Your Guide to Infinite Crisis:

“Coalition in Crisis”

With Hawkman #46, which ended with Hawkman and Hawkgirl contacted by Adam Strange, the Hawks’ narrative met up with that of The Rann Thanagar War (a mini-series that had already concluded at that point). The following three issues, numbers 47-49, would tell a three-part storyline, billed as a sequel to that successful mini-series.

The storyline would even be called “Coalition in Crisis,” echoing the same word that had helped make Infinite Crisis and the “Crisis of Conscience” storyline in JLA such a success.

Further hyping the storyline was the addition of Adam Kubert as cover artist. Adam Kubert, along with his brother Andy, had been Marvel Comics mainstays for years, illustrating many of that company’s top projects in recent years. The news, months earlier, that they had signed an exclusive contract with DC shocked many. While DC kept the Kubert brothers’ future projects under wraps, Adam Kubert’s work on Hawkman covers helped elevate the series at a time when fans were clamoring for his work.

While not entirely satisfying as a sequel to The Rann Thanagar War, the storyline was enjoyable and did advance the Hawks’ relationship significantly. Of course, all of this was somewhat academic, since Hawkman was scheduled to change its title to Hawkgirl with issue #50, which marked the debut of a new creative team as well as the augment of “One Year Later” — and a new status quo for the title and its characters, one in which the developments of “Coalition in Crisis” weren’t played out.

Hawkman #47: ”Coalition in Crisis, Part One”

Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti script; Chris Batista pencils; Cam Smith inks; Adam Kubert cover; cover-dated February 2006

The storyline opens with a brief summary of The Rann-Thanagar War. The narration notes that the Psions of Vega, the Tamaraneans, the Durlans, and the Citadel have all allied with Thanagar, whose leader has been seduced by Blackfire, a.k.a. Queen Komand’r of Tamaran.

As the summary ends, a double-page slash image shows Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Adam Strange facing a horde of Thanagarians and their allies, the Gordanians. Hawkman and Hawkgirl sport translucent blue armor that hovers over their skin, obviously reflecting Adam Strange’s outfit, suggesting that they are using Rannian technology. Hawkman further wields a glowing energy mace of some sort.

The battle breaks out, and Hawkman tears into hordes of Gordanians. He drops a canister and flies away, incinerating thousands of his foes — and shocking the Thanagarians, who fall back in response. Even Hawkgirl seems surprised.

The three fly south towards the Rannian city of Kamorak, which Adam Strange reports is about to face an assault by the Psions and Tamaraneans. Hawkgirl asks about the strange storm in outer space, referring the rift that developed in the conclusion of The Rann-Thanagar War. Adam Strange says that the rift is expanding, but the three decide to concentrate on Rann.

Elsewhere on Rann, a Thanagarian commander tosses a Rannian soldier off a cliff overlooking a Rannian base. The Thanagarian, his axe dripping with blood, demands the return of Thanagarian prisoners and seems particularly bloodthirsty. He leads his troupe of Thanagarians towards the base below, and a fierce battle breaks out. We see many killed, including beheadings, a spear through a Rannian chest, and the Thanagarian commander cutting a man in two. In one panel, a strange man sits calmly in grey robes amidst the chaos around him.

The three heroes approach the scene. Hawkman and Hawkgirl intervene to stop the Thanagrians, but the Thanagarians condemn Hawkman and call Hawkgirl an “Earth whore.” She doesn’t take well to this and begins firing with her gun. A Thanagarian hits her head from behind, however.

Meanwhile, Adam Strange has been trying to handle the Rannian side of the battle. The Thanagarian commander attacks him, however. Hawkman challenges him, and the two fight. The Thanagarian commander says that he has been dreaming of fighting Hawkman since hearing that the hero had arrived on Rann, and makes a few other comments suggesting that he knows Hawkman somehow. As the two fight, they argue over Thanagarian politics, with Hawkman arguing that the High Mol, or Thanagarian ruler, is mad and that Thanagar’s allies will turn on her.

