the Demons Past
February 1, 2005
Hawkman: Allies and Enemies TPB
Writers: James Robinson, Geoff Johns
Artist: Rags Morales
By Avi Green
The first number of issues was great stuff, now, we get even more,
such as a focus on the origin of Kendra Saunders, and even the
return of the Hawks’ leading archnemesis…though not quite as you
might be expecting, and that’s a double-bladed point too at that.
The book opens with a nice dialogue between Carter and Ray
Palmer/the Atom at a resturant in Saint Roch, where Ray’s arrived
for dinner with Carter via phone (no kidding, he can really travel
that way!), and giving these two former partners, as they were
towards the end of the Atom’s book in the Silver Age, a chance to
get to know each other again. Ray’s dialogue is very well written,
and Robinson and Johns do him a lot of justice here.
Speed Saunders, Kendra’s grandfather, is on an adventure in Tibet,
looking for the city of an old tribe called that Zhang Zhung (no
kidding), and has apparently been captured by said archnemesis, and
so the Hawks have to plan a search-and-rescue mission for him. And
who might it be, besides the traitorous mountain guide who’s led
them to the hideout where their enemy is waiting? Hath-Set, but not
quite as you might’ve expected. Rather than making his reappearance
as a man, even as Anton Hastor, he now exists, it appears, in the
body of a woman descended from his line named Helene Astar, who was
once the proprieter of a company under his 20th century
incarnation’s name. Astar may have first appeared in Infinity Inc.
back in the 1980’s, and it was in this guise that Hath-Set had tried
to corrupt and force Carter and Sheira’s son Hector Hall, the former
Silver Scarab and now Dr. Fate, into helping attack Hector’s
Hath-Set/Astar is plotting to put the Hawks to death in his usual
hatred for them, and it’s a good thing that Carter thought to bring
some special insurance along, in the form of the Atom, who appears
in the first story compiled here as a guest star. And Ray Palmer
certainly helps provide more than enough stuff to help out.
This was certainly a most enjoyable part, since it gave Ray some
good exchange of banter with Kendra as well. What a cool cinch! And
wait’ll you see what happened to the guide, Helene’s lover, too.
The baddies are routed, with Astar being turned into salt (?), and
the guide buried under the avalanche of snow, and then the goodies
are able to return home, though Speed parachutes out on the way,
looking for adventure in other places. A pretty good nod to some
classic pulp tales of yore.
Before the book gets on to the next story that has what to do with
an awful moment in Kendra’s past, however, there comes the issue
called “Fine Day for a Hanging”,
a flashback story to one of Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s previous lives,
which was in the late 19th century, as two gunslingers named
Nighthawk and Cinnamon. They met during an incident in Saint Roch of
the times, when a black estate manager whose name was Cyrus Evans,
the ancestor of Oliver Evans, was falsely charged with slaying his
boss, and fell in love with each other very quickly, of course. They
soon teamed up to help the man evade a lynch gang summoned up by
Matilda Dunney, the real culprit in the case, and he takes them to
the estate which, in modern times, will come to be known as the
Nighthawk, as a character, was first seen in Western Comics #5, published
October 1948. And Cinnamon was first seen in Weird Western Tales #48,
published September-October 1978. And it’s quite amazing how Johns
and Robinson could link these two Lone Ranger-ish protagonists to
modern-day continuity. The two would continue to travel the old West
on many adventures together, until Dunney, the culprit in the murder
here, succeeded in murdering the two of them as well. And yes, it
does appear that Hath-Set may have been that very antagonist at the
time, or that Dunney could’ve been an ancestor of Helene Astar
Which brings us to the part that relates to Kendra’s background, and
the terrible encounter she and her late mother once had when she was
14 years old: they were held hostage by two racist police officers
around Austin, Texas, where she first came from, who tried to rape
her mother while they were out on a landscape painting trip in the
country in the suburbs. Kendra had fought back against one of the
cops, who was trying to restrain her, and in the ensuing struggle,
the other one, whose name was Darryl Banks, was killed with the
first cop’s gun. (And the first cop may have been grazed by his own
weapon too.) The cop was doubtless terrified of that he could very
easily be convicted for his crimes, thanks to this, and fled, and
Kendra’s mother urged her not to think about that horrible moment
But of course, such things simply don’t go away, and it’s hard not
to have them come back in recollection, as it does for Kendra here,
when she thinks about it before she goes on the adventure to Tibet.
