Friday, September 9, 2011

DC Reboot Review: Hawk and Dove. Can't All be Winners!

My noob coverage of September's DC line-wide reboot continues. Can these new #1's inspire and hook a casual fan? So far I've read and reviewed Justice League #1 (which left me a little cold), Action Comics #1 (which was pretty great), Detective Comics #1 (well done, but who is it for?), and Batgirl #1 (I'm just not sure).

This time we're getting a little more obscure and investigating two characters that, for most of us, require some sort of introduction. Who on earth are Hawk and Dove? What's their deal? How do they fit in? Why should we invest in them? And why is Hawk always grimacing in like he desperately needs to shit?

All our questions will (kind of) be answered in Hawk and Dove #1, written by Sterling Gates and drawn by the notorious and irrepressible Mr. Rob Leifeld:

Is it any good? I'll state the obvious after the jump!

First the elephant in the room. Sir Robert of Liefeld.

 In our nerd world there are a couple of givens:

- Mention the prequels and someone will hate on Jar Jar.
- Mention Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and someone will bitch about CGI monkeys.
- Mention Rob Liefeld and everyone will pile-in to make fun of his art.

But Rob Liefeld's art is popular. In 1991 and 1992, the last time I was reading mainstream comics regularly, I read Marvel's X-Force with a bright-eyed young Liefeld drunk at the helm. And I loved it. Unironically! You see, Rob may have a tenuous grasp on human anatomy and he might not be able to draw feet, but his work does have an infectious energy which is innocently endearing, and consistently entertaining. And don't forget he created Deadpool and Cable!

So I'm not here to rag on Rob or his art. It's been played out. Sure, Hawk looks constipated. He looks like he's about to pop a gasket even when he's around a friend. He's got a bigger grimace than McDonaldland. But we're going to move past that and talk about the story. In fact, really I want to talk about the characters...

So Who Are Hawk and Dove? (SPOILERZ)
Hawk's an "avatar of war" and Dove's an "avatar of peace". They are a team of two directly opposing viewpoints, which is about as sensible as the 1972 movie The Thing With Two Heads when a rich white racist has his head grafted onto the body of a black man. They wear garish costumes inspired by their avian namesakes and they have "powers" but the book never really adequately explains what they exactly are.

The book opens with an over-the-top action sequence (a plane packed with terrorist zombies determined to take out a phallic monument) but then we finally get a taste of Hawk and Dove's origin. And it's the most awkwardly shoe-horned in origin story that I think I've ever read. Hawk is casually chatting to his father who is casually putting on a tuxedo. You see, in turns out that the original Dove was Don, Hawke's brother who is (sadly?) no longer with us. The new female Dove's arrival was unexpected and we don't know a lot about her and Hawk is somewhat unsure of her. But here's the strange part...

Hawk casually mentions to his father, "Don's half the reason I'm in this mess, Dad. I got these powers - became an avatar of war - because of him". "What do you mean?" asks a nonplussed looking Dad. And Hawk proceeds to tell Dad the origin of his "powers".



They have never had this conversation before? It just causally comes up now? After ten years? Is Dad suddenly all, "Oh yeah... I've been meaning to ask you how you got those superpowers... I just never got around to it."? It makes no sense!

Speaking of making no sense, let me tell you how they got their powers.

Young Don and Hawk are locked in a room by a gangster, and Don - who is usually a pussy - uncharacteristically screams out, "I wish I had the power to get us out of here.." and then the BOOMING VOICES OF THE GODS say, "POWER? YOU WISH FOR POWER?" and then the GODS teach them the MAGIC WORDS to turn into the powerful HAWK and DOVE, avatars of war and peace!

Now. Who says comics are silly?

If these books are intended to appeal to new readers then I imagine that this issue is going to have the largest struggle. I'll put it as simply as possible - here's your one sentence review:

Hawk and Dove, as both characters and a concept (as presented here) are simply not interesting enough, or credible enough, to appeal to an audience that wasn't already previously invested in them.

If you're a Hawk and Dove fan then you might get something out of this book - I don't know, but it's a weird read for the uninitiated and doesn't do a very good job at explaining things. There are a lot of unanswered questions and baffling decisions for a noob. For example, Dove is apparently in a relationship with Deadman. Now I know vaguely about Deadman, and sure enough he's seen flying around the city with her - he's bald, has a ghostly pallor, and a distractingly low-cut red jumpsuit. There's zero attempt to explain to a new reader who Deadman is or why the shapely Dove would give a shit about him. Isn't he dead? Is she banging a corpse? I don't understand the history or the relationships and it leaves me wanting.

Which is true for the book as a whole. It's a brief nineteen pages and I wasn't expecting it to end when it did. And I didn't really understand the ending, or what the character at the end was even trying to convey. It was more of a case of, "Really? Is that it?" This book was only $2.99 but I didn't feel the value, and I have zero idea of where it's headed, and about the same amount of interest.

Here's something controversial! I think Liefeld's the best part of this book. He's still fun. He still has that energy and I'm still inexplicably as drawn to his work as I was twenty years ago. I have to admit that if it wasn't for his involvement I would never have even picked up the book. And he draws pretty sweet zombies. I actually kind of wish that Rob was writing the book as well because I enjoy his overwrought tough guy over-the-topness. Luckily Sterling Gates steps up to the plate a little by having the 'roided out Hawk yell out idiot things like, "YOU HEAR ME, JERKWADS?" Jesus, Hawk! You're so tough!

Pretty sure I won't be continuing with this one.

1 comment:

  1. I laughed so hard one of my Strawberry Shortcake dolls fell over! FOR REALZ.

    Oh comics, when will you stop making me ashamed of you?