I can’t say that I’ve ever been a big Hawk and Dove fan. While I enjoyed their depiction in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, I haven’t read a lot of stuff with the characters. I know they were originally conceived by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, but I haven’t read that stuff yet (I say yet because DC is releasing a second Steve Ditko Omnibus this December which will include the original Hawk & Dove comics. The first Omnibus with Ditko’s Shade the Changing Man is available now & can be special ordered by Super-Fly). What I have read (mainly 80s Tales of the Teen Titans stuff before Dawn as Dove had been introduced) depicted Hawk getting angry for anger’s sake, which I always kind of thought was goofy. I didn’t read Brightest Day either, which prominently featured the characters, so I didn’t know to expect with Hawk & Dove #1. However, with the New 52 providing a fresh start for everything, I hoped this would be a good entry point into learning about these classic characters. It is, and while it was on the lower end of all the releases this week, Hawk & Dove is a decent book with an intriguing lead in.
Hawk and Dove are based in Washington D.C., where a mad scientist terrorist takes over the internet to make public threats on the nation, then sends a plane full of monster zombies into the capital to attack. Luckily, Hawk and Dove are already on scene. Hawk is the Avatar of War, while Dove is the Avatar of Peace which is evident in the first few pages with Hawk busting terrorist and zombie creature heads while Dove struggles to try to land the plane safely.
While trying to have an open mind, coming across the introduction of H&D’s powers had me nearly laughing. Hawk’s powers are: enhanced vision, agility, strength, body density and healing factor, while Dove’s power set includes: enhanced intelligence, compassion, enhanced strength, flight, and danger sense. Since when is COMPASSION a super power?!? Inspiring compassion in others maybe? It just sounds a bit silly I guess. I do think it is cool that they have different power sets though, which could (and in the first issue does) lead to them to compliment each others’ powers in combat situations.
Hawk and Dove take care of the plane, but it doesn’t end perfectly. The characters’ different nature is not only in their powers, as they end up quarreling easily. They soon depart, and head into their respective lives. Hawk, AKA Hank Hall, sits at home complaining to his father about Dawn and how she doesn’t live up to his previous partner. Hawk isn’t getting mad just for the sake of it. He’s pissed he lost his brother and partner, Don Hall, the original Dove, and that Dawn has come from seemingly nowhere to take his place after Don was killed (in Crisis on Infinite Earths).
Dawn meanwhile is crime fighting with Deadman, who makes a cameo. He apparently hooked up with Dove during Brightest Day but don’t get too creeped out: Deadman was alive at the time. Here, towards end of the issue things start to get interesting. This part with Deadman was even more appealing to me than the last page cliffhanger, but you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out why.
Though I loved him growing up, I have to say I have not been a big Rob Liefeld fan in recent years. That said, the man has done a quality job on the art and the reports that he was so really pumped for this book and that his enthusiasm shows in his work is actually true. Go Rob Liefeld! There are also some instances of clever panel placement, especially the two page spread depicting Hawk and Dove’s transformation and origin. Gates overall wrote a good issue but it’s just a standard super hero tale with a dash of intrigue. With all the releases this past week, Hawk & Dove doesn’t really stand out from the crowd. However, it does establish who Hawk & Dove are for first time readers, and provides a decent hook to keep reading.
If you like the characters, you should really enjoy the book. If you’ve never heard of them, then you probably will like it too. If you’re familiar with them and not the biggest fan, this book probably won’t win you over. It’s just standard super hero fare. Not bad. Not great. However, it has some potential. Whether or not I pick up #2 will probably come down to my state of finances next month, but if I’m in a good place then I think I may get it—though I’m not ready to add it to my pull list. Gates and Liefeld do a better than expected job, making Hawk & Dove a book that is worth reading, but not outstanding in the massive amount of DC Comics that came out week two of the New 52.