Her mother and father later learned that the cop may be in the St.
Roch area, and it was when they traveled there to investigate, that
they were murdered, apparently by a meta-human villain named
Warwhip, who gets killed in this same book here.
Now, this past incident has come back to trouble her again, after
the authorities come and charge her with officer Banks’ death. And
Carter’s certainly not happy about it either, but for now, he must
uphold the law, and let Kendra be taken into custody for
Which doesn’t happen, however, as the police car she’s in happens to
be driven by the very same officer whose gun went off and killed his
partner, and that, as it turns out to be, is Chief Nedal himself. He
had apparently fled to Louisiana, where he started life over,
continuing the same profession, and eventually made his way up to
the top brass, becoming the city’s police chief. Now, he’s hoping to
finish her off, lest she identify him to the authorities and testify
against him. Not to worry, she’s much more clever than you’d think,
and uses a trick to emerge from her handcuffs and try to wring his
neck, though this had the result of causing him to run off the road
and crash the car at a bayou in the St. Roch Parish. He flees, and
with Hawkman soon on the scene and Kendra soon getting her Hawkgirl
gear out of the car’s trunk, where it was stored, they set off to
search for him. But instead of Nedal, they find an old adversary of
theirs, the Gentleman Ghost.
What is he here for, and what does James Craddock, that being the
Ghost’s real name, want of the Hawks? While it’s not revealed right
away, as he vanishes from view shortly after speaking to them, it
will be soon. But first, the Hawks find that they must head back to
the Stonechat Museum, where Nedal has gone, told to murder their
friends there, and Jayita Sahir, if anyone, ends up dead from his
bullets, officer Isabella is injured, and Danny takes a gun from him
to fire at Nedal all around the museum as the crooked policeman
tries to murder him as well. Nedal is stopped when Hawkman flies in,
and is almost hung by our hero here, but Kendra decides it best not
to, and persuades him not to make another mistake, and Carter pulls
back from putting Nedal to death.
Instead, it is the Gentleman Ghost who does the dirty work, and
Nedal is hung on a railing on the museum building by a noose.
And he reveals something that Carter once did, to his regret, but
could not remember clearly until now: Craddock (who also appeared in
the 7th issue of this series), whom he’d met when in his life as
Nighthawk, was hung by Carter when the gunslinger version of our
hero discovered what he thought was Craddock trying to rape Cinnamon
in her hotel room one morning. In actuality, all he’d been trying to
do was to steal the sherriff’s badge that belonged to Cinnamon’s
father, a lawman himself, and the girl gunslinger woke to discover
this, leading to a scuffle between the two of them. But it was only
after Nighthawk dragged Craddock out and hung him by a railing on
the hotel that he found out, after Cinnamon came out and explained
everything, that he realized that it wasn’t the horrific crime he
thought it was that took place. But by then, it was too late.
Nighthawk regretted his actions, but for Craddock, it simply wasn’t
enough. Certainly not after, as he discovered, his being a ghost had
to do with his being stuck in the resurrection cycle of the Hawks
and their archnemesis Hath-Set, and while he would’ve been happy to
just go peacefully into the afterlife, the resurrection curse that
affected the Hawks had the effect of rendering Craddock a ghost in
the world of the living, and Craddock wasn’t pleased with that.
So now, as he reveals to them, he’d been whispering things to the
now deceased Nedal that he could do in the past few years, and while
he certainly hadn’t encouraged Nedal to attack Kendra and her mother
(something that to be sure, occurred before Craddock took to
becoming a “guardian devil” for Nedal), “who do you think told him
where to find your parents in St. Roch?” he asks her. In other
words, he took out his anger upon Kendra as well as Carter by
tipping Nedal off to Michael and Trina Saunders’ location in the
city when they were searching for him.
With that, it wouldn’t surprise me if Gentleman Ghost becomes as
much an enemy to Kendra as Hath-Set is to the both of them as well.
And it was certainly quite a surprising revelation too, no doubt
garunteed to haunt Carter for many years to come.
That wraps up another good entry in the fourth volume of Hawkman,
which leaves us with a possible cliffhanger of what’s to come in the
next issues at the end. Until then, this too is a good book, and
highly recommended for reading.
Update: I no longer stand by this review. I've long concluded
that this run was overrated trash.
Copyright 2005 Avi Green. All rights reserved.
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