Carter Hall goes on this adventure and goes to locations that only exist in the DC Universe and encounters things you can only encounter in the DC Universe, he makes discoveries about himself.
And in so doing, he makes discoveries about the DC Universe as well.
Nrama: And it looks like there are discoveries about the history of the DCU from the get-go in issue #1.
Venditti: Yeah, we open up the beginning pages of the first issue with him being somewhere that he could only be in the DC Universe, and we see a side of a culture that we've known about for a long time, but we see a side of this culture that we've never seen before.
That's what he represents. He's the archaeologist and historian of the DC Universe.
Nrama: There were some past lives revealed in Metal, including where he organized a trip into the Dark Multiverse and where he had a friendship with someone from the Wayne family. Are those part of this series? Or are you introducing him and his present life first, before you get into the nitty-gritty of his past lives?
Venditti: We are introducing him in the present, but yes, those things you mentioned are also on the horizon.
While he is a character with a deep history, we're very much interested in how that history informs who he is now and pushes him forward.
I think with a concept like this and a character like this, you can see limitless opportunities for an issue here or an issue there where we spend time in the past, and I'm not saying we won't ever do those things. But in the beginning, we really want to be pushing him forward and taking what he's learning about his past and use it to drive him forward as opposed to spending a lot of time in that past.
But his past is a huge, expansive canvas, and we are going to see a lot of things about him that we never did as readers - and things that he didn't even know about himself.
And that's really what the series is all about. It's about this character's journey and self-discovery, and him trying to find out who he really is and what his past really is, because even he has forgotten the true nature of himself.
Nrama: What other people and places of the DCU will he touch?
Venditti: Oh, there's no limit with this character, and we even have a couple places and characters in the first issue that I think will surprise people. I don't know how much I want to reveal right up front.
One fun thing that's coming up: He's going to Dinosaur Island. But I won't reveal which characters he's going to encounter when he's on Dinosaur Island. And you can imagine what that issue will look like, with Brian drawing it.
Nrama: Yeah, looking at this first issue, it's obvious you knew you had the artist to pull off some of these scenes.
Venditti: It's really a lot of fun working with Brian. He's so skilled. He's got so many arrows in his quiver that when I sit down and I write every issue, I spend a lot of time trying to come up with something that he hasn't drawn before in terms of a fight scene or a location or anything of those kinds of things.
I really try to challenge him and inspire him in the same way that his art challenges and inspires me.
So we're not holding anything back. We have a lot of surprises in store.
Just in this first issue, there's a double-page spread that has a really big reveal in it, and there's probably 50 plotlines, minimum, that you can pull off that one, single page. So we're packing a lot of content into this issue, and it's something we can draw off of for, really, forever, if we want to.
Nrama: Hawkman seems to lend himself to amazing art, with all the angles you can use to depict his flight. But because of his career as an archaeologist, you also need the art to communicate the history that's buried under the ground.
Venditti: Yeah, to me, in my very first beginnings of researching the character, it leapt out to me that he's Hawkman and he builds wings for himself and he's built for the sky, but yet he spends so much time underground. Why would he do that? Why, of all the professions he could pick, why would he be an archaeologist? That would negate this aerial superiority that he made for himself.
To me, it was just this drive, this compulsion, to explore and discover. And what he never knew until now is that that compulsion wasn't about discovering ancient artifacts or bringing back the secrets of lost culture. It's really been all about himself. All this outward exploration that he's been doing over his many, many lives has been all about inward discovery because he's missing pieces of his own past.
The gaping hole that he was trying to fill with history was inside himself.
I found that to be a very interesting dichotomy for the character and something that is really the emotional core and theme of the entire series that we're building - that outward exploration leading to discovery within.
But to what you were saying, about the artwork and the beautiful angles, Brian is so skilled at what he's able to do. He's able to take something as confined, for lack of a better word, as the single, solitary character of Hawkman himself, and the way he's able to render him in flight, and the wing strokes and the body postures and things, and how unique this Hawkman is compared to every other Hawkman we've ever seen, but then to also expand that to the entire locations and settings that the character inhabits, and you have hieroglyphics written on every little spot on the walls... it's inspiring to see.
As the art pages come in, it inspires more storytelling for me, not just in terms of writing the dialogue for that particular issue, but also where the story could go beyond that.
It's really the best possible situation that you hope for with a collaborate art form like comics, and I'm just really enjoying working with him. I feel very fortunate to do so. And I believe that enthusiasm comes across in the story.