The Thanagarian commander seemingly wins the battle and poises to kill Hawkman, who he calls “Carter.” Taking off his helmet, the Thanagarian commander is revealed to be none other than Golden Eagle, the former young hero who recently returned to take Hawkman’s place. He was finally defeated in Hawkman #45, which saw Golden Eagle revealed to be one Ch’al Andar, whose father, Fel Andar, was in a Thanagarian prison. Golden Eagle blamed Hawkman for Fel Andar’s disgrace. Hawkman defeated the villain, however, and sent him back to Thanagar to be imprisoned along with his father. Golden Eagle, now with a crude-looking artificial eye, explains that his ship entered the Polaris system just as the Omega Beam moved Rann and thus began tearing Thanagar apart (which occurred in Adam Strange#8, shortly before The Rann-Thanagar War #1). Golden Eagle says that he joined the effort to save Thanagar, but never found his father.

The man in grey robes, seen briefly earlier, now approaches and removes his hood. It’s Fel Andar, Golden Eagle’s father. Fel Andar has apparently found religion, however — and not of the Thanagarian blood cult variety. He advocates peace, condemns violence in general, and condemns the Thanagarian attempt to take Rann in particular. His son, Ch’al Andar, can’t believe that his father would wish to spare Hawkman. Fel Andar says that he made the wrong choices as a young man and brought on his own suffering. He continues, pointing out that the Seven Gods of Thanagar also include Haani, the goddess of love, and Falomer, a god of wisdom. He cites the first High Mor, a slave named Kalmoran who escaped bondage. It’s a nice turn on Thanagar’s typically violent religion, showing that Thanagarian history isn’t so simple.

Then another attack comes — this time from Durlan bio-ships. The three heroes leap into action. Hawkgirl openly contemplates whether Carter should have killed Golden Eagle on Earth, but Carter says that he’s put it behind him and encourages her to focus on the battle. Hawkman puts his words into action, slicing through a Durlan ship. When Hawkgirl gets stuck to a tentacle of a Durlan ship, Hawkman saves her, cutting off the tentacle.

She’s still stuck to it, however, and it’s now that she begins to feel the horror of war, begging Hawkman to do something lest she die there, on what is to her an alien planet. Hawkman pulls her free. She thanks him, calling him handsome. He replies with a smile, calling her beautiful before they leap back into action.

Adam Strange leads the Rannians and Thanagarians to the skies. Golden Eagle says that he’s still loyal to Thanagar, but apparently now sees this loyalty as Hawkman does (i.e. that the High Mor has been corrupted) and aids Adam Strange.

The skies are filled with Durlan ships, Rannians, and Thanagarians. Hawkman downs another Durlan ship, beating it savagely with his energy mace. Then he sees yet another army approaching.

It’s Blackfire, at the lead of a full Thanagarian army along with some more of its allies.

It’s a good issue, all in all, packed with some solid fight scenes. Not the usual super-hero fights, these scenes actually do a good job of beginning to illustrate the horror of this interstellar war, which is pretty gritty stuff.

The appearance of Golden Eagle is predictable, but can be seen two ways. On the one hand, the character’s return comes only two months after he was defeated at the end of a long storyline. It would be hard to blame readers for being fatigued with the character. On the other hand, in terms of continuity, the entire mini-series The Rann-Thanagar War occurred between those two appearances, and Golden Eagle’s return was pretty obvious, given that Hawkman shipped him off to Thanagar in issue #45. While Fel Andar’s appearance seems radically convenient, his conversion to peace, and his positive influence over his angry son, is certainly both welcome and surprising.

In sum, then, it’s an enjoyable issue, even if it doesn’t advance the overall plot all that much.

Hawkman #48: ”Coalition in Crisis, Part Two”

Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti script; Chris Batista pencils; Cam Smith inks; Adam Kubert cover; cover-dated March 2006

As with the previous issue, this one opens with a brief narrative recap — although here, that’s reduced to noting that the rift is still out there in space, threatening to make the war on the surface of Rann rather moot.

On Rann, Blackfire talks with Adam Strange and the Hawks, demanding their surrender, backed up by scores of soldiers. Of course, the heroes refuse. Fel Andar pleads with her Thanagarian soldiers to turn against her, but she blasts him. Golden Eagle cradles his apparently dead body, then lashes out at Blackfire.

