Can someone give me an explanation of Hawkman and Hawkgirl?
Normally when I write these I get to talk a bunch about what characters have done, what makes them tick, highlights from their careers etc. This time? Well sure, I’ll be covering a bunch of that but I’m also going to be mainly focusing on the main, many, many (many!) continuity changes and crazy updates DC has subjected the characters to in their nearly 75 years of publication. I’m going to basically focus on Hawkman but I’ll be covering Hawkgirl (and Hawkwoman, when she calls herself that) too at each point.
One other thing that’s a bit different with this post is that I have a contributor! Reddit user /u/dmull387 has written a great coverage of Hawkman’s history and I’ll be including his commentary throughout! You can check out his Tumblr here. When I’m quoting him you’ll see the speech bubble to the right and the text will appear in this rather charming blue.
I recommend reading from start to finish rather than jumping around but this should make finding sections easier.
Table of Contents
- Golden Age (1940)
- Silver Age (1961)
- Citizen(s) of the Multiverse (1963)
- Golden Eagle (1975)
- Hector Hall (1983)
- Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985)
- Hawkworld (1989)
- Golden Eagle Update (1989)
- Fel Andar (1992)
- Perry Carter (1994)
- Zero Hour: Crisis In Time! (1994)
- Zauriel (1997)
- Kendra Saunders (1999)
- Carter and Reincarnation Revisited (1999+)
- New Golden Eagle (2005)
- Shayera Hol (2005)
- Earth-2 (2007)
- Hawkman Special (2008)
- Blackest Night / Brightest Day (2009-2011)
- The New 52 (2011)
- Futures End / Convergence (2015)
- Other Non-Main Continuity Versions
- Further Reading
So, there’s multiple versions?
To say the least! Sometimes Hawkman’s an alien, sometimes a human archaeologist, sometimes a God. This has all lead to Hawkman’s history being bewildering at best and downright insane at worst, especially for new readers.
“Hawkman is an incredibly confusing character for DC beginners, but it wasn’t always this way. When written well, Carter Hall is one of the most compelling characters in the DC Universe. When written poorly, he is an example of how editorial interference in comics can turn a character into a tangled mess.”
This has all lead to something you might see bandied around called a ‘Hawksnarl’ and that’s an adaptation of this TV Trope called Continuity Snarl. You can read the full description on that link – although, be careful not to get lost in TV Tropes – but the basics of it are this:
In the beginning, The Universe is created, and it’s a blank slate. Everything’s new; as such, the creators can do whatever they want to do, create whatever they want to create, throw everything in and have fun doing so. Whatever works, works and whatever doesn’t, doesn’t. So far, so good.
However, the whole idea of a Shared Universe is that different creative teams will eventually take over. Sometimes Writer A of Title A will leave and Writer B will take over, while at other times Writer A’s character will guest star or make a Cameo appearance in Writers B’s title. People being people, those different creators will have their own ideas. They’ll have different ideas about what the ‘verse should be, about what has worked and what hasn’t, what might work and what doesn’t … things that were previously essential may become irrelevant to the new team, and different character traits and events may be emphasized or ignored. They change things.
When another creative team comes along, they’ll change things even more; they may even completely override the changes made by the previous team to include things that they want to see or to reassert a previous status quo. Unfortunately, sometimes what they regard as being fundamental to the original continuity was never even there to begin with! … The longer that this goes on and as more teams take over, the more chance there is of a Continuity Snarl. The more retcons are made, reset buttons pressed, and the more the ‘verse enters into a Dork Age.
There is also a bigger chance of certain things simply being forgotten and overlooked (and then possibly rediscovered and revived). As the process continues, more things become confused, convoluted and impenetrable. Weird inconsistencies and gratuitous retcons proliferate. Drastic changes opening up dozens of potentially fascinating story-lines are introduced and then promptly forgotten about and left hanging (or immediately reverted) by another new team, which goes on to do something completely different.
So yeah, Hawkman is a prime example of this. Due to different writers, and particularly mandates from DC higher ups, reboots, retcons and more the Hawks have become the poster children for totally confusing continuity. Worse for people catching up many wikis and the such talk about past periods, like the Golden Age, with information that wasn’t retconned into the Hawks’ history until decades later. Even I find it hard to keep some of that stuff straight but I’m going to try and keep each section clean of history that was added later.
For example: you won’t find anything tying the ancient Egyptian origin of the Golden Age with the alien origin of the Silver Age in the Golden Age section but I will cover it later on during the time period when it was introduced/relevant. Understanding the Hawks should be easier when you follow them through history instead of having all the complicated and conflicting stuff thrown at you all at once :)
With due credit, this comic is a fantastic, quick primer on the madness I’m about to talk about, so feel free to read it first, and then let’s dive head first into the Golden Age!
“He’s a human archaeologist… who’s a reincarnated Egyptian prince!”
Hawkman first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (1940), and was a featured character in that title throughout the 1940s. This Hawkman was Carter Hall, a reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince, Khufu, who had in the modern day discovered that the mysterious “ninth metal” could negate the effects of gravity and allow him to fly. He donned a costume with large wings to allow him to control his flight and became the crimefighter, Hawkman. He also had a companion hawk named Big Red that assisted him in fighting crime. An archaeologist by trade, Hall uses ancient weapons from the museum of which he was curator in his efforts.
