Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Golden Bookshelf:

The Golden Age Hawkman Archives

Hawkman gets his own Archive Edition collected series, collecting Carter Hall's adventures in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East fighting warlords, assassins, and evil magicians.

The Golden Age Hawkman always had one of the more intriguing backstories, especially for the relatively unsophisticated era of the 1940s. Carter Hall and his girlfriend (later wife) Shiera were reincarnations of ancient Egyptian royals, doomed to relive their conflict with the traitorous Hath-Set over the centuries. The Hawks’ power of flight came from mysterious Egyptian myth-science, in the form of a substance called Nth Metal. In the early days, Hawkman’s adventures frequently took him to exotic parts of the globe – Asia, Africa, the Middle East – to fight cults of assassins, warlords and evil magicians.

Writer Gardner Fox provided a level of imagination far above average for these pulpy tales that shared top billing in Flash Comics during the 1940s. At first, Dennis Neville’s sketchy art offered only adequate accompaniment. The arrival of Sheldon “Shelly” Moldoff on the fourth story shored up the creative team and helped make Hawkman one of the highlights of DC’s Golden Age stable. Moldoff’s art was “inspired” (to be generous) by Alex Raymond’s stellar work on Flash Gordon. More to the point, most of the panels were dead swipes, down to the facial features and drapery. Nevertheless, second-hand Raymond was still leagues better than most original comic book art in those early days, and thanks to Moldoff’s facility with the lightbox, Hawkman had a dashing, finished, dramatic look that distinguished it from many of its rivals. Even the coloring appeared bolder and crisper, possibly because of the red-green design of Hawkman’s costume.

DC finally got around to collecting these early stories in the first volume of the Golden Age Hawkman Archives edition. As always, the production values are first-rate. There’s even an introduction by the venerable Moldoff, 65 years after the fact. Few characters have suffered as many continuity contortions over the years as Hawkman. It’s refreshing that the original concept still holds up so well.



The Golden Age Hawkman Archive Edition

DC Comics, 2005

Writer: Gardner Fox

Artist: Dennis Neville, Sheldon “Shelly” Moldoff

HC, 225 p., color, $49.99




Rob Salkowitz is a Seattle-based writer and authority on all manner of aging newsprint. You can e-mail your comments and queries to Rob at Use "ComicBase" as the subject line.

The Golden Bookshelf Archives