Shooting begins, and Hawkman asks Adam Strange if he can beam them all out of there. He says he can’t, so Hawkman tells him to go get help. Adam Strange complies, dematerializing.

Blackfire blasts Golden Eagle away, then gets tackled by Hawkman, who confronts her about betraying him duringThe Rann-Thanagar War. She’s defiant and flees, but is intercepted by Hawkgirl, Golden Eagle, and then Hawkman before getting away.

The Hawks are thus left to confront the Thanagarians while Golden Eagle pursues a fleeing Blackfire. Hawkman’s already getting impatient for Adam Strange to return. Just then, he does — along with a troop of Rannians and Green Lanterns Kilowog and Kyle Rayner, who throws a shield of green energy around Hawkman, saving him from enemy fire.

The Hawks then move to intervene in Golden Eagle’s fight with Blackfire, who openly says that she’ll “exterminate” the Thanagarians when she’s done using them. She gets away, however, taking off in her spaceship. Below, the Green Lanterns have routed Blackfire’s army, which is now in retreat. Adam Strange informs Hawkman that Captain Comet and Starman have helped the Rannians repel the attack on Kamorak, but it’s a temporary win. As the three heroes hover and talk, Golden Eagle cradles his dead father below.

Adam and the Hawks arrive in Kamorak, which looks like a war zone: the futuristic buildings are blown out, and the silhouette of barbed wire breaks the skyline. Adam recommends that the Hawks change their clothes if they go into the city, lest they be mistaken for “Thanagarian insurgents.”

The Hawks inquire with a Rannian soldier as to the state of things, and he says that the power is unreliable, food has become scarce, and many people are eating their pets to survive. He continues, “when the enemy is notbombing us, the lines for fresh water stretch for nearly a mile in all directions.” Many, seeing the sky glowing from the rift in space, are predicting the end of the universe.

This is tough stuff.

Hawkgirl asks for a shower, explaining that she has “chunks of Psion brain matter in my hair.” Adam Strange asks if he can get them anything, but the Hawks just want to know where they can get a drink after the battles. Adam recommends a hotel with a bar, and they hope it’s still standing.

It is, as it turns out. The Hawks are there in other outfits, exactly as Adam recommended. Among the drinking soldiers is one without legs and drinking heavily.

Hawkman says that the Rannian wine reminds him of a wine he had in 1679, recalling their past lives together — which she doesn’t remember well. It’s clear that most of these lives have involved warfare of some sort. They decide to take the wine with them and go for a walk of the bombed-out landscape.

On New Thanagar, restored by the Green Lanterns during The Rann-Thanagar War, Golden Eagle lands a ship and takes his father’s corpse, wrapped like a mummy, to a spring. As he lays his father on the ground, he vows to keep Thanagar peaceful.

Back in Kamorak, the Hawks waks through a landscape that looks like a not-too-futuristic version of Dresden during World War II. Buildings are shattered. Rubble and craters clutter the street. Hawkgirl is reminded of their actions with the JSA during the “Black Reign” storyline in that title, which saw the Justice Society invade Kahndaq to stop Black Adam, only to be opposed by that nation’s people. Hawkman wonders if the heroes are being proactive enough.

She suggests that Batman can’t entirely be blamed for the OMACs. Carter asks what she’s getting at, and she only replies, “you know.” It’s a clear enough reference to how Hawkman participated in the mindwiping of Batman, precipitating his creation of Brother I. Carter only says that the past cannot be changed.

As they talk, they see a family in a bombed-out ruin. A little girl with a bandage on her face stares back at Carter. There’s only one parent in sight.

Then two Durlan bio-ships tear through the air. The Hawks lead the civilian family to a nearby shelter, then reveal their uniforms and take to the sky. The Durlan ships are just raining fire down upon the city, leaving already blown-out buildings in flame.

Hawkman tells Hawkgirl to follow his lead and to take out the ships’ eyes with her grenades. As he slices off the ship’s tentacles, she does exactly that. The second ship crashes into the first, exploding with strange Durlan body parts. Hawkman then orders her below to help those on the ground, and she snaps back at his giving her “obvious orders!”