OK, as that comic I linked above noted, this is the same guy who chose a mace because “with this weapon of the past I’ll defeat an evil of the present.” He was a nutty dude. Anyway, there’s more to their origin, as Dmull387 explains, starting with Prince Khufu in Ancient Egypt:
“He and his consort, Shiera (called Chay-Ara post-Crisis), utilized artifacts made of “ninth metal” to usher in a golden age of peace for Egypt. However, not everyone was happy with this. The jealous priest Hath-Set murdered them both, setting off a cycle of reincarnation that continues to the modern day.”
You see, when Carter found the ancient knife Hath-Set used to kill him in the present day, Hall regained his memories of his past life in a dream and recognizes Anton Hastor as the reincarnated evil priest, Hath-Set.
He also meets Sheira the next day and recognises her as the woman he did the nasty in the pasty with – which is to say, his one true love.
Anton actually captures Shiera with magic which is what leads to Carter to…
Making wings and dressing like a bird? Makes total sense. So with that, Hawkman is born! But Hawkgirl wouldn’t appear until a bit later.
Shiera first appears as Hawkgirl in All Star Comics #5 (July 1941). During Hawkman’s solo segment of the Justice Society of America story, Shiera dons a spare set of ninth metal wings developed by Hawkman, and masquerades as Hawkman in order to trick some criminals. Shiera continues to wear the costume and wings in later stories, eventually adopting the identity of Hawkgirl.
So yeah, what a team they made! Two Hawks, zooming all over the city and using outdated weaponry for mostly unclear reasons. They wouldn’t however get their own solo series until the Silver Age.
“They shared Flash Comics with Jay Garrick, the Flash, taking a little corner box when Flash was the cover focus, and Jay taking the box when they were the cover focus. During all of this, Hawkman served in the Justice Society of America alongside Hour-Man, Sandman, and many of the other colorful ‘mystery men’ of the 1930s and 40s.”
Sadly, this run couldn’t last forever:
Along with most other superheroes, Hawkman’s Golden Age adventures came to an end when the industry turned away from the [superhero] genre in the early 1950s. His last appearance was in All Star Comics #57 (1951).
This Golden Age characters reincarnation backstory would later be explained that he, and his love Hawkgirl, had been reincarnated multiple times through the centuries – including as Wild West gunslinger heroes Nighthawk and Cinnamon – and the ninth metal retconned to alien nth metal, tying the origin with the alien version… but I’m getting ahead of myself. Onwards!
“No, they’re alien space bird cops!”
Now, I mentioned the huge slump in interest in superhero comics. This affected all heroes and the only characters who really stayed in print were Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman through the 1950s. Towards the end of this and the early 1960s however the market returned and DC started to expand their line again.
This is how the Silver Age, and new unrelated characters of the Golden Age versions who share only their predecessors names, were introduced. The first was Barry Allen as the Flash, unrelated to the Golden Age Jay Garrick version of the Flash, and he was soon joined by others, like Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern replacing Alan Scott’s Green Lantern. At the time, no real explanation was given for why these different characters shared names (although Barry was at least seen reading an old Jay Garrick comic book which apparently inspired his name choice when he miraculously gained similar powers)
Anyway, another one of these Silver Age redos was the introduction of a new Hawkman! Gone was the ‘boring’, human archaeologist: Carter Hall was reimagined as the alien from Thanagar, Katar Hol!
Hawkman was revived in The Brave and the Bold #34 (Feb-Mar 1961), this time as an alien policeman from the planet Thanagar, though his powers were largely the same.
What was this new characters background like though?
Indeed! When the Manhawks attacked Katar’s father, Paran Katar, renowned ornithologist and inventor, used information Katar gained infiltrating the Manhawk’s ‘nest’ to create a hawk-like battle suit containing advanced technology like Nth metal. Katar used this hawk-suit and Paran’s advanced weaponry to drive the Manhawks away from Thanagar! There was much rejoicing.
You’ll also, no doubt, notice that this new magical Nth metal sounds a lot like the Golden Age’s ninth metal but it would be awhile before they were officially linked. For now, we turn back to Wikipedia:
That, however, was not the end of the problem. Some Thanagarians had learned the concept of stealing from the Manhawks. Due to the amount of crime, the Thanagarian government created a police force. In honor of Paran Katar and his achievements, the new police force began using his hawk-suit and equipment. Paran headed this new police force, named the Hawk-Police (or Wingmen), and his son became one of the first recruits.
Katar soon became one of the most skilled of the Hawk-Police. When a group called the Rainbow Robbers began committing crimes, Katar was teamed up with rookie Shayera Thal to track and apprehend the criminals. During the case, Shayera saved Katar’s life, and the two soon fell in love. A few weeks later, Katar proposed to Shayera and the two got married, working together as partners-for-life in the Hawk-Police.
After ten years of marriage and in the force, the pair were sent to Earth in 1959 to capture the shape-shifting Thanagarian criminal Byth Rok. During their mission, they meet George Emmett, commissioner of the Midway City Police Department, and told him their alien origin. With Emmett’s help, the pair took over his retiring brother Ed’s place as Midway City Museum’s curators. They adopt the identities as Carter and Shiera Hall. After capturing him and sending him back to Thanagar, they elected to remain on Earth to work with authorities to learn human police methods. The two acted publicly as the heroes Hawkman and Hawkgirl (later Hawkwoman).
