Saturday, March 10, 2012

Review- The Golden Age Hawkman Archives Vol. 1

THE GOLDEN AGE HAWKMAN ARCHIVES VOL. 1 (DC, 2005; Hardcover)
Collects selections from Flash Comics Nos. 1-22 (cover dates January, 1940- October, 1941)
Writer: Gardner Fox
Artist: Sheldon Moldoff (4-22), Dennis Neville (1-3)
Golden Age Hawkman totally rocks. I love how Carter Hall is supposed to be some sort of Egyptian reincarnation, but when they show him in ancient Egypt as Prince Khufu, he has blond hair and blue eyes. I can imagine that would be quite a rare trait in ancient Egypt! I also love how he fashions his wings out of the ninth metal, which defies gravity. I love the faulty science in old comic books. There is such an emphasis on fun, and these stories have tons of energy, so I can overlook all of these shortcomings with a smile. Old comic books are charming in their innocence and naivete. 
I dislike it when heroes kill villains in comics, but I now have to rethink this double standard of mine. I love Golden Age comic books, and Hawkman kills villains in literally every single issue. I love it here, so how can I dislike it in modern comic books, unless the character has originally started out that way? I am thinking about the old X-Men “X-Men don't kill” line here, for the most part. I am going to have to get over my upbringing in the era of comics approved by the Comics Code Authority. Hawkman (or Hawk-Man as he is called in the first few stories) kills villains and doesn't think twice about it, and I love it. 
Sheldon Moldoff's artwork is fantastic, very detailed for the era. I was unfamiliar with him prior to reading this book, and I have heard that he only recently passed away. There are times when I kick myself for being unaware of great comic books, and creators, like this. None of us can be everywhere or have read everything at once. It's exciting that there is no shortage of great comic books from all eras for me to discover still. 
The top talent of the '40s worked in newspaper comic strips, but beyond that they mostly worked for DC. There were a few great talents elsewhere, but DC ruled the '40s. I am sad that there are no more Golden Age Hawkman Archives for me to buy.
The OCD zone- Not every issue's cover is included, which is a DC trait that I loathe. They only feature the covers which have Hawkman on them, but my OCD dictates that all covers must be included.
Like all DC Archives, this has high quality, dull matte paper with sewn binding, and lays relatively flat. This is my poison of choice for hardcovers, as I like to read them while laying in bed. The restoration is generally excellent, with the exception of the first few covers. There is visible pixelation on the cover art for those first few covers, likely the result of “primitive” restoration techniques.
It is worth noting that DC's restoration was better than Marvel collections of the same vintage. My complaints are by 2012 standards, but it must be noted for the sake of argument that Marvel was not always producing better quality product than DC. A 2005 DC Archive has better paper, binding, and restoration than a 2005 Marvel Masterwork.
I must reiterate that I am on the extreme end of the anal retentive scale with my OCD for having the best possible reproduction and presentation, exceeding most sane folks' standards. It is my opinion that these are historically significant artifacts, emphasis on the art, and need to be preserved at all costs for future generations to study and enjoy. Pixelation and the occasionally crappy gradient shading mar the reading experience for me. DC keeps the original color palette intact, but sometimes the color blend has obvious gradient shading, which has a cheap, airbrushed look to it and it annoys me. Most folks, again, would scratch their head and say “Dude, what in the Hell are you talking about??” Consider me an audiophile of high end hardcover collected editions.

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