As a Rannian ship pours water on the burning buildings, he Hawks lower civilians to the ground. Hawkman breaks through a window and rescues a couple from a fire. Outside, the Rannian soldiers are attempting the arrest Hawkgirl, who they think is a spy. Hawkman responds by putting one Rannian in a headlock, but the timely appearance of Adam Strange settles things. He thanks them, saying those Durlan ships had been “bombing the city every night for weeks.” Apparently, the Rannians couldn’t stop the ships by themselves.

Hawkgirl again asks about the rift, which Adam reports is growing exponentially and may consume the sun Polaris within days. As for Blackfire, her troops seem to be massing for an attack nonetheless. Adam says that he’s off to Ranagar to visit his family and suggests that the Hawks enjoy themselves before what he expects will be “the final conflict.”

Hawkgirl teasingly says that she “could think of a few things.”

We next cut to some shots of their equipment and clothes, strewn about an apartment. Then we see the two of them, naked and asleep in bed together.

Ever since Hawkman’s return, his relationship with Hawkgirl has been one of resisted romance. Unable to remember their past lives together as he did, Hawkgirl confronted the reality of her unremembered past with him before deciding against a relationship. It seemed as if he had accepted this. Then, in Hawkman #45, the two went for a romantic dinner. Now, it seems that their engagement in the Rann-Thanagar War has bound them together, fused by the blood that had fueled so many of their past incarnations. On the eve of destruction, making love doesn’t seem so bad.

This is a solidly good issue, filled with the horror of war, however rendered in a fun, slightly cartoony fashion. This is the way outer space wars should be done: with blood, a sense of the weight of civilian casualties, and with characters responding to the psychological reality of impending doom, just as they do in wars on Earth. In this case, these responses mean all the more because they change a longstanding relationship in the title. Given this, if the death of Fel Andar and both fight scenes seem a little rushed, it’s a small price to pay.

Hawkman #49: ”Coalition in Crisis, Part Three”

Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti script; Chris Batista pencils; Cam Smith inks; Adam Kubert cover; cover-dated April 2006

Like the preceding two chapters, the final issue of the storyline opens with a brief narrative summary. It notes that the city of Kamorak is under evacuation (the first time this is mentioned) while Hawkman and Hawkgirl “share what may be their final moments.”

Hawkgirl wakes up in bed alone and naked. When she calls out to Carter, he appears with a Rannian breakfast. He notes that the city is being evacuated and that he found the food abandoned since the hotel staff have already left. This is not only the first reference to the evacuation in the narrative proper, but the first confirmation that the Hawks are in a hotel — presumably, the hotel that Adam recommended last issue.

Hawkgirl asks if she can shower, but Hawkman informs her that the water’s been shut off in most of the city. She regrets going into battle smelly and longs for home, for sleep in her own bed, for ice cream, cheeseburgers, and fries. He says that he’s not homesick because she’s there, which she notes is his soft side, a nice change from his recent violence. She notes that she’s “slept three hours in two or maybe three weeks,” giving us some idea of the timing of the overall Rann-Thanagar War. When Hawkman comes onto her again, she tells him not to get “greedy” and says that she needs her “beauty rest.”

It’s a nice scene, well-scripted and well-illustrated. Rather than Hawkgirl regret the sex in the morning, it makes a future between the two seem possible, especially given Hawkman’s niceness and the notion that he used to be that way more often, specifically in past lives when the two were together.

What follows is another narrated summary — this time of current events. We’re shown Adam Strange and the two Green Lanterns battling above Rann. The Omega Men, Captain Comet, and Prince Gavyn (a.k.a. Starman) also fight with Rann. As Adam Strange fights above Rann, he’s about to be hit by a spaceship when the Hawks appear and smash the ship.

Adam Strange says that the battle’s not going well. He says that Vril Dox has been monitoring the space rift, which continues to grow. He also says that he “tried to contact the J.L.A. Watchtower and all that came back was static” — a reference to how the Watchtower was destroyed in JLA #119.

