Sunday, 5 April 2009

Gil Kane, The Hawk & The Dove

Gil Kane was born today. Gil, of course, is and was so legendary that I don't even need to put 'legendary' in front of his name. Simply put, if you don't like the art of Gil Kane, you don't like comics.

Here's one of the all too rare times that Gil both wrote as well as drew a story, from the penultimate issue of The Hawk & The Dove. Gil, of course, inherited this book from Steve Ditko, though writer Steve Skeates stayed on to script the thing. By all accounts, no one up at DC was ever that keen on this strip, Ditko & Kane both having issues with how the dynamic between raving psychotic Hawk and pacifist milquetoast Dove could ever actually work. Both artists saw The Dove simply as an ill thought out plot device that couldn't be fixed, as opposed to Skeates' reading of the character not as a coward, but as a different kind of hero. In the end, it didn't matter anyway, as the book lasted a mere six issues before cancellation. Personally, I always loved the idea of siblings who are also superheroes, and who hate each others guts, as brothers do.

But issue 5 is an interesting one. Apparently, Skeates decided to go on holiday without actually telling anyone at the DC offices, forcing Kane to do the whole issue himself, with literally no time to do it in. And although this issue is full of three-quarter & even half-pages, the speed at which Gil was forced to work translates to the pace of the story magnificently.
Ostensibly, The Hawk & The Dove are trying to find out who attempted a botched bank robbery, but that's not really what this issue is about. As the battling brothers go running, leaping & jumping over the rooftops, what you're really getting is one long chase scene.
From the opening splash, the pacing is 100mph, neither our heroes, nor our artist, pausing for breath once.
Other than maybe Lou Fine, no one was as good at showing the human form in motion as Gil Kane, and here he's clearly having the time of his life. Plus The Dove finally gets to kick some ass!


  1. sweet! that splash page is pure Kane genious. you're right there, pete, mate: if you don't like Kane, you don't like comics. more than 'nuff said! great post.

  2. Why in Gods name is there no Gil Kane web site? There are sites for so many artists, and yet Kane goes almost unrecognized. It's sad that someone so integral to comics is so ignored.

  3. Ironically Skeates wrote Dove a cringing coward. Being a pacificst doesn't mean one can't defend onseself or others, yet Skeates seemed to think it means "I'll let bad things happen all around me and let bad guys kick my ass and do nothing "