By David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns & various (DC Comics)
The third collection of the revered, revived and very legendary Justice Society of America continued the crusade to resurrect or re-induct all the classic big names by reviving the biggest name and most visually arresting of the original team: Hawkman.
However, before that epic unfolds this volume (reprinting issues #16-26 of the monthly comic and portions of JSA Secret Files #1) kicks off with a triumphant extended return engagement for some old foes with ‘Injustice Be Done’. The first chapter ‘Divide and Conquer’ (illustrated by Stephen Sadowski and Michael Bair) finds an expanded Injustice Society in possession of the heroes’ most intimate secrets, ambushing them whilst they’re off guard with significant success.
In ‘Cold Comfort’ mastermind Johnny Sorrow reveals his plans as the heroes begin their fight back, and we see his horrific origins in ‘Sorrow’s Story’ (with additional art Steve Yeowell), before the World goes to Hell with ‘Into the Labyrinth’ (extra inks by Keith Champagne) and the ghostly Spectre returns to save the day.
And spectacularly fails…
The saga concludes in cataclysmic fashion with ‘Godspeed’ as Black Adam and Jakeem, the heir of genie-wielding Johnny Thunder join the team, but not before Jay Garrick the veteran Flash is lost in time and space…
Compelling as it was the entire saga was just a set-up for the eponymous ‘Return of Hawkman’ which I’ll get to after this necessary diversion…
Hawkman is one of the oldest and most revered heroes in comic-books, premiering in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940), created by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville, although the most celebrated artists to have drawn the Winged Wonder are Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Kubert, whilst a young Robert Kanigher was justly proud of his later run as writer.
Carter Hall was a playboy archaeologist until he uncovered a crystal knife that unlocked his memories. He realised that once he was Prince Khufu of ancient Egypt, and that he and his lover Shiera had been murdered by High Priest Hath-Set. Moreover with his returned memories came the knowledge that his love and his kicker were also nearby.
Using the restored knowledge of his past life he fashioned a costume and flying harness, hunting his killer as the Hawkman. Once his aim had been achieved he and Shiera maintained their “Mystery-Man” roles to fight modern crime and tyranny with weapons of the past.
Disappearing at the end of the Golden Age they were revived by Julie Schwartz’s crack creative team in the early 1960s (see Showcase Presents Hawkman volume 1 for further details), and after a long career involving numerous revamps and retcons the Pinioned Paladin “died” during the Zero Hour crisis.
Now the lost Jay Garrick awakens in old Egypt greeted by a pantheon of that era’s superheroes. Nabu, the Lord of Order who created Doctor Fate, the original incarnation of Black Adam and Khufu himself reveal the true origins of Hawkman whilst in the 21st century the JLA’s heavenly hero Zauriel tells the modern Hawkgirl just who and what she really is in ‘Guardian Angels’.
The epic further unfolds as a major connection to the alien Hawkworld of Thanagar is clarified and explored in ‘Lost Friends’ and as Garrick returns to his home time Hawkgirl is abducted to the aforementioned Thanagar by its last survivors, desperate to thwart the schemes of the insane death-demon Onimar Synn who has turned the entire planet into a zombie charnel house.
As the JSA frantically follow their abducted member to distant Polaris in ‘Ascension’ Carter Hall makes his dramatic return from beyond and saves the day in typical fashion before leading the team to magnificent victory in the concluding ‘Seven Devils’.
Illustrated by Buzz, Rags Morales, Sadowski, Bair, David Meikis and Paul Neary, this latest return not only led to Hawkman regaining his own title (more graphic novel magic to review soonest!) but also stands as one of the most cosmic and grand-scaled of all the JSA’s adventures.
Complex, enticing, thrilling and full of the biggest sort of superhero hi-jinks, if costume drama is your meat, this book should be your prey…
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