Carter Hall has been many things across all his lives.
He’s been a knight in shining armor and a rugged gunslinger.
He’s been an Egyptian pharaoh and an alien warrior.
Currently he’s an archaeologist and tomb raider. The one constant is that he’s always sought adventure and answers from the past. Now, that search for meaning has become more literal than ever.
Carter Hall’s latest expedition has taken him into the heart of the lost temple of Ooahk Kong – an outpost built by a sea-faring clan of the super-intelligent apes of Gorilla City, who once turned to piracy. He seeks an ancient artifact it is said can pierce the veils of the mind and reveal a person’s past.
Legend has it the artifact was used to question spies and thieves, yet Carter Hall hopes he can use it to restore the memories of his past reincarnations. To that end he has also sought the aid of the mystic Madame Xanadu – a true sorceress, who can truly tap the artifact’s unique properties if the legends of its powers are true.
Yet even if Xanadu’s magic can awaken the so-called Nautlius of Revealment, will Carter Hall find the answers he seeks? Or will those answers only lead to further questions?
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Hawkman has one of the most convoluted backstories of any superhero in American comics. Retcons managed to fix things somewhat, only for later retcons to complicate things again. Things seem to have stabilized once again, with Dark Nights Metal seemingly reestablishing the idea first proposed by Geoff Johns and David Goyer that every hawk-themed hero in DC Comics’ history was a reincarnation of Carter Hall, including the Thanagarian warrior Katar Hol.
Thankfully, Robert Vendetti’s writing makes the current status quo wholly accessible to new readers. Hall’s backstory, such as he remembers it, is summed up on the first page. The rest of what follows shows us precisely what kind of man Carter Hall is, as he explores an ancient ruin and copes with the inevitable guardians and booby traps.
Bryan Hitch is the ideal artist for depicting Carter Hall’s adventures. There is an inherent level of grit to Hitch’s style that suits the dirty ruins and unshaven machismo that is part and parcel of the character. As is usual, Hitch’s inks sometimes obscure his own pencils, but that seems to be less of an issue this time around – quite likely due to the contributions of Andrew Currie. With Alex Sinclair handling the color art, this book generally looks wonderful, though the inking levels are somewhat erratic. When this book looks good, however, it looks very good.
There is a great story waiting to be told about an outcast clan of intelligent apes who turned to piracy. Sadly, Hawkman #1 is not that story. I may be in the minority, but I would love to see a series focused upon how utterly weird archaeology must be in the DC Universe and the strange ruins that various cultures left behind. Yet despite its lack of sea-fairing gorilla pirates (a conceit I fully expect to see either Gail Simone or Tom Taylor tackle at some point), Hawkman #1 is a ripping yarn born of the same pulp fiction aesthetic that inspired Indiana Jones.