“They used their old Golden Age names as covers, isn’t that confusing,” I hear you ask? The short answer is “yep!” but it’s going to get way worse so this is almost not even worth complaining about.
Of course, they capture Byth Rok and send him back Thanagar and start acting publicly as the heroes Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Wait, you ask, why did they stay on Earth after capturing Byth?
“They stayed to study police methods, and to dispute the supernatural (no, I’m not kidding, this was one of their hooks pre-Crisis), the Hawks ran their own series for about 30 issues, before being paired with the Ray Palmer Atom in a double feature similar to the later Green Lantern/Green Arrow, just not nearly as popular.”
Naturally, Hawkman eventually joined the Justice League of America, just like how his predecessor had been an important member of the Justice Society. Shayera herself later joined the JLA and later still dropped ‘Hawkgirl’ and took the name Hawkwoman.
There were other shenanigans – including the first version of a war between Thanagar and Rann which would later be revisited during the Countdown to Infinite Crisis, and, I shit you not, a plague on Thanagar that made everybody physically and mentally the same – but it’s mostly part of the minutia that’s not important here. One bit is going to be a bit important though:
“Katar and Shayera would later face forces attempting to conquer the Earth, in Shadow War of the Hawkman (1985), written primarily by Tony Isabella, creator of Black Lightning, followed by an ongoing that didn’t last particularly long, even by Hawkman standards.”
“Flash fact: outside the shared Flash Comics spotlight, the longest lasting Hawkman series still only lasted 66 issues, with no title named Hawkman, Hawkgirl, or Hawkworld ever hitting 100 or even 75 issues.”
Regardless of the length of the series, the Shadow War saw the introduction of a character called Fell Andar, a Thanagarian and major architect of the war with Earth.
First appearing in The Shadow War of Hawkman, Thanagarian agent Fel Andar led a team to Earth to steal the Hawks’ technology. Thanagar has at this time become a fascist empire and was planning to take over the universe, starting with Earth. Since they lost their technology during the Equalizer plague, the Hawks were the only ones who possessed them as they were off-planet. Andar took control of the Hawks’ spaceship. The Hawks manage to sabotage the ship and crashed. The Hawks battled Andar and emerged victorious.
That’s basically the end of him for now but trust me, you’ll want to remember that name.
Name remembering aside, this has mostly been pretty easy to follow right? Well let’s jump to the next section where the cracks begin to form! It’s time for a *real* Crisis…
“Ha, yes! You see, he’s both a human archaeologist and an alien cop. Kinda!”
Now, in 1961, while the Katar Hol version of Hawkman was just getting started, something else was happening. Barry Allen happened to have an adventure called Flash of Two Worlds:
At a charity event organized by Iris West, the Flash is using his super-speed to perform magic tricks to entertain the children there as the magician has not come. During a rope climbing trick, the Flash begins vibrating his molecules to appear invisible when he suddenly disappears from the stage. He finds himself outside in a strange city, which he discovers to be Keystone City, the home of the Golden Age Flash.
This established that Jay Garrick simply hadn’t existed but instead his stories had been from a parallel world! It was a fairly elegant solution at the time and while the story was a one off the success soon lead to DC expanding the idea. The world of Jay Garrick’s Flash was called Earth-Two, and it wasn’t just him there but all the Golden Age heroes! Meanwhile the main DC universe was denoted Earth-One. The number of Earths kept increasing and the DC Multiverse was born.
Adventures and team-ups between the Earth-One and Two, usually chronicled in the Justice League of America book, became a yearly tradition and would remain so for the next two decades. The stories often used the word ‘crisis’ in their name (such as Crisis on Earth-One!, Crisis on Earth-A! and Crisis Between Earth-One and Earth-Two!) and have since collectively become known as Crisis on Multiple Earths, which is also name for the volumes that collect them.
Why is this relevant? Because the first of these after Flash inaugural multiverse mission was the two parter Crisis on Earth-One!/Crisis on Earth-Two! and featured the human Carter Hall version of Hawkman! Later stories saw Crisis Between Earth-One and Earth-Two! saw the Earth-One team include the Katar Hol version, and the two would even meet and hang out a bunch of times during the 60s, 70s and early 80s.
This really didn’t change anything about their origins, in fact it made the similarities make slightly more sense if they were parallel version of one another. Sadly, this was to change in the mid-80s…
“Nah, forget all that, here’s an all new guy! Now forget about him.”
So, for the record, this is all taking place on Earth-One with the Thanagar version of Hawkman and Hawkwoman. For the rest, I’m going to let Wikipedia handle this:
The original Golden Eagle was an orphan by the name of Charley Parker. Charley lived in the Midway City orphanage and idolized Hawkman. At one point he sent a letter to Hawkman describing his home-made “Hawkman” costume. In Justice League of America (vol. 1) #109, Hawkman had been ordered back to Thanagar, thus resigning from the JLA. Golden Eagle debuted seven issues later in Justice League of America (vol. 1) #116.
