Tuesday, May 3, 2016


"Racing Against Time"
WRITER: John Ostrander
PENCILS: Gary Kwapisz
INKS: Gary Kwapisz
COLORS:  Sam Parsons
LETTERS: Ken Lopez

SYNOPSIS:  The story opens with Waverider, journeying through the timestream.  The captions remind the reader of Waverider's personal history and mission.  This time, however, we are given a clearer explanation of how his powers work. "Waverider is one with the timestream. By slowing his ride through that stream, he merges with the periods he seeks. And merging the internalized timestream with someone in a given era allows him to experience their temporal flow and read it's path to the future."  This is show to us by Waverider disguising himself as a cop, being attacked by a mugger and him reading the mugger's future of being defeated by Batman.

The story then shows us other characters that Waverider is supposed to have checked already, including Superman, Batman, Deathstroke (who never actually is shown getting checked in any annuals) and the members of L.E.G.I.O.N. (the annual of which is generally accepted to take place after this story).

Waverider's quest has brought him to Chicago.  Her we see Hawkman (Katar Hol) and Hawkwoman (Shayera Thal) flying over the streets of Chicago in pursuit of the criminal known as Ricochet.  Ricochet bounces around from building to building screaming that he will not go back to jail. He continues bouncing back and forth, going faster and faster until he catches Katar from behind, proclaiming that he will kill the hero.  Shayera attempts to net Ricochet, but gets slammed into a building as Ricochet's momentum drags her along.  Ricochet's bouncing causes considerable damage to the city streets, as well as several police vehicles.  The Hawks decide to turn up the intensity of their efforts and knock Ricochet into a skylight using a mace.

Afterward, Alan Windsor discusses the Hawks' new jet packs. Shayera doesn't trust them, but Katar seems OK with them.  Windsor is eager to exchange technology with the Thanagarians, but Katar says it's still highly unlikely.  As he returns to his limo, Windsor calls an assistant to discuss the recent events with Ricochet and the Hawks, and reassures himself that he will gain access to the Thanagarian technology, especiallty anti-gravity metal.

Officer Andrea Lencioni gives the Hawks a lift back to their apartment, and the three have some small talk about weekend dinner plans. Andrea and Shayera discuss a fallen comrade, Jonsey, and we see a little connection to the sub-plots of the main book.  As the two alien cops head upstairs, we see Waverider begin to appear.  Upstairs Katar and Shayera discuss events with their ensemble cast, including Ambassador Darl Klus, who is stepping out for the evening to escort a politician's daughter to a formal dance.  As he leaves, Waverider takes on Klus's appearance.  He enter's Katar's bedroom, tells the Thanagarian that his and Shayera's fates are intertwined and begins the examine their future by making contact.

Waverider recounts the history of Katar up to that point.  Then he delves further, looking ahead to the year 2001.  By 2001, Thanagar has fallen, its slaves have risen up in revolt and taken the planet back from the oppressive Hawkpeople.  But Katar is still on Earth, still in Chicago.  He has married Mavis Trent, who is running for Congress, while becoming a chain-smoking lobbyist. Meanwhile, Shayera is still patrolling as superhero Hawkwoman, or so the TV informs us.  Katar and Mavis have a fight, during which Katar storms out and seeks solace in a local bar.  There he runs into Shayera and the two discuss their current lives. "Shay," as she's called, owns the establishment Katar is in. She mentions that he would have to give up his lobbying gig for Mavis to run for Congress without a conflict of interest and he insists he was going to give it up regardless.  Says he was never very effective.  They discuss urban renewal and social justice, which brings up the subject of Katar becoming Hawkman again. Shayera easily convinces him

The Hawks make their first public appearance together on television at Mavis's campaign rally.  Seeing them on TV enrages a woman by the name of Julie, who storms off.  She drives to a run-down church cathedral that was once known as the Crystal Temple. She goes in and tells her father that the one who killed him is back.  She comes across a large robot she addresses as Atilla, who apparently once housed her father's consciousness. She gets no response, but touch the robot's hand transfers Julie's mind into Atilla.  David, her boyfriend/husband, arrives just in time to realize what has happened.  Atilla says to attend to her human and that she will return after she has killed Hawkman, just before flying off.

