The New 52: Hawk and Dove #1

Comments (13) Comic Books, Reviews

Because I’m an incredibly mature young man, this review was going to consist of nothing but panels from Hawk and Dove #1 where a character has their teeth clenched. About three pages in, however, I realized that that course of action would result in the longest post in the history of this blog, since almost every panel drawn by 90s comic book superstar Rob Liefeld features a man or woman with his mouth agape, pearly whites smashed together. Seriously, more teeth are gnashed in a single page of Hawk and Dove than in a year’s worth of One Life to Live. Instead of posting single images, I’ve mashed all the teeth gnashing into one image. Observe:

The horror...

If you’re a big time Rob Liefeld fan, rejoyce–he’s in full force here, and while his art has gotten a bit slicker since the days of special edition first issues with plated-titanium covers that’ve been preserved and polybagged for future value, slicker inking techniques and better paper quality can’t hide the man’s ineptitude. Liefeld’s cause could have been better helped by Sterling Gates’ script, which sees the titular heroes of the book save the Washington Monument from a terrorist’s hijacked plane (which, depending on your taste, may be a bit too exploitative), but, thinking about it, having an overmuscled action hero and his impossibly proportioned femme-sidekick save America’s favorite phallic symbol makes perfect sense.

What doesn’t make sense, at least to me, is the decision to relaunch an entire freaking universe in an attempt to move out of the past, only to hand one of 52 new books over to an artist who represents exactly the sort of thing comic books, as a medium, need to run away from. Don’t get me wrong–there’s certainly room for a throwback here and there, and I’m looking forward to checking out DC’s western and military anthology books and hope they do well. Hawk and Dove, however, represents DC’s first major fumble. Yes, Liefeld is a magnet for controversy, but it’s not like he’s a creative giant on the level of, say, Grant Morrison, who is controversial in the sense that he at least does something different or interesting when handed the ball. Rob Liefeld’s kind of controversy doesn’t create cash–it drives money away. The guy hasn’t been cool since his Levi’s Jeans commercial and, fittingly, Levi’s haven’t been cool in 20 years, either. Despite all this, Hawk and Dove will probably go on for another five or six issues, ending either when sales drop or Liefeld gets tired of the project and decides to move on to something “new.” And he’ll probably be paid unjust sums of money to do it, too.

13 Responses to The New 52: Hawk and Dove #1

  1. Chris Flowers says:

    You sir…. are an uninformed idiot.

    The gritted teeth thing isn’t specific to Liefeld. Pick your favorite Wolverine artist and I’ll make you a collage featuring the same gritted teeth and/ or an open mouth grimace. Whatever. Don’t delude yourself into thinking this stuff is a Liefeld cliche’.

    You’re quick to bash Rob Liefeld and praise Grant Morrison…. Why? I’m a big fan of both guys honestly and i love Grant Morrison’s work. I have nothing negative to say about the guy but since we’re comparing…. ask yourself this. What has Grant Morrison created? 50 years from now… Will Grant Morrison creations still be published? Hrmmm…. I dunno. Liefeld will always have Cable, X-Force, and Deadpool which is a hell of a lot more than most creators can take credit for (Morrison included). Sit down and look at those resumes…. do the math. Liefeld has outsold and “outcreated” Morrison a million times over. Without Liefeld there would be no Image comics (among other things). I could go on and on… but you’ll probably try to discredit all that too.

    You’re entitled to your opinion…. I just hate it when people like you review books with such a disrespectful one-sided attitude. Rob Liefeld has accomplished a hell of a lot more in his first 20 years than you’ve accomplished in your entire life. Why don’t you go blog about that? =)

    PS: It was a Levi’s commercial… not LEE.

    • Paul Rodgers says:

      Maybe the first sentence was misleading, but you’ve got to admit that there’s a whole lot of teeth gnashing going on in this issue.

      Everything else you wrote is perfectly correct, of course. I suppose you and I have differing opinions on what makes a person “successful.” Me, I’ll take originality and depth over monetary success. But, again, our definitions of “originality and depth” are different, too. You’re also right about Liefeld doing a lot more in 20 years than I have in my 23, but I’m hardly bitter.

      The Lee/Levi’s screw-up has been appended. Thank you for pointing it out.