Then the three are attacked by Gordanian shredders — a laser-like web dragged by several ships. Touching the net means disruption of the body’s neurons and “instant brain death.” The three slip through the web and attack the anchor ships. At one point, Hawkman is sent hurtling backwards, and Hawkgirl catches him, preventing him from hitting the net. When a group of Thanagarians attack, the three lead them into the web. Apparently, the Thanagarians aren’t as maneuverable, because they get sliced to pieces while the three all fly through, seemingly effortlessly. Hawkman destroys another Gordanian ship, but their victory is short-lived: another ship (which we later find out belongs to the Psions) deploys a bizarre bomb, apparently capable of destroying Rann entirely.

Hawkman swings his mace, telling the others to stay back. Hawkgirl sees that he’s going to sacrifice himself but insists on coming along. The Hawks board the bomb, which is on a weird station, as it begins to enter Rann’s atmosphere. As the heat begins to get to them, Hawkman pulls out a Zeta Beam device and attaches it to the platform. As the Hawks fly off, the bomb teleports back onto the Psion ship and explodes.

No sooner has Hawkgirl pointed out that the Psions probably have more such bombs than a slew of just such bombs are seen approaching. The two Green Lanterns — Kilowog and Kyle Rayner — catch the bombs in giant green catcher’s mitts, then toss them back at the Psion ships, which promptly explode.

The scene then changes to Vril Dox’s ship, where the whole gang has assembled: Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Adam Strange, Kyle Rayner, Kilowog, Captain Comet, Starman, and Vril Dox himself. Dox complains that the Guardians still have a policy of non-interference towards the Polaris system (as seen in The Rann-Thanagar War), though Kyle and Kilowog are just as willing as ever to defy the Guardians on this matter.

Dox then updates the whole crew on the rift, which he says continues to expand. Others comment on how Thanagar and its allies continue the war despite the rift. Carter vows to continue fighting the Thanagarians despite the fact that the Polaris system would be destroyed anyway. After Kendra questions him, he gets to deliver a speech to all assembled about how they must continue to fight as warriors, even if they die. He tells Kendra that they won’t be resurrected this time if they die, and she’s about to tell him that she loves him when an explosion interrupts them.

It’s the Tamaraneans, and they’re striking Dox’s ship. All seem to turn to Hawkman for a plan, and his response is to lead them into battle. As the whole crew braves a sea of blasts from a fleet of various Thanagarian-allied ships, Hawkan takes a moment to tell Kendra that he’ll always love her. “I know,” she says, simply.

On the last page, we see various incarnations of Hawkman and Hawkgirl through the pages, juxtaposed against the background of the rift in space. They go from a hawk-headed couple to the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The string of Hawk couples then skip their Silver Age incarnations to go to a rather Thanagarian version, perhaps representing the characters’ Hawkworld years. The line of four couples terminates in the Hawkman and Hawkgirl of the present.

Such final splash pages were typical of the final issues of DC’s titles before “One Year Later,” though exactly what they signify in terms of narrative was never clear. The various incarnations of the Hawks suggests both the characters’ long history, as they now reach a turning point, and the many Hawks of the various parallel worlds that Alexander Luthor would manipulate during Infinite Crisis.

And that’s how “Coalition in Crisis” ends: with the Rann-Thanagar War continuing, reaching a fever pitch even as the rift in space continues to grow.

It’s a solid issue, even if — as with the previous two issues — the fight scenes seem a bit convenient and rushed. The sudden romantic relationship between Hawkman and Hawkgirl might seem a bit rushed under the circumstances, but it certainly doesn’t feel forced — and easily could have. The way the overall group defers to Hawkman, like Hawkman’s defense of a seemingly helpless Rann in the previous issue, seems a rather obvious consequence of this sequel to The Rann-Thanagar War occurring in Hawkman’s title, but it doesn’t ruin the story. Even Hawkman’s somewhat hackneyed speech at the end doesn’t ruin the fun.

Which is, after all, what this is: great cosmic warfare, wedded to romantic characters.

Read the Rest

“Your Guide to Infinite Crisis” attempts to spell out and outline the whole of this sprawling, complicated crossover. It has several other installments, organized by the narrative thread under discussion:

The OMAC Project

Day of Vengeance

Villains United

The Rann-Thanagar War

The Return of Donna Troy

Crisis of Conscience

PowerTrip

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

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