Your Guide to Infinite Crisis:

Hawkman #46

Having just concluded a two-part look at Hawkman’s history, including the storyline ending in Hawkman #45, the last issue before the title began to be affected by Infinite Crisis, we now turn to Hawkman #46, which ties into The Rann-Thanagar War.

The title Hawkman was wrapped up with its own extended storyline throughout the events of the various Countdown to Infinite Crisis mini-series, though Hawkman himself appeared not only in The Rann-Thanagar War but in the “Crisis of Conscience” storyline in JLA and the “Black Vengeance” storyline in JSA. The character’s apparently mutually incompatible appearances in no less than four books was one of the major continuity problems of the lead-up to Infinite Crisis. One could jive the JLA appearances with those in JSA, but the character had been replaced by someone else in Hawkman and was off in outer space in The Rann-Thanagar War — hardly compatible storylines.

The long-running storyline in Hawkman concluded in #45, cover-dated December 2005.Hawkman #46 was advertised as a prologue to The Rann-Thanagar War, at last making it clear that the previous storyline in Hawkman had occurred prior to that series. As it turned out, this was only the beginning of what the issue would involve or even resolve.

The issue would also feature the debut of the title’s new cover artist: Adam Kubert, one of Marvel’s greatest illustrators until DC signed him to an exclusive contract earlier in 2005. The cover of Hawkman #46 would be the creator’s first work for DC since switching from exclusively Marvel to exclusively DC. As it turned out, DC was hardly wasting a major creator on a secondary title; instead, the company was adding attention to a major issue.

Surprisingly, the issue featured an unannounced OMAC appearance, advertised neither in the issue’s solicitations nor on its cover. This was obviously surprising in terms of continuity, since OMAC appearances didn’t start until Countdown to Infinite Crisis, and The Rann-Thanagar War was previously thought to be simultaneous with The OMAC Project. More surprisingly, this was obviously a rather late OMAC appearance: the Hawks are not only shown as already familiar with the OMACs, but know that they’re human underneath and that Batman was responsible for the creation of Brother Eye, the OMACs’ controller. The JSA’s Dr. Mid-Nite says that the OMAC nanomachines probably come from vaccinations, and he uses an E.M.P. (electro-magnetic pulse) generator to rid someone of the OMAC nanomachines, just as Batman does on a grander scale in The OMAC Project #6. While the clever Dr. Mid-Nite may simply be guessing, unaware of developments in The OMAC Project, this only added to the sense of the lateness of this OMAC appearance.

This meant that the story, at bare minimum, had to occur after JSA #76, which occurred around the end of The OMAC Project #4 and the beginning of The OMAC Project #5 (and which is discussed in that section). In that issue, Hawkman is among the Justice Society members who confront an OMAC, and the fact that they don’t know that the OMACs have people inside is a point in the issue. In fact, Superman and Batman already knew: inAdventures of Superman #643, occurring during The OMAC Project #4, Superman learns that the OMACs have people inside and confronts Batman, who already knows. But this knowledge hadn’t yet spread to the general super-hero community.

Placing the debut of The Rann-Thanagar War around The OMAC Project #5 suddenly made it possible to reconcile Hawkman’s appearances in JSA and JLA. The previous storyline inHawkman, in which he was replaced by The Golden Eagle, must have concluded prior to any of these events. Hawkman then appeared in JSA and JLA. The JLA storyline concluded not long before Infinite Crisis, meaning that the whole of The Rann-Thanagar War probably occurred during The OMAC Project #6. This may have necessitated a radical compression of the timetable of The Rann-Thanagar War, but it solved numerous continuity problems.

But the importance of Hawkman #46 wasn’t limited to an OMAC appearance, serving as prologue to The Rann-Thanagar War, and sorting out one of the major continuity issues ofCountdown to Infinite Crisis. The issue also contained a flashback that followed up onIdentity Crisis that featured the first appearance of the Atom since Identity Crisis #7.

Pretty important stuff for the fourty-seventh issue of a largely ignored title, but such were the unexpected consequences of the plethora of Infinite Crisis tie-ins.

Hawkman #46: “Sins of the Past, Present and Future”

Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti script; Ron Randall & Art Thibert pencils; Ron Randall & Walden Wong inks; Adam Kubert cover; cover-dated January 2006

The cover to Hawkman #46, sans title and indicia.

In case, there were any doubts as to when this story takes place in relation to The Rann-Thanagar War #1, a caption at the top of the first place notes explicitly that the story occurs prior to that mini-series.

