Dennis O’Neil: Hawkman Is A Know-It-All!
We’re now into the run of television’s latest superhero saga, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and while we’ve been treated to both Hawkman and his mate, who are among the stars of the show, we haven’t yet seen Hawkman’s omcromicon. Do we breathe a sigh of relief or add another bitter complaint to the list?
Or do we scratch our heads and ask what the dickens an… wha’d I call it? – an omcromicon is?
Let’s do that. But first, a confession: I’m on shaky ground here because I’m not sure that I’m spelling “omcromicon” correctly and a very hasty pass through the web got me zilch. Plenty of stuff on Hawkman and Hawkgirl (a.k.a. Hawkwoman) – more than I expected – and a goodly number of mentions of what was once the Hawks’ favored weapons, antique harmbringers like maces and such. But omcromicon? Nada.
So I’m forced to depend on my memory and woe is us.
But here we go anyway. First, the obvious question: What’s an omcromicon? If memory serves – and that will be the day – the device under discussion here is a bit of technology that originated on the Hawks” home planet Thanagar. (Was there a Thanagarian Steve Jobs?) The omcromicon knows everything that everybody on our planet – Earth – knows, which makes it way handier than a Smartphone. (I’m presuming the gadget’s mindreading is limited to sentient beings and I don’t know where that would leave, say, dolphins.).
Nifty tool for a bewinged, offworld vigilante, no?
When I had a polite, but unintimate, acquaintance with the Hawks, I think I pretty much ignored it. The reasons? Okay, here we go into Comics Writing 101, but I will keep it short. The essence of this kind of fiction is struggle: two or more antagonists are after the same thing and the story is a narrative of how one of them defeats the other. If that struggle is too easily resolved, the story is pretty short and maybe not too interesting.
So now our question becomes: Does the omcromicon make the Hawks’ job too easy? Yes and no. It allows the storyteller to skip potentially boring blather about how the good guys got to the place where they could wallop the bad guys and let’s admit it, that’s what we want to see. But maybe the good guys would gain stature and interest if they had to do the legwork on stage. Let them solve the problems too easily and… why do we admire this hero again?
Give a winged avenger an omcromicon and you’ve given him or her something usually reserved for deities: omniscience. Or something darn close to it. You sure you want to do that?
I didn’t, on those rare occasions when the Hawks were a professional concern. But if I’m so smart, why am I not omniscent?