There’s no one more metal than Hawkman. And there is perhaps no one more integral to Dark Knights: Metal than Carter Hall. But where has he been all this time? Answers await in Hawkman: Found #1.

I don’t always enjoy Metal, but when I do, I choose Nth Metal

Metal has been a mixed bag for me. When Snyder and Capullo have embraced the zaniness, I’ve generally loved it; but when it came time for them to explain the whole affair with a straight face, I felt bogged down by it all. Most of the tie-ins didn’t do much better by me. The whole Dark Knights/Justice League match-up is a cool visual, but the actual outworking on the page got tired pretty quickly. It’s been a long time since I’ve found Snyder’s Batman a sympathetic character, so even Batman: Lost failed to make me feel invested. Enter Hawkman: Found, the first book—other than Murder Machine and one of the Justice League tie-ins—that has succeeded in forging an emotional connection between itself and this reviewer.

So what’s different? For starters, Found’s plot is as simple as everything else in this event is convoluted. That’s not to say that it’s free of mystery, or that we have all of the answers at the end; rather, you can pick up this book having never read any of the the preceding material, and still enjoy a compelling read. While it ties—significantly—into the larger story, it has its own internal conflict, asks its own questions, and creates its own investments. There’s a well-defined journey, a climax, and the fall that follows it.

The themes likewise enjoy a simplicity that stands in sharp contrast to the intricate confusion of Metal-proper—elemental things like identity, failure, and the dissonance between who we are and who we feel we’re meant to be. There is the stubbornness in Carter that refuses to accept his plight, though reality seems to offer him no other choice.

Where Found runs closer to the larger Metal storyline, things get a bit weaker. Lemire has his own, strong story to tell here, and the references to the darkness and the Forge of Worlds feel like a disruption. Those of you with more interest in Metal may see things a bit differently. Regardless, the disruption is a relatively small one, so even for one such as I, there’s still a lot to like here.

Hawkman gets Hitch’d

Bryan Hitch brings a lot to the table, too. He’s an artist who isn’t afraid to sacrifice fidelity to storytelling when he’s on a deadline—something we saw quite a bit during his JLA run at the end of The New 52. But his pages in Found look like he had plenty of time, and his lines are very much worthy of his excellent layouts. Carter looks fantastic throughout, with lots of subtle emotion in his expressions and posture. Hitch puts him in a variety of poses from lots of perspectives, and he manages to nail most of them. There’s so much more to comics art than “drawing good,” but it’s awfully nice to see an illustrator at the top of his form like this.

Nowlan inks Hitch beautifully, whether in intimate, ink-washed moments in a cave, or in fantastical, gorgeous shots of the Forge where Hitch has given him lots of intricate cross-hatching to cover (I’ve read that Hitch hates inking his own work, and I can see why!). There are so many lines in this book, and Nowlan has preserved them expertly.

I’m not sure who does what, but Sinclar and Skipper produce fantastic color work, as well. Sinclair has worked with Hitch extensively, and most of the book has a very Hitch-typical palette. The Forge panels are quite different, but neither one is better or worse than the other—it all seems appropriate. Hitch’s facial lines tend to be applied with restraint, and many modern colorists seem to approach (or are instructed to approach) such spare detail as an excuse to go nuts and add lots of detail through color and light. Not so here. There is an overall flatness to it that I think works wonderfully with Hitch’s character aesthetics, and that looks perfect here. The richer color of the Forge serves as a nice contrast rather than a distraction. Overall, this is a fantastic-looking book.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been wondering what’s up with Hawkman.
  • You want to see Metal get more intimate and character-focused.
  • You like seeing Bryan Hitch at the top of his game.

Overall

A short-but-essential digression from Metal’s main goings-on, Hawkman: Found stands quite well on its own. With a moving story, refined visuals, and beginner-friendly accessibility, this may well be my favorite book to come from this entire event. Whether you’re into Metal or not, you should give Hawkman: Found a chance.

SCORE: 8.5/10