The accompanying images show the Brother Eye satellite in orbit, looking down as a hurricane bears down on St. Roch. It’s a reference to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, on which St. Roch is based, just a few months prior to this issue’s publication.New Orleans was flooded, the entire U.S. Gulf Coast became flooded with refugees, and the slow governmental response to this natural disaster as people watched abandoned survivors begging for food and water on the TV became a national disgrace and controversy. Hawkman failing to make some reference to this, given its setting, would not only have been unlikely but might even have been considered offensive.

That said, the refernce isn’t too deep — there’s more than enough to preoccupy the issue already. Hawkman and Hawkgirl battle the half-animal, half-human minions of Satana, who has decided to use the hurricane as an opportunity for crime. Detective Grubs of the St. Roch police department tells his men to hold back while one of the half-animal minions grabs a jiggly woman as a hostage. No sooner does he give this order than Brother Eye activates him as an OMAC.

As the OMAC strikes the half-animal minion holding the hostage, releasing her, Hawkgirl notes that “someone in the crowd’s been OMACtivated” — indicating familiarity with the OMACs. Hawkman’s response makes it clear that St. Roch hasn’t seen an OMAC appearance previously. Hawkgirl adds a resentful comment towards Batman as creator of Brother Eye. Hawkman asks her if she’s read the JSA’s files on the OMACs, suggesting strongly that this issue takes place after JSA #76, which featured an OMAC appearance. She says she has and that she knows the OMACs can adapt to specific heroes. She adds that she’s disgusted how the OMAC nanomachines were injected into “little kids getting flue shots.” Clearly, the Hawks are very familiar with the whole of The OMAC Project, strongly suggesting that this story occurs after Batman communicated with all heroes during The OMAC Project #6.

As the Hawks engage the OMAC, it sprouts demonic-looking wings and takes the fight into the air. After exchanging a few blows, they lure it into the hurricane, hoping it will disrupt Brother Eye’s satellite signal. It does, and the OMAC reverts to his human form. Hawkman catches him before he hits the ground, and Hawkgirl suggests that they take him to the JSA’s Doctor Mid-Night “so we can finally test one of these OMACs up close.” Hawkman says he’ll use the teleporting Cloak of Cagliostro to get there faster.

Ten minutes later, in the JSA’s New York headquarters, Detective Grubs is demanding answers, wondering how he got there as well as how Hawkman returned from the dead (as shown in the preceding issue). When Doctor Mid-Nite briefly explains Brother Eye and the OMACs to the cop, he suggests that Grubs probably received the nanomachines “when you were received a vaccination as a child.” This doesn’t make sense, given that Grubs is an adult and Brother Eye hasn’t been operating for the necessary two decades or so. A better explanation for the fact that almost all OMACs are adults was offered in Superman #222, where a flu shot was blamed as opposed to a childhood vaccination.

As Dr. Mid-Night tends to Grubs, Hawkman and Hawkgirl leave the room and see an old photo on the wall showing the Atom on Hawkman’s shoulders, a reference to their special connection reflecting the days when they shared the title The Atom and Hawkman. Kendra asks if Carter’s heard from the Atom, especially since his wife Jean Loring escaped from Arkham Asylum (where he left her in Identity Crisis #7). Hawkman says that he hasn’t heard a thing, but a flashback soon shows him to be lying.

In the flashback, said to have taken place “several weeks” before, Hawkman is reading in a newspaper about how a jury found Jean Loring guilty of first-degree murder but how she was placed into Arkham at the last minute. The phone rings, and Carter picks it up. The Atom, having traveled through the phone lines, pops out of the earpiece. Carter expresses his sympathies and says that the Justice League is looking for him.

Ray Palmer, dressed in his Atom uniform, says that “everything has changed” — not just for Ralph Dibny (the Elongated Man, whose wife was killed in Identity Crisis), Tim Drake (Robin, whose father was killed in Identity Crisis), and himself. He warns Carter that “the backlash from this is going to rip through everyone’s lives.” Carter tries to say that it’s all over, but Ray argues his case. “In looking for Sue’s killer,” he says, “we shook down all the major lunatics and criminals we could, an in the end, it turns out to be one of our own.” He predicts that “more good people are going to die as a result.” And he adds that Bruce will inevitably learn how he was mindwiped and that no one knows how Bruce will react.