Back in Chicago, Katar and Shayera are back to doing what they do best--kicking criminal ass.  But something has happened to Katar's rocket pack (remember in 1991 that Shayera didn't trust the things) and Shayera tells him to ditch it before it explodes. The two apprehend the crooks and take a walk down memory lane about Ricochet, whose knees gave out years ago.

At Shay's apartment, a leftover from her second marriage, the two don't get much downtime before Atilla begins wreaking biblical wrath on the city, hoping to draw out Hakwman.  They all engage in battle, with Atilla screaming that she will bring about her father's vision. Until this point the Hawks have thought it was the same Atilla, but this begins to clue them in that it might be Julie.  Katar and Atilla battle throughout Chicago until finally Shayera holds them at bay by threatening Julie's body and David.  At this point, Katar attempts to wrest control of the Atilla body away from Julie, which works. Julie is back in her own body, but Katar is trapped inside Atilla.  Katar inside Atilla begins to envision a world where he has put an end to war, to injustice, to starvation, with himself set up as ruler.  He sees that the world's heroes would oppose him, to the point of death if need be.  At his realization, Katar flies the Atilla body into space where he makes it self-destruct, only to thrown his mind back second before.  He has realized you can't impose freedom on people, otherwise it isn't freedom at all, but tyranny.

Back in the present, Waverider discusses a tiny portion of the possible future with Katar before flying off to continue his search.  Katar discusses things with Shayera about how far one would need to go to fix the world before it would be considered crossing the line.

Elsewhere, a man wanders alone in the desert. He has come seeking answers from God, but is dying of thirst.  However, he comes across what appears to be Atilla, buried in the sand.

MY THOUGHTS: Well, it's certainly different from most of the other parts of this crossover.  Ostrander writes this as though it were just another part of his overall Hawkworld opus.  I am torn on how I feel about this.  I like the idea that he lets this story fit in with the rest of the Hawkworld stories. It feel organic and flows, citing events and characters from Hawkworld stories to give a reader a fairly clear idea of when this story takes place in the overall scheme of things.  Serious fans get a real sense of belonging with this story and can adapt easily.  However, the opposite is also true.  New readers who only picked this up because it is part of Armageddon 2001 will quickly feel lost. The only easily identified characters are Katar and Shayera, as their backgrounds are somewhat given and the story allows readers to see they are essentially alien "buddy cops."  Otherwise, it is hard to adapt.

The story itself has a good plot.  The Hawks feel well-written and come across as having distinct personalities.  The buddy cop theme is easy to see and the overall plot could work well as a movie. "Two cops, their lives having gone different paths, must once again team up to bring in an old foe."  Simple enough premise.

Ostrander almost goes out of his way to keep Waverider to minimal usage in this story.  In most of the other stories, we see the heroes go down a darker path early on or about mid-way through the story.  This book doesn't even jump to 2001 until about 1/3 of the way in and Katar only experiences momentary thoughts of power toward the very end.  More pages at the first are used to explain Waverider than we have seen in a while, too.

The inclusion of L.E.G.I.O.N. members in the splash page is interesting since Waverider hasn't quite gotten to them yet (unless my release schedule is skewed).  Also, Deathstroke does not get the future treatment.  In fact, as we will see when we get to the New Titans annual, there really is a different approach to the 2001 story going on in there.

The art is pretty darn good.  Kwapisz draws the Hawks and Atilla in a way that makes you want to read their stories all day.  Granted, there are a few times when the action doesn't exactly feel very active, but the character models are always spot on.  Parsons does a good job with the colors, even on Waverider.

Speaking of Waverider, we get yet another variation on his appearance.  I'm starting to think the DC staff gave a rough sketch of the character and passed it around to the art teams and said something along the lines of "Do your best. Here's our idea, but nothing is final yet."  It's not that he doesn't look like Waverider. The colors are definitely there and he pops off the page. It's something in the nature of the energy flowing off him.  Can't quite put my finger on it, but it's something.  Similar to how he was so muted in the Justice League America annual, but different.

Overall, this is a fun Hawkworld story.  However, it's only a serviceable Armageddon 2001 chapter.  It honestly felt like Ostrander took one look at the crossover idea and said "No way in hell is my Hawkman even coming close to considering becoming Monarch. I have a character arc I'm working on here. To hell with this. Let's write our own story and throw this Waverider guy in."  But, for as bad as that sounds, I think Ostrander is pretty much right. Green Arrow's annual this year wasn't Armageddon related.  Why does the Hawkworld one have to be?

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