JSA Volume 3: The Return of Hawkman

JSA: The Return of Hawkman
JSA: The Return of Hawkman

By David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns & various (DC Comics)
ISBN13: 978-1-84023-572-2

This third collection (reprinting issues 16-26 of the monthly comic and portions of JSA Secret Files #1) revived the greatest victim of DC’s perpetual massaging of their in-house continuity – an event considered impossible by many of the company’s top-guns – and accomplished it in a manner that is both impressive and enjoyable.

Hawkman was created by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville for Flash Comics #1, released in 1940 and one of the most visually arresting characters of the early days of comics. He ran until the end of the Golden Age, led the Justice Society for nearly its entire history and even alternated cover slots with the eponymous Flash.

He vanished with so many others at the beginning of the 1950s, and was revived both as a new concept for the Silver Age, and in his original persona when the JSA met the Justice League of America. Although seemingly incapable of supporting a mass-market book for any sustained period, he is an icon of DC’s line and was savagely retconned many times. In the parlous times of the mid-1990s he seemingly vanished into Limbos both literal and literary.

With a timeline considered “toxic” by the DC powers-that-be he was left to languish until the incredibly audacious scribes Goyer and Johns decided to bring him back and do him right in his true home: the JSA comicbook. And although that’s what this collection reprints, the road took a few twists and turns before it got there…

Kicking off is a five part saga sub-titled ‘Injustice Be Done’ as the Faustian mastermind Johnny Sorrow gathers a team of super-villains and executes a strategic assault on the multi-generational group of heroes. As if it matters those reprobates are Count Vertigo, Killer Wasp, Rival, Blackbriar Thorn, Geomancer, the Icicle, Tigress, the Thinker, Shiv and Black Adam, but the unconfined joy of this fights ‘n’ tights romp is the return of the Spectre to this most influential of teams.

At the climax of the action extravaganza, the Flash is lost in time and the interlude tale ‘Guardian Angels’ details his meeting with the heroes of ancient Egypt – including the flying Warrior Prince Khufu, whose murder led to a cycle of heroic reincarnations that culminated in the birth of Hawkman.

The Big Show then follows with ‘The Return of Hawkman’ a four part spectacle that spans thousands of years and trillions of miles as Hawkgirl and a team of JSA-ers travel to the devastated planet Thanagar to resurrect the Winged Wonder from non-being and destroy a soul-eating demon who has turned the entire planet into a vast charnel house playground.

As well as reconciling the convoluted histories of Hawkman into a viable whole and kicking off a highly entertaining spin-off series this dramatic tale is pure superhero flash and dazzle – the kind of bravura fantasy that no other medium of expression has ever managed to match.

It’s not witty, it’s not significant and it’s not capital A “Art” – but it is spellbinding, breathtaking adventure. What more can a fan-boy want?

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