Parker himself explained that one day he had been wearing his “Hawkman” costume and fantasizing he was the Thanagarian hero when a strange light enveloped him turning his costume into an exact replica of Hawkman’s costume. He also gained the ability to fly due to the replicated wings of his costume. Charley could at will change his street clothes into the Golden Eagle costume. The Justice League was called by the Midway City Police due to several incidents where criminals were dropped off at the police headquarters, captured by someone unknown who left a gold colored feather behind—Hawkman’s old modus operandi.
The Leaguers investigated and ran into the Golden Eagle when they were attacked by Hawkman’s old foe – Mark Mandrill, the Matter Master, a man who carried a mentally controlled wand that could manipulate matter—for example, changing the heads of members of the Justice League into the heads of animals. The Matter Master thought the Golden Eagle was Hawkman and mentally had the wand bring the Golden Eagle to his hidden lair. Mandrill figured out that his wand must have transformed Charley, acting out some sort of subconscious need for the villain to battle Hawkman, who hadn’t been seen for months. At the end of the story, Charley was changed back into a normal teenager.
So there you have it! He also later appeared in Teen Titans #50, as a member of Titans West. He would later get a minor update and retcon in the later 80s and then a complete reboot – in line with the one Hawkman and Hawkwoman underwent earlier – in 2005.
For now though, you can forget about him.
“Didn’t the Golden Age Carter and Shiera Hall have a son?”
Well, yes, they did, but the story of Hector Hall is a long and, in the tradition of his parents, ridiculously complicated one. I’ll do a full ‘What’s the deal with Hector Hall?’ post at some point and link it from here when I do, but here are the headlines of his entire life. I’ll be running through the whole thing, so naturally most of this section will be out of chronological order with the rest of this post but as you’ll see it doesn’t really matter.
Born in 1983, prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths, to the human Hawks, Carter and Sheira, on Earth-Two.
- Regardless, his existence and continuity was retained post-Crisis
- His parents reincarnation deal also affected him, but there was also an ancient Egyptian curse as well
- He ended up making a suit of Nth Metal and calling himself Silver Scarab
- With a bunch of JSA kids he helped formed Infinity, Inc.
- Hooked up with Lyta Trevor, who also joined Infinity, Inc. (Originally the child of Golden Age Wonder Woman, this was changed with Crisis on Infinite Earths. Golden Age Wonder Woman no longer existed by Lyta still did so her mother was said to be new hero called Helena Kosmatos who had called herself Fury. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.)
- Hector impregnates Lyta!
- Curse kicks in, he goes evil. Infinity Inc fight him and he dies. For the first time.
- Only he doesn’t! His consciousness ends up in the Dreaming, land of Morpheus, Dream of the Endless (yes, of Neil Gaiman fame) who was imprisoned at the time.
- He’s manipulated into becoming the new Sandman and uses this new role to visit pregnant Lyta
- They go into the Dream Dimension, where her pregnancy is halted
- Eventually Morpheus comes back and cleans house: he kicks Hector to he land of the dead, Lyta back to reality and claims her unborn child, naming him Daniel and that he would be the next Lord of Dreams.
OK, this next section will also no doubt be a post in and of itself:
- Mordru drives Hank Hall of the Hawk and Dove team – no relation to the Hawkman family, despite the last name and bird motif – insane and basically has him rape Dove, Dawn Granger, impregnating her so Mordru can inhabit the body.
- Hector Hall’s soul is drawn to the new body before Mordru can claim it though and after some more madness gets to keep the, now fully grown, body. Also, because his parents are now Hawk and Dove, agents of Lords of Chaos and Order respectively, he is now an agent of balance.
- This would be helpful as the new version of Hector is chosen to be the new Doctor Fate! He would operate in this guise for a fair amount of time.
- After a long time, he found and is reunited with Lyta!
Their eventual ending was actually rather sweet, in JSA #80 (2006):
With their reunion, Lyta and Hall returned to the Tower and lived happily, until they were trapped in a section of Hell by the Spectre, who was going on a rampage to destroy all magic. The two were dropped atop a frozen mountain, where Hector was forced to fend off various demons that threatened him and Lyta. Meanwhile, Lyta was unconscious, and in fact communicating with their son Daniel, Lord of the Dreaming. Daniel proposed they join him in the Dreaming, and when Lyta woke up, Hector had collapsed near her, close to death. She decided to take him up on his offer, and together with Hector, knowing they could never return, they entered the portal to the Dreaming. As their physical bodies froze to death atop the mountain, their spirits joined their son…
As you can see, eventually the character, his wife, family, new parents and everything end up pretty separated and fairly distant from the Hawks and all their adventures. He did turn up at some key moments, but otherwise is easily ignore when looking at Hawkman and Hawkwoman.
And now, let’s never talk about him again.
“No no no – what Multiverse? Now they’re all on the same Earth!”
In 1985 DC published Crisis on Infinite Earths. They thought that the multiverse and long character histories, not to mention all the different Earths and versions of characters, were too complicated and confusing for new readers and crafted a story that saw most of the Multiverse destroyed except for a few refugees. Earth-One, Earth-Two, Earth-Four (home of the Charlton Comics characters like Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and The Question), Earth-S (home to the Fawcett Comics like Captain Marvel) and Earth-X (home to the Quality Comics like Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters) were merged into one, coherent world and composite timeline that would be called New Earth.
