Saturday, June 13, 2009 which our writer discusses Hawkworld

Previously, in Second Printing: Devon writes about "reboots"
(seriously, just scroll down...)

To me it's funny that Devon wrote that post because I'm about 2/3rds of the way through the grandaddy of all FUBAR'd reboots: HAWKWORLD. 

I received a full run of the series last year and have just started making my way through it in the past week. For some reason I've never read the originating Tim Truman HAWKWORLD mini-series that was a pretty hyped piece of work back in the late-80's/early-90's. But with the ongoing series, I'm quite amazed at how Truman and Ostrander managed to avoid tackling DCU Continuity head-on for much of the series, with only the occasional reference to the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl.

While I didn't receive the first Annual in amongst the pile, I've been reading the reader response to it (jesus do I miss letter columns in DC Comics) and how upset the hawk-fans were with how it tried to explain the many continuity gaffs caused by Truman's reboot.

As most of you probably know, after Crisis (the first one), a few of DC's heavy hitters were heavily rebooted. Superman and Wonder Woman, most notably, went back to square-one, while Wally West became the Flash, and Captain Marvel, the Charlton heroes (Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, etc) and others were integrated into the new DCU by way of an all-new Justice League. By the time Truman rebooted the silver age Hawkman into HAWKWORLD, the silver age Carter and Shiera had already been visibly traipsing around the DCU, and this needed to be explained away somehow. A 15 year headache ensued.

While I'm sure fans wish it to be addressed at some point, do you think that not addressing it would have validated the series any more or only further alienated fans? As one fan wrote, could HAWKWORLD have not existed out of continuity just fine?
I wonder, should continuity always be addressed when rebooting?
(Geoff Johns is making a career out of explaining continuity errors it seems, or making continuity errors where none exist so that he can explain them away).

Anywho, HAWKWORLD is an interesting ride, and I would submit it as, to answer Devon's question, a good reboot. 

Ostrander's exploration of American social hierarchies, values, politics etc. was an unexpected element (if at times a little heavy handed), as was the Thanagarian political intrigue which the series routinely jumped back to. It's got superhero, sci-fi and fantasy elements, which very few series pull off very well. It's a pretty smart book. The biggest problem I found is Hawkman is pretty emo through it all. After a reading dozen issues of this I woke my wife up screaming "Hawkman does not keep a diary!" Even worse, every other issue Hawkwoman is crying. Shayera does not cry! But I get that the Katar Hol and Shayera Thal introduced in HAWKWORLD were blank slates and that their defining personas hadn't yet developed. Hawkwoman wouldn't truly be great until the Justice League cartoon, but you can see the foundation here. The only other major gripe is that you could make a drinking game out of every time someone yells "SEVEN HELLS" and never make it out of an issue with your sobriety intact...
Also, have to say that Graham Nolan's art in the series is decent, but his covers are incredible.

There's no formula for a good reboot.  Sometimes it means abandoning the past, and sometimes it means embracing it.  When HAWKWORLD did the former, it succeeded, and when it tried the latter, it failed.


Scotus said...

I don't think there's any hard and fast rule about reboots and continuity. Different characters and books have different needs. Rebooting worked for Hawkworld. It worked for Man of Steel. It worked for the Ultimate books.

Then you have The Legion of Super-Heroes, where every reboot has failed because DC can never settle on a version. Or The Warlord reboot from a couple of years ago, which was both unnecessary and inferior to the original.

Basically, it seems to come down to a balancing act between the needs of the characters and the risk of alienating readers through constant revisions.

Devon Sanders said...

As big a Hawkman fan as I am, this is the one aspect of Hawkman I've always sorta rejected.

Siskoid said...

I liked Hawkworld. The Hawks as police department exchange officers, though I thought it was too bad the married couple angle had been ditched. Hawkworld was the last time I liked the Hawkman franchise, I think (in comics, Hawkgirl on JLU not withstanding).

The late reboot did cause continuity headaches, but I've tended to explain it as "Crisis heaves", reality not aligning completely for a few years (in DC time, no more than a few months, probably).

Graig Kent said...

I just got through issues 21-26 (escape from Thanagar and the post script) and they do a rather interesting job with how they dealt with the continuity gaffs and integrating them into the larger Hawkworld storyline.
Unfortunately issue 26 marked the end of Thanagar's part in the series and while the subsequent half-dozen issues were okay, I think it lost a lot of momentum at that point. I wonder if it was the editorial switch which changed the series focus...?