By Timothy Truman, Alcatena, Sam Parsons & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-4329-6 (TPB)
In the mid-1980s, DC first culled and remade their vast continuity. Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths inspired creators re-imagined many the company’s hottest properties and a lot of beloved history was rewritten, only to be un-written in the decades since – which only shows how fiercely us fanboys hold onto our nostalgic treasures.
One of the few incidences of a reboot that deserved to stay untouched was when the Silver Age Hawkman was recreated in the wake of the 1989 braided mega-epic known as Invasion!
Previously, Katar Hol and his wife Shayera had been wholesome law officers from utopian planet Thanagar. Stationed on Earth to observe police methods, they were subsequently banished here when their homeworld fell to an alien “equalizer plague” and the dictator Hyanthis. This was then all abandoned for a back-story where Thanagar was always a sprawling, fascistic intergalactic empire in decline, utterly corrupt, and bereft of all creativity and morality.
Here lords live in floating cities, indulging in every excess whilst servants and slaves from a thousand vassal worlds cater to their every whim when not festering in gutter-ghettos far below. In this version, Hol is just another useless young aristocrat, but with an unnameable dissatisfaction eating away inside him.
Joining the security forces – or Wingmen – he experiences the horrors of the world below and rebels. Corruption is the way of life and he uses that to advance the conditions of the slaves, earning the enmity of his drug-running commander, Byth Rok. When his secret charity is exposed, Hol is framed and imprisoned on a desolate island where he meets alien shaman/philosophers and undergoes a spiritual transformation.
Learning compassion, he sets out to right the wrongs of a world, aided only by the dregs of the underclasses and fellow Wingman Shayera Thal: a mysterious, warped version of his girl-friend who was murdered years previously…
This lost classic – originally released in 1989 as a 3-part Prestige miniseries and now available in digital and paperback formats – lovingly blends the most visual, visceral elements of Gardner Fox, Joe Kubert and Murphy Anderson’s iconic Hawkman, with shades of The Count of Monte Cristo, Apocalypse Now and Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination: solidly set against the backdrop of the harsh and cynical Reagan/Thatcher years to tell a dark moody tale which garnered great success and quickly spawned a compelling monthly series.
Now that modern DC is acknowledging debt to its creative and historical Infinite Frontiers, it’s high time this masterful thriller was again in print and regular production.
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