It would have been a perfect time to reconcile the two versions of the character. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
Unlike lots of other characters who had their backgrounds rewritten by Crisis on Infinite Earths it seemed that Hawkman and Hawkgirl/Hawkwomen’s history became more complicated now that the JSA and JLA had always existed on one earth and in one timeline.
Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, some of Hall’s history was retconned by DC when the parallel worlds were combined into one, but one piece of retroactive continuity was written before Crisis and fills out early Hall history: All-Star Squadron Annual #3 states that during a JSA battle against Ian Karkull, the villain imbued them with energy which retarded their aging, allowing Hall and many others – as well as their spouses – to remain active into the late 20th century without infirmity.
So not only are they both around but the older ones are still active? And they still had the same name, without any explanation? It was a weird time. Luckily, DC decided to get rid of them and the human versions, with most of the JSA, were cast off into Limbo in the Last Days of the Justice Society one-shot (1986), which saw them entering a final neverending battle to save the Earth.
So at least we only had the Silver Age, alien versions now, right? They actually got a fair bit of play during the years post-Crisis…
“Next on the Thanagarian plate, was the Invasion! Miniseries (1988-89). Multiple aliens, led by the Dominators, staged an invasion of Earth. During the war, Hawkman and Hawkgirl fought tooth and nail against their own kind, and became exiles for it. Well, they would have, if what happened next made any sense at all.”
Dmull387 couldn’t have said it better. It would be one thing Crisis on Infinite Earths had just left them alone – I mean, you could have still reconciled the two versions somehow – but DC were about to throw the biggest spanner (mace?) in the works yet.
Hawkworld was coming…
“No! They’re a new, different version of the alien space bird cops!”
So, after Crisis on Infinite Earths DC had success with retelling the origins of their heroes in this new timeline and reality. 1986 saw Superman get his origin updated and retold with The Man of Steel and Wonder Woman and Batman got the same treatment the following year with Gods and Mortals and Year One. By the time 1989 rolled around, it was the Hawks turn.
The new miniseries was designed to tell an updated, post-Crisis origin of the Silver Age, alien version of Hawkman and Hawkwoman which would be set in the past but inform the adventures of the two characters already being published. There was a darker feel to the subject matter, dealing with societal corruption, racism, and imperialism. The costumes were redesigned too, with most of the Thanagarian’s wings now made of metal, but I’ll let Dmull387 take you through the plot:
“Timothy Truman wrote and penciled the three part origin story, called Hawkworld. It was a tale of a slightly different Thanagar, and a slightly different Hawkman. Thanagar became a hollow utopia, drunk off the power of conquering worlds, using its subjugated peoples as slaves for the Towers and shunting the rest in a place called The Downside. Katar Hol is an amateur historian and policeman from the Towers, giving up a cushy job as an administrator to work shifts downside. He longs for a time when Thanagar used to be its own culture, instead of relying on slaves and the work of other planets. He finds some solace in the traumatic things he sees by taking pills and losing himself in the high and the advances of Shayera Thal, daughter of administrator Thal Porvis.”
“This changes when a terrorist bomb explodes in a nightclub, killing Shayera. Drug addled out of his mind and in grief at Shayera’s death. Katar ends up going on a mission with Byth, reimagined here as a commander of the Wingmen, to track down a subversive element’s arms deal downside. Katar confronts the subversive and shoots him when he runs. He undercovers the subversive’s face in horror, seeing his own father, Paran Katar, staring back at him. Byth nails him on charges of patricide, and Katar is exiled for ten years.”
It’s worth pointing out that Katar’s exile was pretty messed up in some ways. In #2 of the miniseries we see his time on the Isle of Chance:
A few days after becoming a new inhabitant of the island, Katar comes across an alien, collecting feathers and attaching them to sticks to make a set of crude wings. Katar waits until the creature has completed the wings and then kills it with a boulder, claiming the wings for himself.
Another creature of the same kind approaches and tells Katar the one he just killed was making the wings for Katar. Ashamed, Katar realizes he is not ready to leave the island. He befriends the second creature, trains with a sword and lives a monk-like existence on the island. Before he knows it, ten years have passed and a ship crewed by wingmen arrives and picks him up…
With this, Katar is back in civilisation, although he ends up in the poor Downside area…
“A fresh wingwoman investigates claims of a new power broker in downside, only to find Katar Hol running medicine and supplies to those who need it. She reveals herself to be an orphan whose parents were killed on Katar’s first mission as a wingman, who was adopted by Thal Porvis and named Shayera after his dead daughter. They bear a striking resemblance to each other, which is later explained as the original Shayera being her mother, as a result of the scandalous pregnancy of 13 year old original Shayera by commissioner Andar Pul. Shayera and Katar take down Byth together, but he escapes to Earth. They follow him, ready for a new adventure to unfold.”
So, aside from the fact his new love interest is an illegitimate daughter of a woman he’d already been (reluctantly) dating, who shares her name and it would seem over a decade younger than him, this isn’t actually that bad! In fact the Hawkworld miniseries was both well done and could have worked perfectly as an updated origin for the Silver Age Hawks post-Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The problem? It was too popular.