As Carter turns the subject back to Ray himself, the Atom explains that he’s going away for a while and just wanted to say goodbye. Ray makes Carter promise not to tell about this meeting, and Carter agrees. The Atom leaves through the phone by which he entered, leaving Carter alone.

Ray saying that he’s going away strongly suggests that this flashback occurs following the final, accelerated pages of Identity Crisis #7, after to the Atom shrinking down and disappearing — a thesis echoed by Carter’s narration, which echoes that when Ray shrinks down in Identity Crisis #7. One might argue that the flashback occurs prior to the final Ray Palmer sequence in Identity Crisis #7 except that Carter refers to how the Justice League is looking for the Atom, suggesting that he has already disappeared.

Back in the present, Hawkgirl finds Hawkman’s mind distracted by his memories. They then hear a crash and rush back to the lab, where Grubs has become an OMAC again and is busy attacking Doctor Mid-Nite. Hawkman bashes the OMAC on the head, but it grows maces for arms. While Hawkgirl keeps the OMAC busy, Dr. Mid-Nite attaches a device to its back, making it transform back into Grubs. Dr. Mid-Nite explains that the device was a “localized E.M.P.” — a miniature version of the device Batman used in The OMAC Project #6 to shut down scores of OMACs. As Grubs recovers, he again wonders what has happened.

It’s not clear whether Mid-Nite has thought of this technique independently from Batman or is copying Batman’s strategy, though it’s worth noting that this technique wasn’t supposed to work again after Batman’s employment of it. Given the startling level of knowledge the heroes have about the OMACs, however, it’s best to understand this story as occurring between the mass confrontation with the OMACs in The OMAC Project #6 and that issue’s final page, in which it reveals Wonder Woman’s killing of Maxwell Lord to the world, which occurred just prior to Infinite Crisis#1.

The issue then takes a sudden turn, showing the planet Rann, transported to the Polaris system by Sh’ri Valkyr, a Thanagarian belonging to the Seven Devils cult — as seen in the 2004-2005 Adam Strange mini-series. We’re shown Thanagarian refugees housed on the planet Rann and told that followers of the Seven Devils cult are among these refugees.

Sardath tells Adam Strange that he’s intercepted a Psion transmission, presumably suggesting an alliance with the Thanagarians. The alliance between Rann and Thanagar is falling apart, and Sardath knows a war to be coming. Adam Strange flies off, saying that he’ll use the Zeta Beam to travel to Earth to bring back “some assistance” — which he know means the Hawks.

In St. Roch’s Stonechat Museum on the same night that the Hawks battled the OMAC, Hawkgirl says that she’s happy they opened the skylight to “air this stinky place out.” Hawkman finds a package lying around and the two recall their bad luck with packages recently, references the one that sent them the Manticore (as seen in Hawkman#34). Opening the package, Hawkman finds a golden bird that flies off and bursts into flames — a phoenix. The Hawks take off after it, battling it, and Hawkman speculates that Fadeaway Man sent it. He wonders if he should have simply killed the villain, a reference to the recently concluded storyline in Hawkman. But the phoenix disappears, leaving the Hawks to search for it.

Meanwhile, Fadeaway Man hides on the roof of the Stonechat Museum and watches the Hawks take off after the flaming bird. He leaps through the skylight and reclaims his Cloak of Cagliostro, promising vengeance on the Hawks. Presumably, this was done to explain why Hawkman did not possess the powerful teleportation device in the pages of The Rann-Thanagar War.

The story ends there, save a panel showing Thanagarians and Rannians firing on one another that serves as a tease for Hawkman #47-49, a three-part follow-up to The Rann-Thanagar War.

It’s a bit of a patchwork issue, with the OMAC, the Atom, Adam Strange, and Fadeaway Man all crammed together along with an appearance by Doctor Mid-Nite as part of the OMAC story thread. However cramped the issue may feel, it does cover a stellar amount of ground, establishing how The Rann-Thanagar War ties into Hawkman’s continuity and even featuring a major appearance by the Atom along the way.

Chronologically, the next appearance of Hawkman and Hawkgirl is in The Rann-Thanagar War #1. In fact, that issue continues directly from this one, opening with the Hawks relocating the phoenix. Adam Strange appears via Zeta Beam and helps out. Adam Strange then updates them on the events shown in his recent mini-series, as well as what’s happened subsequently. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves — though it should be pointed out that, while the two issues are remarkably well-connected, Hawkman makes no reference to the missing Cloak of Cagliostro, perhaps simply forgetting about it in the confusion and urgency to get to Rann.

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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