Robert Venditti has been a major part of DC’s murderer’s row of writers since the New 52 era, having steered the fate of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps for years. But as of late, Venditti has risen in the DC ranks to become one of the most innovative voices at DC Comics. Recently, Venditti and Bryan Hitch’s Hawkman has become a top of the pile read.
The new series cuts through the confusion of Hawkman’s complex history and presented a genre-bending, character-driven, cinematic look at Carter Hall and the multiple lives and worlds the titular hero has inhabited over the millennia. Along with superstar artist Bryan Hitch, Venditti has found a direction for Hawkman that makes the character one of DC’s A-list heroes. We had the pleasure to sit down with Mister Venditti to discuss Hawkman and some of the future plans at DC Comics for this timeless winged hero.
What is coming in up in Hawkman?
We have issue eight which is going to be on the stands this coming Wednesday the 16th. Throughout the series, Hawkman has been trying to uncover the mystery of his past lives. In the first issue, he realizes he didn’t just reincarnate across time as he previously thought. He reincarnated across space as well. He’s had past lives on Thanagar, and Rann, and Krypton. He’s been flipping through past lives and through time.
He’s trying to figure out the mystery of a group called the Deathbringers who are trying to destroy Earth because of him. So in issue eight, he goes to Krypton and encounters a past life known as Catar-Ol. Like Carter Hall, Catar-Ol was a historian. But he’s on Krypton and he witnesses the death of Krypton. As Carter, he remembers being Catar-Ol, so he now remembers the death of Krypton. This motivates Carter into a huge conflict in the first third of this story. He encounters the Deathbringers and now, having re-witnessed the death of Krypton, Carter now understands what could happen to Earth. Hawkman realizes he can never let this happen again.
Tell us about the Kryptonian Hawkman. What does he want? What stands in his way?
Now we’ve created the House of Ol, which is awesome. The Kryptonian Hawkman knows more than Carter Hall about the Death Bringers. He has been trying to craft a weapon to destroy the Deathbringers. That’s what Carter Hall thinks he’s going to encounter when he gets to Krypton. He thinks that’s what all the clues have been pointing to. He thinks he’s finally going to get this great weapon that’s going to destroy the Deathbringers. That’s what Carter wants on Krypton and that’s what Catar-Ol has been devoting his life to doing, to creating. How that situation ends up, readers will discover.
They’ll be some hiccups along the way that will lead Carter to some big realizations that are building towards a huge moment coming up in future issues that we’ve been planning since the moment he realized that he’s been reincarnated across time and space in issue one. We’ve been building towards this moment. Catar-Ol and Carter Hall’s experiences on Krypton will play a huge part in bringing that to pass.
Talk about working with Bryan Hitch. He seems like an unlikely but obvious choice for the character. He usually is on a core character but his cinematic style lends itself so well to Hawkman’s world of endless possibilities. What does Hitch bring to the table?
He brings everything. It’s not just Hawkman’s world, it’s Hawkman’s worlds. If you look at what we’ve done in this series, we’re going to be eight issues in, we’ve been to Gorilla City, the ruins of ancient Egypt, Dinosaur Island, Thanagar, the Microverse, a past life of Hawkman from the beginning of our universe, and now to Krypton. That’s eight issues. And Bryan Hitch has drawn all of that. He’s fleshed out all those cultures. He’s established the look of all those things. All while drawing, not just penciling but inking, lots of the pages and not missing an issue. He’s already finished with issue nine. It’s extraordinary to see him work.
The most important thing for a character like Hawkman, who I didn’t know a lot about except he had a confusing continuity, the most important thing about the series is that it be easily understandable. That people can grasp the changes we’re making and link the entire history of the character together. A huge part of what makes comic books understandable is the visual storytelling. For Bryan to be able to render all the action and all the character moments across so many different cultures and so many different locations and to do it in a way that’s so fluid and easy to read… it’s just extraordinary. I can’t think of a better person to work on this book and to build this story out. Our hope is we’re setting a template for what Hawkman is going to be going forward, a character that can reincarnate across time and space and fit in any storytelling possibility across the universe. We would love to see other storytellers pick up those threads.
Where’s Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman; can you catch up with Kendra and/or Shiera’s status in the Rebirth era?