DC decided that they should capitalise on the success by making Hawkworld into an ongoing title. The problem was, it was originally an origin story for characters that already existed and the new series ruined it by saying instead of happening in the past, the Hawkworld versions of the characters were happening right now – along side the older versions of the Silver Age Hawks that were still appearing in stories.
“This is the first real continuity issue in the Hawk timeline, since Earth 1 Katar and Golden Age/Earth 2 Carter can easily coexist by operating at different times and being separate people. Earth 1 Katar and Hawkworld Katar, however, cannot. The decision was made that Earth 1 Katar was actually just Carter Hall come out of retirement to be a liason between Justice Society and Justice League, since Hawkman was a member of both. However, the Justice Society, including Hawkman, went into Limbo (literally) almost immediately post-Crisis.”
Yeah, remember that? How could The Silver Age Hawks we’d been reading since Crisis on Infinite Earths have actually been the human Carter and Sheira Hall if the latter were stuck with the rest of the JSA in the everlasting battle they ended up in in Last Days of the Justice Society (1986)? Hell, how could they have been the same character when we’d see them, since Crisis on Infinite Earths, in the same time at the same place?
“Hey, remember that guy from the 1970s? Well, he’s different!”
In 1989, Golden Eagle was retconned as a Californian surfer, unable to hold down a job. The previous connection to Hawkman was gone. Instead, his past was a mystery, just as the origins of his costume and his powers. Nonetheless, he remained connected to the Titans West, and was involved in the “Titans Hunt” storyline, where he was seemingly killed by a member of the Wildebeest Society.
So yeah, now he’s a drifter from California with no past connection to Hawman and no solid origin given. Aside from losing the linkage to Hawkman, most of the stories featuring the character are not contradicted with the new version. This brings most of the Earth-One continuity for the character into align with the New Earth established after Crisis on Infinite Earths.
With his apparent death in 1991 and it was the last we’d see of Parker. When Golden Eagle returned he’d have a whole new origin.
Fun fact: There is a second Golden Eagle that is a member of the Aryan Brigade. This Golden Eagle is very different from the version I’ve covered, since he is equipped with mechanical wings, is a white supremacist and has no relationship with the Hawks.
“No! He is a new character, has been for awhile and he’s a spy!”
Remember way back before Crisis on Infinite Earths I told you about the character Fell Andar and to remember his name? Well, with the reboot of the Universe we got a new version, this time named Fel Andar and way more important to the Hawks ongoing history.
The thing is, the discrepancy caused by making the Hawkworld series ongoing that I mentioned in the last section needed to be resolved. There was a four year gap of Hawk stories that now made absolutely no sense. DC decided the best way to explain it was that the Silver Age Hawks we had been reading about were actually hitherto completely uncovered characters:
Fel Andar came to Earth years ago as a sleeper agent for the planet Thanagar, eventually being called into active service and taking on the identity of ‘Carter Hall Jr.’, the previously unsuspected elder son of Carter Hall, the original Hawkman (who had at that time disappeared along with his comrades in the Justice Society of America) in the run up to an attempted invasion of Earth.
Right. OK, so he was a spy who appeared when Carter Hall disappeared and then pretended to be his son, and who acted and looked just liked the what we thought was Katar Hol. Prior to the Carter Hall disappearing he was somehow… both the Golden Age and Silver Age Hawkman. It made zero sense.
Oh, and it didn’t get any better when they added even more retroactive background to Fel Andar:
In 1947, the Thanagarian siblings known as Andar Nal and Andar Pul arrived on the planet Earth for the purpose of scientific study. Andar Nal met and fell in love with an Earth woman named Naomi O’Neill. The two were married and by 1948, they gave birth to a son, Fel Andar. Andar Nal brought his son back to Thanagar so that he could be raised in the customary Thanagarian tradition.
Many years later, the Thanagarians placed Fel Andar in charge of an undercover espionage mission on Earth. His objective was to gather as much information as he could obtain regarding Earth’s offensive capabilities and report back to Thanagar. Thanagar in the meanwhile, were conspiring with several other alien races in an effort to amass an Invasion force to conquer Earth
Andar had taken a human wife, Sharon Parker who had borne him a son … When Andar began his masquerade as Carter Hall Jr., Sharon was brainwashed into believing she was Sharon Hall, AKA Hawkwoman. Fel and Sharon both became members of the Justice League International for a time, though Sharon eventually discovered Andar’s true identity. He murdered her, but she lived long enough to warn the Martian Manhunter about his deception, and Andar was forced to flee Earth.
So, yes, just like Hawkman we’d been seeing wasn’t either of the two previous Hawkmen, Hawkwoman was also a mindwashed Earth woman named Sharon.
I just don’t really know how to talk about how bizarre this whole explanation was. It does at least have a happy ending:
He was sentenced to life imprisonment for his failure on Thanagar, but got the opportunity to try to reconcile with his estranged son during the Rann-Thanagar War (2005). By this time, Fel had renounced his past and wanted nothing more than peace, but he was murdered by Blackfire.
I think this article detailing Hawkman’s history sums this whole thing up rather well
While solving the problem of Hawkman’s presence during this time, this explanation was widely seen as unsatisfactory, confusing, or at least unnecessarily complex.
