JSA: The Return of Hawkman

I can’t even figure out where to begin with this trade.  There’s just simply so much going on that it’s almost overwhelming.

The point of the storyline is to reintroduce Hawkman to the continuity, but in order to accurately explain the context, the trade collects quite a few issues prior to Hawkman’s return.

As the trade opens, we see the JSA facing a new challenge: having to battle against an old foe, long thought dead.

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Truth be told this portion of the story is all build-up, providing a base on which to build Hawkman’s return.

Eventually, to defeat this old enemy, Flash must run at the speed of light, an act that somehow tosses him back into ancient Egypt, where he meets an old friend.

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Flash is informed of a prophesy that states Hawkman will return in the present day to play a key role in a future battle.  He is given a golden glove to give to the resurrected Hawkman, and returns to the present.

While all of this is happening, we start to see an imbalance in Kendra Saunders, the new Hawkgirl.  Confused and scared, she flees the JLA and encounters the angel Zauriel, who informs her of some rather distressing news.

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We learn that Kendra’s soul died after a suicide attempt, but that Shiera’s soul inhabited her body after this.  The Kendra we have known since her first appearance has been Shiera after all.

Just as she learns this, Kendra is whisked off to Thanagar, when the residents are being oppressed.  It is up to Kendra to resurrect Carter Hall so that he may liberate the Thanagarians.

Again, this is all build-up and backstory.  Hawkman doesn’t even make his big reappearance until a bulk of the way through the trade.

When he appears though, it’s pretty epic.

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Carter and Shiera fight and ultimately save Thanagar, which was all well and good, but I found their relationship to be far more intriguing.  Kendra has not fully accepted that she is actually Shiera, and Carter tends to lay his feelings on pretty thick.  He is constantly professing his undying love and devotion which, let’s be honest, would be pretty difficult to swallow.

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Luckily, Kendra isn’t too timid to voice her concerns. She puts Carter in his place, telling him to stop with the “but we’re soulmates” schtick.  She has her own issues to work out, and dealing with the supposed love of all her lives is not high on her list.  While I can feel for Carter because I know they actually are soulmates, I’m glad to see that Kendra is portrayed in a more realistic light.  With all of these earth-shattering realizations crashing down on her at once, it’s nice to see that she doesn’t just fall into the arms of this newly appeared man, and that she’s instead choosing to be on her own while she works through all of these changes.

The whole point of this storyline seems to be to reintroduce Carter and Shiera Hall back into the continuity, with a unified history connecting the previous versions noting their connections to Thanagar and Ancient Egypt.  The story combines elements from all of these to make a single, cohesive history for the characters.  I found it to be clean enough to make sense, while still remaining true to the many versions that have preceded it.

Once again the JSA comic exists as a means of reintroducing classic Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age characters to a younger audience, reimagining their stories while still providing a bit of history for the characters.  The comic serves a key purpose in the continuity, allowing readers to learn about past storylines without having to track down countless back-issues (a nearly impossible task at times).  These JSA trades are an invaluable addition to the comics universe, introducing readers to a host of older characters who may not be present in other comics, but who nevertheless serve a key role in the overall continuity. This would be a great jumping off point for anyone who doesn’t have much knowledge of Hawkman lore, and like all the other recent JSA trades, a great place to start gathering information on these older characters’ histories.

-Jess

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