Review by Frank Plowright
Well, Hawkman’s there on the cover, and the book is titled Hawkman Returns, but then Walter Simonson had everyone thinking he’d returned in The Maw, and it turns out he hadn’t. In a way it’s irrelevant, as sooner or later Hawkman always returns, each time complicating his background still further, and here the focus is on Hawkgirl.
Her history is also complicated, but Kendra Saunders doesn’t entirely accept her heritage as a constantly reincarnated princess, nor her connection to the alien warrior culture of Thanagar. Not everyone else sees it that way, though, and in one way or another most of this selection concerns Thanagarian problems, as Simonson investigates the conflict between Rann and Thanagar. It’s the sort of epic scope Simonson really loves, and it’s a treat discovering he also draws two chapters. That’s no criticism of Renato Arlem or Joe Bennett, both good in different ways, but Simonson brings a power absent from the pages of the other artists, and his art has a strong design element, displayed well.
Hawkman does return, and readers who’ve been following the era’s continuity are brought up to date on where he’s been and what he’s been up to. That ties in with attacks on Hawkgirl back on Earth. Main villain Blackfire is powerful, but also deals in deceit, and via that emotional manipulation. Readers are aware she’s lying to Hawkman, but there’s a tension through the two chapters Simonson draws wondering if she’s also lied to Hawkgirl. It’s emotional suspense very professionally set up and played out.
Simonson is also in the process of redefining Hawkgirl. Her capabilities are slightly altered, although that will need reinforcing if it’s not just to be seen as a convenient cop-out for a pivotal early sequence. It was suggested by Batman that her weapons are upgraded, and that’s a process begun here.
The Maw was strangely plagued by staged dialogue, but there’s no evidence of it continuing, and a neat final drama wraps up a collection to make you sad Simonson’s Hawkgirl ends with Hath-Set. A good cliffhanger leads readers there.