“No! He’s of Native American heritage and powered by magic… Kinda!”
As mentioned above, the Hawkworld miniseries lead to an ongoing Hawkworld series:
Hawkman and Hawkwoman arrive on Earth, settling in Chicago during a series called Hawkworld written by John Ostrander, with early co-plotting by Timothy Truman. They’re paraded as Thanagarian heroes as part of an effort to improve relations with Earth post-Invasion, despite Thanagar’s ultimate plans. They eventually become exiled to Earth, adopting new costumes, and in Katar’s case, a respect for the constitution that borders on preachy.
Katar also met Carter Hall and Shiera Sanders who had around this time returned from Asgard with the rest of the Justice Society. These interactions would lead to some rather interesting revelations:
The series relaunched as Hawkman after 32 issues. During this time, they found out that Paran Katar had been to earth before either of them, posing as a friend of Carter and Shiera named “Perry Carter.”
This did a number of things. It now explained that the Golden Age Hawks were actually, apparently, the inspiration for Paran to create the Wingmen. More importantly, though, it seems that Paran didn’t keep it in his pants on Earth:
In one adventure, Carter took an injured Katar to be healed by an old friend, a Cherokee shaman named Naomi (“Faraway Woman”). Katar discovers that she had known Paran Katar, his father. She and Paran fell in love, and the two eloped with the Halls serving as witnesses. Thus, Naomi is his birth mother and Katar is a hybrid Human-Thanagarian.
After Katar was born Paran was recalled to Thanagar, and Katar never met his mother until this point. What this does mean is that even the alien version of Hawkman is now half human!
This is also around the time the concepts of the Avatars was introduced. a mythical prehistoric incarnation and champion of a certain animal species or type in human form. It was explained that both Carter and Katar were incarnations of the Hawk Avatar but for now i’m going to leave all that.
It’s best if we just move on to the bigger event in 1994, Zero Hour, which would throw a lot of this out and make it more complicated in the process.
“NO! Let’s just merge them all together. Throw in Hawkgirl and a God, too…”
During Zero Hour: Crisis in Time (1994), an evil Hal Jordan was messing with time. This caused a few continuity changes, some of which lasted after the story was concluded. One of these was the nature of Hawkman.
Despite the fact they’d returned from their neverending battle, DC still seemed to have it out for the JSA characters:
During Zero Hour, DC tried to sideline the Justice Society, who had returned from limbo. The feeling was that they were too old to sell, and there was no reason to keep redundant characters around. With that in mind, they aged most of the Justice Society to either their actual age (their exposure to superpowers having kept them young for years at this point) or to nothingness.
Prior to Zero Hour we had been introduced to the Hawkgod in the current ongoing Hawkman title. Not only that, he was the reason they could fly:
[The Hawkgod was] one of the Thanagarian “angels” who was chained in one of the Seven Hells, defying the laws of physics and enabling the anti-gravity function to exist within the Nth metal.
The distortions to time and space during Zero Hour are actually weakoning the chains imprisoning the Hawkgod and Katar, Carter and Shiera end up fighting it when all four of them are struck by a beam of energy… and merged into a single entity!
Carter and Shiera, for their crimes of being old, were merged into Katar, who had come to fight in the Zero Hour Crisis, and this physically changes Katar. His wings are now natural, folding into his back, and his eyes are a piercing red, like a hawk.
Yes, it is as batty as it sounds. The idea was that this new version was sort of the culmination of all the previous versions of Hawkman and while he continues to call himself Katar he also now has Carter’s memories too.
This version of Hawkman would become colloquially known as the Hawkgod. Personally, I like the way TV Tropes puts it:
In the wake of Zero Hour, the various incarnations collapsed into the “Hawkgod”, who was essentially an Anthropomorphic Personification of the Hawk-Continuity Snarl.
This version would adventure for awhile but it was not all sunshine and roses and eventually he’d be put out to pasture.
He becomes embroiled in a war of The Red, as the avatar of the Hawk, with the past lives of Carter and Shiera to guide him as well. It turns out that post-Zero Hour, Hath-Set is the avatar of the Snake, this time reincarnated as Helene Astar. As part of his duties as Avatar of the Hawkgod, and because he sometimes hears voices because of the Zero Hour merge, distances himself from Shayera and Naomi.
Underworld Unleashed was a crossover meant to reinvigorate villains, and in some cases, tempt heroes. Neron, the devil himself, comes to tempt Katar with full control of his body, at the cost of his soul. He refuses, but Neron wasn’t just offering it to him. One of the reincarnations took him up on it, but Katar had killed him on the mental plane. Now that that incarnation lost the control of the body, no one had control. Every Hawk Avatar could speak at once, without control, driving Katar insane.
I couldn’t explain it better, which isn’t to say it’s not crazy. There is one important thing that will come up later though due to all this – the new Hawkgod version of Katar split with Shayera.
Hawkman suffered at this time from a relative abandonment of its support cast in favor of Katar being sullen and withdrawn. Post Zero Hour, Katar felt it would only hurt Shayera to be involved with his avatar war, so he kept himself at a distance. This was especially jarring since John Ostrander had just given them a “finally together” happy ending. The literal mashing together of Carter, Shiera, and Katar led to an interesting new ability (Natural wings, rather than a harness), but at the expense of anything resembling the Katar we loved in Hawkworld. This new Hawkman, rather than being a kind and caring, sensitive man, was too wrapped up in his own problems to attend to people around him.
