Robert Venditti and the Secrets of HAWKMAN

In time for HAWKMAN DAY!

Hawkman #1. Art by Bryan Hitch and Alex Sinclair

Tim Board and the fine folks at Hawkworld have decreed Nov. 10 to be Hawkman Day. Why? Because it’s considered the date in 1939 that Flash Comics debuted – featuring the first appearance of the Winged Avenger. (Same obviously with the Flash, but hey.)

Anyway, I spoke with current Hawkman writer Robert Venditti at New York Comic Con and Hawkman Day seemed like the perfect day to show you what he had to say. (You should also check out a segment from the interview that I posted in October that focused on Hawkman, the Atom and the Silver Age. Click here.)

Venditti had lots to say, covering Hawkman’s convoluted history, his relationship with Hawkgirl, the series of the past – and what’s to come.

Check it out — and click here for an EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW of Hawkman #6, out 11/14:

Dan Greenfield: Since you started writing Hawkman, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about the character?

Robert Venditti: What surprised me the most is that I didn’t really find him that confusing. I knew that was always the reputation for the character, that he had this massively confusing continuity. But as soon as I started sitting down to research him, within the first hour I sort of had this idea for the time-and-space angle, and once I applied that to everything, and I read, it all sort of made relatively easy sense to me. I don’t want to say all of it actually, but it wasn’t as confusing or dense or as convoluted as I thought it might be.

Dan: How much have you read?

Robert: A lot of the modern stuff, ’90s and forward, but the Golden Age stuff is really hard to find so I’ve read what’s been reprinted. I think the only one I haven’t been able to read at this point—I’m still trying to piece it together—is the Tony Isabella stuff from the ’80s. But other than that, I’ve read well over 200 Hawkman or Hawkman-related stories.

Hawkman’s first starring role on a cover. Art by Dennis Neville.

Dan: Here’s a question from Hawkworld. Tim Board asks: You have a great thing going with the friend network that Carter has, visiting people all over the world. How did you set that whole world-building up?  

Robert: Just thinking about Hawkman and who he is — if he is a scholar and he is an archaeologist, he wouldn’t be selling these artifacts for money, right? He should be in it for the preservation and the history of it. Scholars don’t make a lot of money, you know what I mean?

So, he lives off grants and consulting, and he flops on sofas where he needs to and over time he’s built up this network throughout his history of helping people. And the descendants of those people know about the legend of Carter Hall and what he did in the Napoleonic Wars, or in World War II, or in any of these kinds of scenarios, and they have this indebtedness to him and so they open their door to him. So, really it’s about putting him in different settings.

In each issue I want him to be a new character, and as much as possible, a non-English-speaking character, because we want to show that facility of language that he has, having lived in all of these cultures over his lives. Just the ability to know all these languages is, in its own way, its own super-power. It’s really powerful in a lot of ways as a fountain of knowledge.

Hawkman #2

Dan: There are all these cryptic references to how he helped these various people over the years. Are we going to see any of these adventures? Is that something that you’re going to explore?  

Robert: There are things we could explore — it’s a matter of when we get around to them, and we have so many stories that we want to tell with a character who’s been around, that we know of, for 10,000 years, reincarnating across the DC Universe. There’s so much material there, you start to see some of it with our visit to Thanagar or, coming up in Issue #8, our visit to Krypton, and all these kinds of things. So, there’s a lot we can pull on.

Dan: Because there have been so many versions of Hawkman, on a personal level, which are the stories or the concepts that resonate the most with you? Was it the Silver Age Katar Hol? Was it the Golden Age? Was it some of the stuff that Geoff Johns did? Whether it was before you started researching or afterward, what’s the stuff that really appeals to you?

Robert: If we’re gonna go on specific stories, the three-issue Hawkworld series by Tim Truman was something that was really staggering when I read it. Like, the level of creativity and the sheer number of concepts that were on every single page of that, was just amazing to me. But if we’re talking about Katar Hol vs. Carter Hall or anything like that, I really couldn’t pick one. There’s so much that I love about the Silver Age Katar Hol stuff, there’s so much that I love about the Geoff Johns Carter Hall stuff, the Golden Age Carter Hall stuff, the JSA stuff, there’s so much about it that I find appealing, which was why I wanted to try to bring it all together and not make readers pick this one or that one. You know, it’s all your Hawkman. That was very much borne out of my affinity for all of it.

Dan: And how many issues do you have planned out at this point? 

Robert: Oh, gosh. I’ve written up through #9 … I have outlines up through #12, and I know what the next story will be after that, which I guess would put us up at like #18. That’s really about as far in advance as I like to get, because you don’t know what’s gonna happen elsewhere in the DC Universe.

So, it’s not that I don’t know what happens beyond that, it’s that I don’t wanna get that much further ahead of myself. I wanna be able to adjust and adapt to what’s going on in the shared universe, which is part of the fun of working in a shared universe.

Dan: What’s been the biggest surprise to you as far as the reaction to the book?

Robert: It’s so humbling. This is a character that goes all the way back to the 1940s. When we think about the breadth of talent that’s worked on this book, for us to come to the book and to try something that I feel is risky with the time-and-space angle, but to have it be embraced on the level it has been by the readers, not just new ones but also long-time readers, and the critics and all those kinds of things, and the retailers that I talk to, it’s humbling I guess is the best way I could describe it. There’s nothing that we take for granted, but it’s so great to hear and it really fuels that energy that we have to sit down and work on it more. … Bryan (Hitch) is so skilled at what he does and he has such an affinity for the lore and the histories of all these characters. He brings so much of his own creativity and so much of his own spontaneity and his own vision to the art and the storytelling. It’s just so immensely fun to work on. I really couldn’t be happier with the work that we’re doing.

Art by Jim Cheung and Mark Morales

Dan: Are we going to see any of Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman? 

Robert: Eventually, yes. There are things that we have to work out in order to do that but also we very much like the idea that she’s in Justice League having her own adventures, and he’s in this series having his own adventures. They’re both wonderful characters, but they’ve always been together so I think it’s really great for them to be separate so we could see who they are as individuals before we see them together.

Dan: Give us one taste of what fans can expect from the book.

Robert: I guess what I’ll say is everything that we’re doing so far in this series is going to come back around, but we’re gonna bring it back around in a way that nobody is going to see coming.

MORE

— ROBERT VENDITTI: Why It’s Important HAWKMAN and the ATOM Are Back Together. Click here.

— 13 HAWKMAN COVERS to Make You Feel Good. Click here.

NOTE: This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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