    • In 50 years’ time, if Liefeld is remembered, it’ll be as a joke. Whereas Morrison is, as Richard Metzger calls him, the William S. Burroughs of his generation.

  2. Zack Reid @Chris Flowers says:

    I’m sure you make a very valid point in your comment, but I stopped reading at the first sentence. Why? Because when you insult the person rather than the idea, you instantly lose all the credibility there is to your name.

    Also, Liefeld doesn’t know anatomy, period. Unnatural number of teeth, awkward hand positioning, frog leaps, feet (feeeeeet…) and don’t even get me started about the way he draws women because I’ll puke a little in my mouth.

  3. Carlos says:

    Glad I read this review. For the last few years, I like many have been bashing Mr Liefeld but this review reminded me that (1) I bought Hawk and Dove when he wrote those issues with Kestrel and (2) I liked them at the time. I think a lot of the bashing misses the obvious fact that Rob wrote stuff that touched a generation of comic book readers in that present. What I read and hear is no different than watching old GI joe or transformers or reading some of the older comics … It was popular and had a strong appeal in its day but does not hold up under further scrutiny… But does this scrutiny matter, he brought some kids a great deal of joy back in the 90’s and isn’t that what comics are about?

    • Paul Rodgers says:

      For the record, I agree–Liefeld meant something to a significant group of comics readers, and probably does still today. I was a wee child when Liefeld was at the zenith of his powers, and as such hadn’t read a single issue of a book he drew until he did a two parter in Teen Titans with Gail Simone, who is one of my favorite comics scribes, so my perspective of him is as one of the guys filling up the quarter bins at my LCS.

      Thanks for your comment!

  4. Harry says:

    Ineptitude? Rob’s choices in anatomy are a STYLE. Sure, there are a lot of different ways to style a comic book character, and several more reasons behind the choice. What is a stereotypical comic book super hero if not “overmuscled?”. Heroes with flashy psychic powers aside, is that not why we find them interesting and fun to look at? If I wanted to look at an out of shape body with arms that can hardly support its own weight, I’d look in a mirror. If you want to complain about “impossibly proportioned,” then write to Maxim or People magazine. Their photoshopped “idealization” of celebrities is FAR more disturbing than Rob drawing a female super hero with large breasts, a skin-tight jumpsuit, and a tiny waistline… God forbid that should ever happen in a comic book.

    About his creativity, I have to back Chris Flowers on this one. Cable, X-Force, Deadpool, Image, and recently The Infinite… the list continues to grow. I’m not sure how you can go about saying that Rob is not as creative as others… He is hard

    It’s been repeated here that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I can respect the fact that you dislike Rob’s style, but the bashing and name calling is one-sided, and totally disregards all his hard work and everything he has done for the comic industry as a whole.

    • Paul Rodgers says:

      I think I’m the only person who has been called a name thus far, in the history of the blog.

      Also, I have my issues with the originality of the Image launch titles that probably aren’t worth airing out in a thread that people are just going to keep hit and running on. I’m also of the opinion that creating a character means little if your work with said character is ultimately outshone. Nearly all of Rob’s creations have been done better by others, and his best independent work had the aid of one of the best comic writers of all time.

      Your points about Maxim and People are well-taken, of course, but I’m not running a blog about celebrities, even when I write a movie review. Not that Rob’s art doesn’t have a place in the world, but we’ve come a long, long way from the backbreaking breasts of the 90s. J.H. Williams’ work on Promethia and Batwoman, Frank Quitely, Cliff Chiang’s current Wonder Woman run, etc. all prove that comic books can feature women as characters, not merely the nubile sexpots of adolescent fantasy. God forbid that ever happens in a comic book.

      • Harry says:

        I saw “ineptitude” as a “name-call.” I guess it’s a fine line. Again, back to opinions.

        Also, I meant to continue the creativity section with: He is hardworking, makes his deadlines, and does everything he can to take care of his fans. I, as a fan, appreciate that. Not that other artists don’t do that, obviously, I was just making a note of it. *Not sure how I left the rest of that out… post fail. Also, looking back, that didn’t really belong under creativity… ah well, moving on…

        To respond to your concern of being outshone: remakes, remixes, and tribute pieces occur in ALL mediums of art. In a lot of cases, the second version ends up being better than the original due to many factors. The new artist has an opportunity to look at it with a fresh set of eyes, pick out and fine tune the details, and work it with their own new and different style. Whether or not the original artist is “outshone” by this remake, the simple fact remains: without the original, the new artist would have nothing to work with. Without Rob’s Deadpool, you and I would not each have our favorite renditions of Deadpool. The fact that your art has been done by someone else should not mean that you yourself are not creative. In fact, if your artwork inspires others, I would argue that that is the best kind of art one can make. As an artist myself, I believe sharing ideas is one of the best and most productive parts of the artistic process.

