I am working my way through The Golden Age Hawkman Archives for the second time. The stories, from Flash Comics #1-22, are all written by Gardner Fox. The first three are illustrated by Dennis Neville, but the volume is notable mostly for the art by Sheldon Moldoff. The first time I read this volume I was struck by how many panels were swiped directly from Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant. This time through (I’ve read many more comic strip reprints since the first time), I’m struck by how many panels were swiped from Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon and Burne Hogarth’s Tarzan as well as Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant (and many others that look like swipes whose source I cannot identify), to the extent I wouldn’t be surprised if virtually every panel was swiped from one source or another.
There is one particular comic book artist who came to prominence in the ‘90s and was notorious for uncredited swipes (you probably know the one I mean), and he was generally ridiculed by fellow professionals and fans alike. OTOH, there is Wally Wood, who once famously said, "Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up." And that’s Wally Wood! The “hot” ‘90s artist is no Wally Wood by any stretch of the imagination, but what about Sheldon Moldoff?
Sheldon Moldoff wrote the introduction to the archive volume, and I tend to take him at his word when he professes the desire to elevate comic book art to the level of comic strip art of the time. In his introduction, he related the story of Al Williamson who, as a boy, lived in South America and had no access to American comic strips. One day his father gave him a copy of Flash Comics, however, and inspired him to become a comic book artist. (This story related by Moldoff how Williamson approached him at a con.) And you know what? Sheldon Moldoff’s art is more distinctive that that of most other artists of the Golden Age. I recall thinking that very thought the first time I read Flash Comics #1 and All-Star Comics #3 (reprinted as “treasury editions”).
It is jarring to me now, though, to go from King Arthur’s Camelot to Flash Gordon’s Mongo to Tarzan’s jungle at the turn of a page.
HAWKWORLD #27-32 - "FLIGHT'S END"
I did not read Hawkworld until "Flight's End." I was so disappointed that John Ostrander was not doing Grimjack and the Mike Grell was not doing Jon Sable that I chose not to support Hawkworld or Green Arrow in the hope that poor sales would drive them back to First Comics. My ploy didn't work, but I had always been told to vote with my dollars.
I bought #27-32 (a bit after-the-fact, IIRC) because I knew it was going to be the last six issues of the series and for the Timothy Truman covers (he also did the interior artwork of #30-32). In the letters pages, John Ostrander touched upon some of the themes he would soon elaborate on in The Spectre. For example: "I try to write honestly and that means, before I put something on paper, I have to confront it in myself first." Doesn't that sound like the Spectre's mission to "confront evil in order to comprehend evil"?
And there's plenty of "evil" to go around in Hawkworld. Consider this: "America these days is a victim of drugs and crime, of poverty, both economic and spiritual, held hostage to those who loot her resources, her finances, her good will and her good name! Forgotten is the love of diversity that made this country strong! Now groups demand that freedom be defined by their own narroe vision or gutted to conform to their stunted sense of morality! things have become so warped that to speak lovingly of one's country is to be derided, to claim one's Constitutional rights is to become suspect!" And that's a speech by one of the villains!
But this is not a discussion about Hawkworld; it's a discussion about those who have been "Hawkman" over the years. During the modern day sequences of Hawkworld Annual #1, Carter and Shiera Hall were trpped in Limbo, endlessly fighting Ragnarok, but by "Flight's End" they have been released, and in #29 they meet face-to-face for the third time. [The first time was in the Annual and the second was in the fourth issue of Armageddon: Inferno (briefly).]
The Hawks have their differences (and that includes Shiera ans Shayera as well), but ultimately Carter Hall deems Katar Hall "worthy" of the name "Hawkman."