Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Personal Favorites: Hawk and Dove #4

Feeling a bit uninspired today (more from lack of sleep than any sort of ennui), so I figured I'd take it easy while wallowing in nostalgia with another reminiscence of a personal favorite comic. Someday, these will include things other than comics, by the way. It's just that when I thought about cool moments that always bring a smile to my face, Hawk and Dove #4 (written by Karl and Barbara Kesel, penciled by Greg Guler, inked by Scott Hanna) is perennially high on the list.

It's a charming, light-hearted, self-contained comic, the kind that DC doesn't really do a great job of publishing anymore in its "mainstream" universe. Hawk and Dove come up against a group of bank robbers calling themselves "The Untouchables", because a) they dress up like 1920s gangsters and use tommy-guns, and b) they have devices in their belt buckles that let them become intangible. Because of this, robbing banks is ludicrously easy, even when super-heroes get involved (it's made pretty clear that the gang robs more for the thrill than the money.)

Hawk gets annoyed by the way the gang humiliates the duo with the ease of their escapes, and decides to track them down. He comes up with a clever plan (a rarity for Hawk--he's not stupid, but he's impulsive and direct and tends to like the simplicity of the frontal attack.) To wit, he looks up information on old speak-easies from the Prohibition era, and goes to each one attempting to change into his super-heroic identity (something they can only do when danger threatens.) When he suddenly finds himself transforming outside of a boarded-up building, he suspects supervillainy. He calls Dove and gets her out there to whomp some bad guy butt.

With the advantage of surprise on their side, the duo easily take out most of the gang. Only one of them even has the chance to put on her belt and grab her gun. Still, that's one woman with a machine gun against two heroes who aren't bullet-proof. She sprays machine-gun fire all over the warehouse in a lethal burst. While Dove distracts her by providing a convenient target, Hawk rips the belt off, leading to the awesome moment that gives me a warm, happy glow remembering it even now, twenty years later.

"You should have taken the gun!" the mock-gangster shouts, drawing a bead on Dove. Dove just stands there, fixing the woman with a cold stare.

"I can think of fourteen ways to keep you from firing that gun," she says. "Six are painful. Face facts. It's broad daylight, you can't turn intangible, in order to get out of here, you have to get past Hawk and me, and your gun is empty." Dove smirks. "You did know that, right? No bullets? I've been counting." (Because unlike the simple, direct Hawk, Dove develops super-perception and insight on how to use her environment tactically and strategically. She becomes, in essence, a master planner when she changes.)

There's a certain brilliant, quiet simplicity to a single-issue story with great dialogue and stellar art. You don't need game-changing metastories, epic world-shattering events, or shocking deaths. All you need is a good idea, well executed. And this issue had that in spades.

Dang, I miss that series.

1 comment:

Cap'n Neurotic said...

The Kesels' run on Hawk and Dove is one of my favorite things ever; I despair of ever seeing its like again.