The Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling

road-warriors-danger-death-Many professional wrestling fans consider the Road Warriors one of the, if not the, best tag teams ever. The Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling gives an inside look into the spike and war-paint clad brawlers.

Since he’s the author, the book mostly focuses on Joe Laurinaitis life in Minnesota and how he and a friend of his named Michael Hegstrand changed their names to Animal and Hawk respectively and became professional wrestling royalty.

One of the things you take away from this book is how there was such a close-knit group of wrestlers from Minnesota who grew up together, worked out together and even bounced at the same nightclubs together. Animal and Hawk came into the wrestling business alongside Rick Rude, Demolition Smash, Nikita Koloff and even Curt Hennig, all of whom they had known since they were teenagers. Animal also goes out of his way to mention how Koloff is his best world, and makes me wonder how different the Road Warriors would have been if Koloff was part of the team instead of Hawk.

Once the Road Warriors made a name for themselves, the book goes on to explain their wrestling career and world traveling, taking them to Japan and to the World Wrestling Federation and every other major promotion in between. I was surprised to see how important their on-screen manager Paul Ellering was to their development as performers and helping them as a business adviser. You get the sense that he was equally responsible for their success.

Unfortunately for the Road Warriors, their biggest enemy was Hawk himself. As their years went by, he became increasingly difficult to work with and made poor professional choices that hindered their growth. And his reputation for partying hard certainly had a negative impact on both of their careers. It’s interesting that at certain points in the book Animal pretty much blames some of their problems on Hawk’s behavior, but takes responsibility himself for what happened, as he was supposed to be the level-headed one of the group.

Things started looking up for the Road Warriors in the early 2000s, with Hawk getting his personal problems under control and them getting ready to make a comeback. Unfortunately, Hawk died of a heart attack in 2003 and ending the Road Warriors career.

Wrestling career aside, you really get a sense of what makes Animal tick. He’s a devout Christian and his family is the most important part of his life, equal if not greater than his in-ring career. Animal comes across as a great guy who lived out his dream. He also makes a point that personal problems aside, Hawk was a very good friend of his and he is glad that they shared such a successful career.

While not accessible to non-wrestling fans as Mick Foley and Chris Jericho’s first books or as super detailed as Bret Hart’sThe Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling is an enjoyable read for die-hard Legion of Doom fans or casual wrestling watchers.

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Hawk and Dove #8

Here it is…the final issue of Hawk and Dove. Our avian avatars have teamed up with Xyra to make sure they survive the prophecy that leads to their deaths.

Issue #8 is pretty much a pay-off issue for the story, in a sense that this is where all of the action happens. They storm the cult’s headquarters–conveniently located in Washington, DC just like them. Hawk creates a diversion against the cult, which is a bunch of ninjas clad in white just like Storm Shadow, giving Dove and Xyra breaking in on the other side of the building, fighting even more ninjas.

D’Khan, the avatar of flying lizards (which seems like a natural predator of birds if they were to have existed) finally appears and battles the two women. Dove gets the best of him, but can’t bring herself to kill him which D’Khan takes advantage of and beats the snot out of her. Eventually Hawk catches up with them and he has no qualms killing D’Khan. At no point does Hawk ever wind up in a point where he would kill Dove, so either they forgot about that part of the prophecy or it turned out to just be false. Xyra thanks the duo for their help, saying that they will always have an ally between her and her cult.

The book ends with Hank and Dove sitting on a rooftop, going over the last eight issues and then getting back to work stopping criminals in DC. It’s kind of a flat ending, as the weird relationship tension between the two is never addressed (let alone resolved).

Liefeld had some help on the art by longtime collaborator Marat Mychaels, and it’s amazing how the two draw so similarly. This was the first issue of the series where I had strong feelings negatively about the art. There were a few pages that felt like they were scanned at too low of a resolution and they tried to overcompensate with over the top coloring. That, and there was one page where it’s revealed that Dove and Xyra have exactly the same haircut/face and it looked like they were twins.

As a whole, I enjoyed the Hawk and Dove series while it lasted. Was it groundbreaking and a classic? Definitely not. But by no means it wasn’t a fun read. It’s pure super hero mayhem and nothing more. I  picked up this book solely for the fact that I’ve always liked the characters, an appreciation of Liefeld’s art, and really liking his run on the title back in the early 1990s, before he blew up during his New Mutants/X-Force phase.

Maybe with some stronger writing, this book would have lasted longer. Hell, if it was Geoff Johns and Liefeld’s book, it would have been a blockbuster seller. But for what it was, I enjoyed it and I can’t wait to see the characters surface again.

Hawk and Dove #7

The answer is yes: Hawk and Dove #7 does start out looking like a Dazzler comic book from the early eighties. The next-to-last issue in Rob Liefeld’s series starts out with Dawn and Hank (which I just noticed almost sound like their respective code names) at a very disco-like environment…they’re out at the club.

And as you can see, Liefeld has Dawn all decked out in the most skin-tight dress he could draw. Dawn is pretty bummed; her boyfriend Deadman dumped her so she’s out looking to pick up dudes. And this night she brings Hank along, who only starts a huge brawl once someone gets too close to her for his comfort.

