Where in the world is Carter Hall?
Hawkman is among the most convoluted heroes in DC’s massive stable, and one of the many goals with Dark Nights: Metal has been to reinvigorate the character and make him exciting and accessible for the DC Rebirth era. It’s fitting that one of the many Metal tie-ins is tasked with spotlighting Carter Hall and exploring his role in this massive conflict. Hawkman Found #1 doesn’t necessarily add much to the larger Metal narrative, but it does offer an enticing glimpse of things to come for this character.
As the titles suggest, Hawkman Found #1 serves as a companion of sorts to the recent Batman Lost #1. Both books follow a hero who’s trapped in the murky depths of the Dark Multiverse and fighting to return home. In Metal #4, we learned that a twisted version of Hawkman now serves as the blacksmith at the Forge of Worlds. But within that monstrosity, the spirit of Carter Hall still remains, and he still dreams of flying.
This story may spring from the cliffhanger in Metal #4, but it doesn’t advance the narrative in the way Batman Lost did. That issue basically served as the unofficial replacement for the core Metal series in November, whereas Hawkman Found is very much a self-contained, insular offshoot of the main conflict. That lack of tangible impact on the crossover is slightly disappointing, but that simply doesn’t seem to have been a goal here. If it were, no doubt Scott Snyder or James Tynion IV would have stepped in to write the book. Instead, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of Jeff Lemire, a newcomer to the Metal scene, but one who looks to be playing a big role in DC’s “New Age of Heroes.”
Lemire’s approach here seems emblematic of what DC is trying to accomplish with that new line as a whole. Hawkman Found takes a character who’s readily familiar to readers yet has fallen on hard times of late, and it gives him a fresh sheen. Lemire is able to cut through the massive amount of baggage surrounding Hawkman’s origin story and get to the heart of Carter Hall. Lemire’s script taps into a lot of what made those Dark Days prelude issues work so well – the thrill of adventure coupled with the dread of discovering the horrors that await on the other side. Thematically, if not in terms of plot, Hawkman Found fits right in with the larger crossover. And it certainly builds anticipation for what promises to be a much more prominent role for Carter Hall in the post-Metal DCU.
Hawkman Found serves as a marked departure from artist Bryan Hitch’s recent, Justice League-focused work at DC. It also happens to be his most impressive DC book to date. That’s thanks in no small part to the fact that Hitch’s pencils are paired with Kevin Nowlan’s inks. Following Hitch’s career over the past decade has often been a frustrating experience, as his work never seems as clean and refined as it was in the heyday of books like The Authority and The Ultimates. Nowlan is the first inker in a long time who seems able to bring out the best in Hitch’s trademark widescreen style. There’s plenty of power and detail in these pages, as well as a real confidence to the line-work. Better still, Nowlan brings an unusually sinister touch to Hitch’s pencils, one that’s perfectly suited to the dark, brooding nature of this particular story. I’d love to see these two paired on future projects.