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DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

At last! It's here! The figure that nobody demanded!

During Ancient Egypt's 15th Dynasty, Prince Khufu and his beloved Princess Chay-Ara discovered a downed spacecraft from the planet Thanagar. Exposure to the ship's anti-gravity Nth Metal allowed Khufu and Chay-Ara to be reincarnated countless times throughout the ages to follow. In modern times, Khufu became the hero Hawkman, Chay-Ara reincarnated as his beloved Hawkgirl.

Gardner Fox used to tell a story about the creation of Hawkman wherein he was inspired by a bird flying around outside his window. You may recognize that as Batman's origin, which conveniently was published just a few short months before Hawkman debuted (November 1939 for Detective Comics #33 vs. January 1940 for Flash Comics #1). Now, we're not saying Gardner Fox was lying about his inspiration for the character, but consider this: he was assigned to create a backup feature for Flash Comics; in the late '30s the combination of the words "Flash" and "comic" meant only one thing - Flash Gordon; one of Flash Gordon's most memorable associates are the Hawkmen of Mongo, who have big feathery wings on their backs and winged helmets on their heads. Hmmm...

No surprise, this figure is 95% identical to the DCUC6 Hawkman, so we really don't have anything to say about it. It's big and beefy, befitting Hawkman's status as the heavy hitter of whatever team he's on. The chest has sculpted nipples, and the back has the ugliest wing-joint ever engineered. For all the specifics, see the old review. It's a good sculpt, but there's literally nothing worth saying about it at this point.

What is new and worth talking about is the head. In his first appearance, Carter Hall donned a helmet that didn't cover his face at all - it was more like a hawk headdress than a disguise. That changed after only a few months, but the new design wasn't a ton better. The bird head now fit halfway down over the face, and had weird little wings over the ears. Yes, that's basically the same mask he wears today - but the art styles of the time make it look horrific. They tried to make it realistic, so there are bird eyes staring out of the mask, and a complete beak - with tongue! - over his nose and mouth. It's truly hideous to behold, but the toy duplicates it well.

In 1945 Joe Kubert took over the art on Hawkman, and started playing with the design of the mask. In 1948 he did away with it altogether, giving Hawkman a standard superhero cowl. It's yellow, with a red bird symbol on the forehead, and really makes him look like nothing so much as a Mexican wrestler. The heads swap easily, and though it's a much more obscure look (the book was cancelled three months after it debuted), my Hawkman is going to be spending most of his time wearing the cowl rather than the creepy Eyes Wide Shut orgy-mask.

Since he comes with an extra head, Golden Age Hawkman really loses out on the extra accessories lottery. He comes with the same mace as the previous version, but no sword and no shield - so in other words, just a mace. It's a good choice, but it does leave him with a conspicuously unused loop on his belt.

The articulation is all the same, but the paint seems to be more "comicbooky" than the previous version - the reds, yellows and greens are all more vibrant, and his skin is brighter orange. He has no symbol on the center of his harness, just a red circle, and there is no dry-brushing to accentuate details on the wings.

Oh, and to bring things back to our Flash Gordon point from earlier, what colors did Vultan, king of the Hawkmen wear? Red, green and yellow, with a brown helmet and grey wings. Again we say: hmmm...

Hawkman comes with the left arm of the Series 19 build-a-figure, S.T.R.I.P.E. The bicep and shoulder are reused, but everything below the elbow is a new sculpt. Unlike the leg we reviewed last week, this limb gets some paint apps: blue panels on the fingers, and a big blue dot on the forearm shield. Looks nice!

Golden Age Hawkman is a complete waste of a figure. He was only thrown in this series to fit the "JSA" theme Series 19 has going on, but it's not like the previous Hawkman would look out of place in such a collection - the differences between the (good) modern mask and the (abominable) vintage one aren't that huge, and the yellow cowl isn't recognizable enough for anyone but die-hard Hawkman fans to have been crying out for it. There are zero redeeming qualities to this figure, and yet Jay Garrick, a JSAer we don't already have in a better form, gets shunted off to the online subscription service? Bad form! Unfortunately, if you want to complete the Build-A-Figure you're going to end up stuck with this zero in your collection.

-- 12/15/11

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