Outside, they get into a huge argument, with Hank getting more and more misogynistic in a rant about why she can’t go dressed out like that and how he always has to protect her because all men are creeps (except for him). The whole scene is awkward, as Hank has never really expressed interest in her romantically. His over-protectiveness is just odd, and thankfully it’s ended when the two are attacked by some random villain that looks like Kraven the Hunter and Deathstroke the Terminator’s lovechild, simply named the Hunter. He kind of beats the crap out of them, cutting off the finger (or as he called it Talon) of Hawk and a bunch of Dawn’s hair. Hunter gets scared off by this woman named Xyra, who looks like a grown up version of Freefall from Gen 13.

While recovering back at their apartment, Xyra explains that she’s part of a long running secret society that has been worshiping the hawk avatar and that the Hunter works for some cleric named D’Yek, who coincidentally is part of an anti-hawk group that plans on destroying him (thus needing their hair/finger for totems in a magical spell). All the while, Dawn is standing around in her bra and panties, and a very open bathrobe showing off her goods. No wonder Hank is so overprotective of her; she’s always throwing herself at people!

The book ends with D’Yek and Hunter talking at their own secret lair discussing how they will destroy the Hawk avatar and that according to old prophecies Hawk will kill Dove, a nod to the prior continuity of how the same happened when Hawk was Monarch during Armageddon 2001. It also makes me feel really old remembering that was in all the comics advertisements of stuff I was reading twenty years ago.

So the stage is set for the final issue of the series. Will Hawk get killed by the Hunter and D’Yek? Will Hawk kill Dove? Probably not. But will I miss this series? That’s a yes.

Hawk and Dove #6

I’ve really been making a dent in my “to read” pile. Hawk and Dove #6 is a one shot with the avatars of peace and war going on a vacation to lovely Gotham City.

They’ve been chasing the New 52-ized Blockbuster who has stolen the Amulet of Ra from the Smithsonian Institute, only to encounter and then team up with Batman and Robin. It’s part of what happens when you visit that city.

So the three birds and the bat team up to stop Blockbuster, who is working with this sorceress Necromancer to collect these mystical totems like the Amulet to get some sort of magical powers. Obviously, our heroes aren’t impressed. They save the day; Hawk and Dove are on their way back home to Washington DC.

The issue was written and drawn by Rob Liefeld and is suited to his strengths. It’s pretty much a full issue of fights and such. I did like the way he had Damien as Robin characterized as being pretty an ass. Stands up on its own decently.

Hawk and Dove #3-4

President Barack Obama gets possessed by the ghostly hero Deadman

This series has been such a throwback to fun, over-the-top super hero comics. Last time we checked in with Hawk and Dove, they were trying to save President Obama from the evil Condor and Swan. Did they have get Barack back?

Of course they did. Issue #3 was filled with ridiculous fighting and destruction through the White House. How ridiculous? Deadman even gets involved in the action, “possessing” Obama for a little bit. How crazy is that. Issues like this really show Rob Liefeld’s strength as an artist. The issue ends with Hawk and Dove taking Condor into custody.

The next issue is writer Sterling Gates’ time to shine. Hawk and Dove have an opportunity to interrogate Condor. It’s a very well written, slow burn story that crescendos with Swan rescuing her partner in crime and revealing that this was all an elaborate setup to kidnap Deadman!

Seriously, go read these. Hawk and Dove definitely falls into the comics are fun category. I would say that this and Batgirl are the best of the New 52 books I’ve read.

Hawk and Dove #2

One of the joys of having a rage filled partner is that you never get a chance to fight super villains by yourself. Just ask Dove.

The second issue of Hawk and Dove continues the fun from the last issue. Writer Sterling Gates and artists Rob Liefeld are still at the helm. So what are our avian and emotion avatars up to this time?

They’re still fighting Alexander Quirk’s army of zombie monsters, but they have to take a break to celebrate Judge Hall receiving an award at the White House. President Obama vaguely looks like Obama, in case you were wondering. The book ends with the beige Hawk looking character from last issue crashes the party, and the book ends with Hawk and Dove having to save Hawk’s dad and the president.

The art is very good, so Liefeld deserves some credit. But most of the credit on this book should deservedly be given to Gates. His character building dialogue works well with Liefeld’s over-the-top action.

Plot wise, Gates accomplishes a lot this issue. The beige Hawk looking dude is actually called Condor, and he has a female sidekick named Swan. Apparently they have powers similar to Hawk and Dove. This issue started with the two of them beating up a greyish looking Hawk type (Ostrich?), so I wonder if we’re going to wind up with a bird version of the various Lantern Corps.

The dynamics of Hawk with the supporting characters gets explored as well. Deadman, Dove’s boyfriend, really makes it clear how much of an ass he thinks Hawk is, which puts her in a difficult spot. For some reason, Hawk’s dad invites his ex-girlfriend Ren (who hasn’t been seen or heard from in almost a decade) to the awards ceremony and makes things very awkward for everyone. For whatever reason, Hawk really hates her, and she displaces that hate on Dawn. Very bizarre.