        You say we’ve come a long way from the backbreaking breasts of the 90s, and you give very valid examples. I would also support your statement by agreeing that there are plenty of examples of normally proportioned women (and men for that matter) in comic books. It would be ignorant to say otherwise. But you have to admit that the common stereotype of a female comic book superhero is as described previously: large breasts, long torso, tiny waist. The comparison to magazines was purely to relate idealization, and state that I believe it is awful in magazines, but acceptable, if not encouraged in comic books.

        That said, have we really come all that far? Not being a “hit and run” commenter, I read a few of your other reviews, and your distaste for similarly done female roles is a common theme. The poor clothing style choices in Birds of Prey, or Catwoman’s use of sexuality “lazy and unconvincing,” or the overall sluttyness of Starfire and her skimpy costume. Even down to your disappointment in the fact that Suicide Squad’s Amanda Waller is now hot and has boobs. To be fair, I agree, the old character was more… well rounded… yeah, couldn’t pass that up. Anyway, I agree to an extent, that there is an importance in (to use your words) “portraying [female characters] without salivating over [them].”

        I do believe, however, that there is a difference between “idealization” and “objectification.” I’ll refer back to myself wanting to look at a comic book rather than a mirror. They are idealized and interesting to look at. Idealization is a style choice and, when used properly, looks awesome, and in my opinion, Rob achieves that without pushing into the objectification side. However, the bottom line is: in an industry where the target audience is predominantly male, sex sells. It’s why Harley Quinn has a corset now, it’s why Catwoman is half dressed flying out a window, and it’s why Starfire is a slut.

        Basically, I write all of this to say that style choices are loved and hated, art of any kind builds and grows constantly, and we should never downplay innovations by one simply because they were built upon by another. Rob has done and continues to do amazing work for the industry.

        • Paul Rodgers says:

          Thanks for coming back–wasn’t expecting a second comment from anybody. Fair enough, about “ineptitude.”

          And you’ll find no argument from me that big breasted, scantily clad women are, in fact, the norm in comics. Rob’s Hawk and Dove is about as non-sexual as they come, it’s true, especially when considered to Starfire, and the comic itself appears to be pure popcorn. The sentence “having an overmuscled action hero and his impossibly proportioned femme-sidekick save America’s favorite phallic symbol makes perfect sense” was more a comment on the book’s action movie tropes, and, after reading a few other books from the relaunch (Red Hood and the Outlaws), Dove is hardly a blip on the radar.

          That being said, I guess I look at what I read, watch, and listen to as a reflection of myself, just as much as looking into an actual mirror. Do I mind Quinn’s drastic overhaul? No. Millions of people who’ve played the two most recent Batman games would easily associate her with that look, and if a fraction of that audience picked the book up, it’s a good day for comics. Having played through Arkham City, I guess you could say the same for Catwoman, too. I’m fine with changes wherever as long as the character remains a character. One issue into Catwoman, it’s too early to tell. One issue into Suicide Squad, and Harley almost has a major breakthrough. Starfire’s just bad though, and I guess time will tell if sex really sells. I hate to predict doom and gloom, and I don’t usually check Diamond sales charts, since those things are kind of B.S., but if I had to guess, the D.C. books that’ve focused the most on cheesecake–Voodoo and Red Hood–will be the first ones out the door. Maybe I was premature in saying that Hawk and Dove will be right out, but I dunno. I haven’t been a regular reader since 2006, and last I saw him, he was primarily stuck doing two and four issue runs.

          Again, thanks for stopping by.

    • Wiccy says:

      Wait, Lazy and crappy, ugly and utterly anatomically incorrect are a “Style” now? AWESOME! I should be in comics too!

      You Leifeldians might want to put your shields up because MY bashin’ stick ain’t going away anytime soon. Sorry.

  5. Mr_Wayne says:

    Wait… people are actually DEFENDING Liefeld? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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