THE NEW 52, Week 2:
Hawk and Dove #1
The problem with day and date digital releases: it's a lot harder for DC Comics to pull an issue when some event in their books hits too close to home. Or maybe writer Sterling Gates handed Rob Liefeld a script and the infamously self-motivated artist drew whatever the heck he wanted anyway.
So after an earthquake damaged the Washington Monument in real life, we get a book with two superheroes in a strangely sound-stagey airplane fighting terrorists and zombie terrorists and perhaps the women who love them while trying to keep the plane from hitting – the Washington Monument.
Huh. Good thing this came out on 9/7 and not four days later.
This might be the weakest of the New 52 books, and not because of its bad timing. Honestly, I never hold that against a publication. It's that Gates, a pretty good writer, has been forced into bare coherence by the one artist to make even the brilliant Gail Simone look bad.
But a new reader wouldn't know that history, so let's take a step back and try to find fresh eyes with which to view this. Something about Liefeld's art does click with Hawk and Dove, so a point has to go to this book being visually striking.
That's never really been the problem with Liefeld's work; though some including myself don't care much for it, it's dynamic and great for pin-ups, such as that cover that shows Hawk and Dove leaping out of a background of, um, themselves. Looks cool. Says nothing. Except Hawk is really, really angry and Dove is really, really stoic. Twice.
Working against the book is that it's one that hasn't dumped much of its past continuity. Somehow, vaguely, Crisis on Infinite Earths still happened, in which the original Dove, Don Hall, got killed saving a boy from a falling building. Fine. People had to know that there's a tradition of nobility with the Dove suit that somehow looks much better on Dawn Granger.
Hank Hall, he who becomes Hawk, recaps their past, and oh, Mr. Gates, if only you had tweaked their origin a little from Steve Ditko's original. It really was just that random. Then there's the matter of Dawn Granger dating Deadman , which irritates Hank for reasons that have just never seemed clear. It's not jealousy. Maybe it's misguided protectiveness?
The whole dating Deadman thing does fit with the Twilight crowd – here again is a boyfriend who can't be a threat to virtue. He can't even touch her. Unless he possesses someone else's body and that becomes a little creepy to contemplate, but okay.
Then there's those zombie terrorists. I can't even begin to tell you what's going on with those, or if they're supposed to be the main threat, because there's another bird-themed figure lurking around who could be evil, or could be occupying that shadowy territory between the dark and the light. (In Liefeld's first time around, that was a character named Kestrel, but this doesn't seem to be him. Sorry, I can't help bursting in with Zorlak knowledge.)
It's a jumble, jamming a lot of different ideas in and serving a lot of different purposes. That might work against it's most important purpose – to get people to keep buying it. Gates struggles mightily to keep it all together, but even with the quirky presence of Deadman, it's not enough to hold my attention.