My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I want it to be known up front: I only read this on a dare. Some GoodReads compadres (the fun kind, who now populate this blog) got it in their head that we should read the shallowest comics we can find as a group read, thus a modern take (and horribly reviewed) Book by The Rob was an obvious if horrific choice. This sucker took me a full week to get through – page count be damned, if this was a classic Bendis book it would’ve been done in one night. As for this, it became harder and harder to keep picking this up like the One Ring, and took almost as long as that fucking mountain climb in The Lord of the Rings.
But strangely it doesn’t start out as bad as it ought. Sure, the Rob and his assistant/script-repairer can think of no better way to dump exposition on us but an endless series of Bendis-length thought balloons, and there’s a ridiculous transition to beat-em-up right after an “intellectual” start. And there’s lines like this: “I always knew there would come a day when I would have to stand and fight for it…it was only a matter of time.” – which is leaden and melodramatic, and compounded by the fact(?) that this dude has only been in possession of the Nth metal for what, a few weeks or months?
In fact, every time the action slows down to afford some character-building, instead we’re subjected to some of the worst, most leaden dialogue I’ve ever read. It’s like something the bombastic know-it-all in your high school math class might bust out – combined with the most kindergarten-level “I’ll state this for the reader even though we both know it and there’s no way I’d be stupid enough to repeat myself as if I’ve suffered brain injuries”.
The writers even give up entirely during the gladiator fight scene (which should be perfectly suited to Hawkman the Brute, but is royally screwed up with dry inner monologue), where Carter tells himself, “I’ve said it before but I bears repeating…” It doesn’t even matter what he tells himself at that point – I’m already convinced this Ph.D. archaeologist must’ve gotten his doctorate from an online college.
I’m also having a hard time getting into the core character here – if he’s the “Savage” Hawkman, wouldn’t his inner monologue sound a little…emotional? While he’s “taking his frustrations” out on a random villain, Carter thinks to himself, “I have to give Emma credit. She’s been handling all of this incredibly well, given the difficult circumstances.” I believe the diagnosis is Asperger’s ma’am – any normal “savage” dude, in the middle of an enraged battle, would be thinking more like, “That bitch better keep out of the way of my giant MACE! Mua-ha-ha I love pounding hamburger with this thing! Look at this asshole’s face – tonight let’s make sloppy joes!”
Instead, the Savage never really gets shown as much as told – over and over – like a mace to the rapidly-softening head.
When Hall visits a cathedral in Rome, he gets accused of blasphemy and violating “our house of our Lord.” So of course the villain punctuates his attack by *crashing through a stained glass window in that same building*. Does the Nth metal cause mental retardation, and does it have the same effects on anyone nearby?
(Not to mention the number of villains wearing dual crossed swords strapped to their backs. Methinks Liefeld had one original idea in the 90’s with Deadpool, and can’t let go of this ridiculous idea even decades later. Really, when you’re trying to pull a longsword out of its scabbard, is there any angle more obtuse and slowing than *strapped to your back*?)
Back to the action: for a learned archaeologist, this dude is overly fixated on the one relic that lets him beat the shit out of anyone who looks the wrong way at him. “I certainly didn’t come here looking for a fight. With Nth metal, I don’t start fights, I *finish* them!” (Reminds me of the brotards in university days.)
Wait – a mostly-stone building goes up in flames because someone threatened to burn paper with a candle? How exactly does that happen Rob?
Rob: how brain-dead do you have to be to write this badly? Total flatline, or just functional vegetative state? You get Carter a gunshot wound to his nearly-bare chest (still in costume), when a few pages back *in the same issue* Carter thinks to himself, “When I’m threatened or in danger, the Nth metal manifests into a powerful armor…”
Oh and the hits keep on coming… First the shooter says “it’s my absolute pleasure to kill you” and then a few pages later “Besides, the boss wants you alive…” My theory must be right – anyone who gets close to the Nth metal loses basic reasoning skills. He’s not Savage Hawkman – he’s Mental Defective Hawkman!
“The armoured steel cable wraps around my body, squeezing ever do tightly.” Someone’s been writing 50 Shades fanfic again…
Hawkman gets crucified and his girlfriend’s clothes immediately melt off. I’m sensing a porn theme.
The Origin story is worthy of a high school Shakespearean production, thee’s and thou’s included. Terrible overlong, overwritten nonsense that’s apparently fanservice to the three people who give a shit about this asshat.
Ham-fisted attempts to wedge in a story of lost memories and fragmented personality. Would work better if the character sounded like he gave one ounce of steaming shit about it.
Halfway through this brick of a book, I gave up the will to live. I finally stopped even enjoying the opportunity to flay the creators alive for every slight against humanity they wrought in this book. When Tom DeFalco came on board to replace the fired Liefeld, I felt an overwhelming wave of relief…too soon. Apparently you can take the man out of the 80’s, but you can’t take the 80’s overwritten bombast out of the man.
And for my next trick, we present to you stone-aged man brought back to life in 2013: “You’re very stubborn, Emma Ziegler.” “Alert the media. Successful career woman refuses to be ignored.” Has any woman *ever* uttered the phrase ‘career woman’ in reference to herself – or is this just a sad, scared man-child’s way of dealing with women who don’t need them?
In all, I think what DeFalco failed to pull off was (a) instantly retconning as much of the origin story as Liefeld let dribble down his chin, (b) return DC to the gloriously overwritten days of his youth and (c) execute as close a ripoff combo of The Hulk sequel and the Dark Knight Rises movies as he could with that final issue.
The art in this collection is nevertheless striking, and the interiors kick the shit out of Liefeld’s sad excuses for covers. It makes me wonder if Rob’s got the palsy, as shoddy as his linework there is. Is *that* why he’s writing now? I found myself appreciating the relief that the art provided from the writing – as much as that relief could make it possible to momentarily forget the torture that Sam, Anne & the rest of our merry gang of comics nuts put ourselves through. On to something less unpleasant and time-consuming – I have an appointment with my shrink to confront a few phobias (including one I just acquired, Liefeld-DeFalcophobia).
Behold an example of the good-but-misguided art:
Outside of a Mr. Universe pageant, who has garden hoses strapped under their skin like that?