Hawk and Dove has been fun, and I can’t wait to see where they go next, especially with all the Condor and Swan business. This will connect to Quirk at some point, and I cannot wait.

Project Defense Day 6: The Hawk

The Hawk

Our next hero is the winged protector of Atlanta, the Hawk!

ORIGIN: Leonard Turner is a billionaire playboy by day but protects the city of Atlanta by night as the Hawk. Think like Batman, Green Arrow, Iron Man etc. Just a rich dude who wants to use his powers for good.

POWERS:  They would tell you, but then they’d have to kill you. They can take care of themselves and the city just fine.

OTHER:  Leonard is a nod to former coach/player Lenny Wilkins, and Turner is the surname of former owner Ted Turner. The color scheme is taken from their really awesome mid 1970s uniforms that the Atlanta Hawks sported.

Hawk and Dove #1

Finally! Hawk and Dove #1 was a lot of fun, and I’m not saying that just because I’m a huge Rob Liefeld fan. So now that I’ve finally gotten a chance to read it, did it live up to almost four months worth of expectations?

The answer is yes.

Since Hawk and Dove really hasn’t been around too much in DC comics the last twenty years or so, there was a lot of reintroduction to the concept and how it plays out in the New 52. Hank Hall is still the avatar of war Hawk, and has an uneasy alliance with Dawn Granger, the avatar of peace Dove. He still doesn’t like her, as she replaced his brother Don as Hawk. So I guess that part of Crisis on Infinite Earths is still canonical. They don’t say exactly how done died, but I guess they will address that at some point.

This sets up the first story arc by introducing the new villain Alexander Quirk, a “self-proclaimed science terrorist” (yes, that’s a direct quote) who attempts to invade Washington DC with some weird zombie like creatures. Since this is the beginning and we’re still in the exposition phase of the story, Hawk and Dove quickly dispatch them and wind up denting the Washington Memorial in the process. The book ends with the debut of a new character wearing a Hawk inspired costume that is beige and brown. I guess he’s a more business casual version of Hank.

Art wise, this is some fun Rob Liefeld art. It’s bombastic. It’s kinetic.It’s over the top. But it’s also a lot of fun. It’s really good and I’m sure he was motivated on this.

Story wise, Sterling Gates did a great job. His characterization is spot on, even if you’ve never read any of the previous versions of the characters. There’s a lot of tension between our two heroes. Dove gets a lot of character expansion, as not only is she currently dating Deadman (I have no idea how that works.’s fiancee), but she was previously in a secret relationship with her predecessor Don! Gates has also brought back Hank’s father, Judge Hall, into the equation and he serves as a calming counterpoint to Hank.

Hawk and Dove #1 didn’t disappoint me in the least bit. It was great fun and I can’t wait to continue reading this series.

30 Things I Like About Comics–#24 Rob Liefeld

I’ve always enjoyed Rob Liefeld. Rob Liefeld's Uncanny X-Force

His art, with its over muscled and hyper exaggerated movement, is certainly a style that works in his projects. When you look back at the titles that Liefeld worked on, none of them fall into the serious “comics-as-art” case studies. Instead, his books were always the over-the-top super hero adventures with lots of explosions. His men are drawn with more muscle striation than you could find in a He-Man action figure. On the other side, his ladies had hotter and more unnatural proportions than Barbie.

Liefeld works best when he is teamed up with a strong writer. Case in point, look at his run on Hawk & Dove in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Written by Barbara and Karl Kesel, they created a damn fine series that still holds up to this day. Karl’s inking certainly Rob Liefeld's Hawk and Doveworks well with Liefeld’s art, maintaining the kineticism, but keeping it focused.

His work with Louise Simonson and Fabian Nicieza on New Mutants and X-Force respectively is solid. It also brought us Cable and Deadpool, both of which are cornerstones in the X-franchise. Youngblood was certainly a big deal when it came out, as were his Heroes Reborn takes on Captain America and the Avengers.

His fan reception is certainly polarizing. As successful as he is, there is also a vocal number of people who have an immense dislike of him, finding criticisms of his artistic skill and his storytelling.

I’ve never been one of the cynical fan types, but one thing I have noticed is that everyone is looking for the next Watchmen. Instead of enjoying a book for just being an escapist action/adventure fantasy, they unleash their frustrations on it for not being the next big groundbreaking work or for it not advancing the art form.

I think that Liefeld would find Michael Bay to be a kindred spirits of sorts. They both have a similar storytelling mantra, with big action and bigger effects, and not focusing on the more serious or realistic side. Because of that, they have a lot of vocal detractors.

But ultimately, they have dedicated and loyal fanbases, not to mention the ability to create ‘event’ stories that capture outsiders attention. Bay has grossed over $3 billion worldwide. Granted, Liefeld hasn’t generated money to that level but he’s certainly sold some funny books over the years.

Regardless what you think of him, you have to accept that Liefeld loves comics. Whenever you read any of his interviews or listen to him talk at a convention, you cannot argue that he isn’t a fan. He loves this industry. And not only that, he’s always super friendly to his fans.

And besides, how many comic creators have had television commercials?

Check out Lifeld’s blog for all kinds of arty goodness.