Yeah, by far, the character we’ve talked about the most is Hawkwoman/Hawkgirl. We’ve had so many discussions about that character even before the first issue. Right now, obviously, Hawkgirl is in the main Justice League series that Scott Snyder is writing, and I’m in contact with Scott. We talk about what we’re doing and what our plans are on all those kinds of things. He’s got some exciting stuff over in that series.
For me, I felt it wasn’t a bad thing to have the characters separated. It would be one thing if Hawkgirl wasn’t anywhere else in the DC Universe because she’s a great character and she should be in a book somewhere. But with her being over in Justice League, it allows readers to see who she is without Hawkman around. Our series allows us to see who Hawkman is without Hawkgirl around, which allows us to establish who they are in their own adventures before bringing them together. Throughout their history they’ve always been together so let us establish them and let them stand on their own two feet.
Who is Hawkman to you? What attracts you to Hawkman and his worlds?
Hawkman to me, the thing I find most relatable about him, is that through all these lives he’s had he’s always been an archeologist. To me, it’s something that struck me from the very beginning, is that why would someone who can fly, who has these giant wings, why would he choose a profession that would necessitate being underground and in closed spaces, you know? What I settled on is that this sort of compulsion he’s had throughout his lives to explore, to discover, to dig into the past. It’s really been one big journey of his own self-discovery to understand who he is. I think that’s relatable to every single person. We all spend our lives discovering who we are and discovering our own identities. That’s what he’s been doing.
It’s a very relatable concept that lends itself, once you bring in the time and space angle, to so many storytelling possibilities. It can be earthbound, it can be cosmic, it can be present, it can be future, it can be sweeping and epic or it can be very personal. It can be all those things, and there are not a lot of characters that lend themselves to that sort of variety without it feeling forced. But Hawkman is one of them, and that makes it such a fun series to work on and we’re holding nothing back. We’re going to all those locations and doing all those things.
Talk about how you got the book. Did you pitch or did DC approach you?
DC asked me if I’d be interested in pitching for the character. I didn’t grow up on comics; I started reading them when I was in my mid-twenties. I didn’t know much about Hawkman except that he had a reputation for having a convoluted history and a sprawling continuity. Within my first hour of reading up on the character…I said to myself, “Oh, he reincarnates across time and space. That’s pretty cool.” I kept reading issues waiting for that to be said and it never gets said. So I thought, “That’s what we’re going to do. That’s how we’re going to tie this all together.” We’re going to say that the Thanagarian and the ancient Egyptian is the same person that just never realized they were reincarnations of the same person until now. Then we’re going to expand that which could mean Krypton. I put a pitch together based on those ideas and submitted it to DC, and they liked it.
Can you tease what’s coming up in Hawkman after the Krypton storyline?
Carter Hall is going to have a big revelation which brings him back to Earth with his confrontation with the Deathbringers. That’s going to be so much action, you know, I’m looking at some of the art that Bryan is turning in daily, and I’ve lost count at around ten thousand of the number of figures that are on these pages. It’s a huge story.
We have a moment that’s coming up that we’ve been waiting to do before we began writing the series. This is going to leave the character in a new place, and set up for new adventures. Like I said, there would be nothing we would want more than other creators to pick up these threads and pull on them and weave Hawkman into the DC Universe. The same way we’re saying Hawkman is part of the Kryptonian mythology and linked to the Superman mythology, and knowing Jor-El, and being a teacher to Supergirl, there’s so many opportunities for other writers and creators to weave the Hawkman mythology into the DCU. I think that will be how we get Hawkman back to a place that he deserves to be: a foundational character in the DC universe that is part of everything. He’ll be the living historical document of the DCU.
Can you share some conversations or ideas you shared with any of the DC higher ups about how they view the character’s place in the DCU?
I wouldn’t want to reveal too much, except to say that Hawkman is a character that they very much wanted to bring back. To try and elevate the character to what he means to the DCU. It’s definitely something DC is interested in, and there are some very significant plans for the character beyond just in my book that will take place at various points. I don’t know how much I can say. I’ll just leave it at that, there are definitely huge plans for the character in the DCU and everyone should watch out for that.
Hawkman #8 his stores on Jan. 16.