Two years after Zero Hour this bizarre ride ended. With the help of Arion and the Martian Manhunter, Katar chose to enter the Hawk Avatar’s realm to try to come to terms with this new side of him, knowing that he would probably never return.
Of course he would, eventually, but during this time DC declared the character of Hawkman off limits. He was just too complicated, too much of a headache and nothing they did seemed to make it any better.
This forced Grant Morrison to invent his own version…
“Hahaha, nah – he’s an Angel! Not really, but don’t they look similar?”
When Morrison worked on JLA (1997-99) he wanted to introduce a new version of the character, unconnected other than the name, but was forbidden as DC, rightly, thought it was too complicated. As Wikipedia relates:
[Morrison] intended to create a new Hawkman with no links to the old characters. This new Hawkman, an Earth-bound angel of the “Eagle host” named Zauriel, was to be introduced into the JLA with issue #6 (June 1997). Morrison was denied permission to use the name “Hawkman” by DC editorial, which still considered it “radioactive”, due to the complex post-Crisis continuity problems with the character.
In the Wizard JLA Special, Morrison made an appeal to the fanbase, “It’s a good name and it seems a shame to let it go to waste. We’re hoping that fans will figure ‘For God’s sake, let’s just call him Hawkman and get him in the Justice League as Hawkman,’ and the editors will relent. We’re hoping to start a campaign.” DC held firm, and the “Hawkman” name went unused for several more years.
So, while this character wasn’t callled Hawkman and had no connection to the previous continuity, the fact that his creation is so closely tied means Zauriel makes the list. He was still introduced and still joined the JLA, still had wings and used similar weapons. In fact, when he and Aquaman meet for the first time in the midst of a battle the former actually mistakes the latter for Katar.
If you’re interested in the character, he’s actually had a fairly interesting career and you can read more by following these links:
“Oh, you didn’t think we forgot about Hawkgirl did you?”
Now, you may be thinking that I’m going to be talking about Shayera as she was the only one it seems to escape that nonsense with the Hawkgod, right? I mean, Sheira was merged with Carter and Katar so surely her tale is over, right? Right??
It’s like you haven’t been paying attention to how Hawk history works!
The new Hawkgirl we get is called Kendra Saunders. She’s actually a distant relation of the Sheira Hall, being the granddaughter of Sheira’s cousin Speed Saunders, but how she becomes Hawkgirl is actually rather messed up.
Kendra Saunders was a young woman who committed suicide. When her soul left her body, her great-aunt, Shiera Hall’s soul, entered it. Her grandfather, former OSS agent and globe-trotting adventurer Speed Saunders, recognized this change and encouraged his granddaughter to embrace her destiny as the “new” Hawkgirl.
From memory, whether it was the Hawkgod dying or the original merge during Zero Hour that freed Sheira’s soul for this was never clear but let’s just take it at face value for now.
Her eyes also changed colour – because that’s totally how souls work. One of the ongoing issues for the character was that she still believed herself to be Kendra – she had all of Kendra’s memories, after all, and very few of Sheira’s, aside from her fighting skills.
Still believing herself to be Kendra, she debuted as a hero using the original Hawkgirl’s equipment and set out in search of a being called the Fate-Child (actually her own reincarnated son, Hector Hall). This led to a meeting with the Justice Society and Kendra’s induction to that team.
See, she even tied win with all that madness I mentioned back in the Hector Hall section!
Fun fact, when she eventually did learn that her suicide attempt had been successful and that she was mistake as to ‘who’ she was, it was the pseudo-Hawk Zauriel who told her.
It was time for Hawkman to come back.
“OMG, NO! They’re all them – reincarnation explains everything!”
Before we could have Hawkman back we got a bunch of new information about this history, especially about how that whole curse of reincarnation had occurred down the line.
Much of Carter Hall’s post-Hawkworld history is fleshed out in the pages of DC’s JSA (1999-2006) and Hawkman (vol. 4) (2002). These two titles, penned to a great extent by writers David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns, and James Dale Robinson, examine Hall’s previous lives.
The expanded, post-Crisis and post-Hawkworld version of their origin goes as follows:
As prophesied by the wizard Nabu, a spacecraft lands in Egypt. Prince Khufu, Nabu, and the champion Teth-Adam search the desert, finally coming across the remains of a Thanagarian ship styled with a hawk-like motif. Nabu casts a spell translating the strange language of the female space traveler. Just before dying, she whispers the words, “Nth metal”, the name of the substance that powered the downed ship.
Teth-Adam lifts the ship back to Khufu’s palace, where it is studied inside the Temple of Horus at Erdu. The remaining Nth metal is examined, and its most obvious property proves to be its ability to negate gravity. The remaining sample from the ship is melted and used to create several remarkable devices, including a scarab which allows Khufu to fly, a deadly knife, and a battle glove referred to as the Claw of Horus. However, the metal also strengthens the souls of Khufu and Chay-Ara, binding them together in their love and imprinting them with the collective knowledge of Thanagar. Although the villainous priest Hath-Set murders the two with the knife of Nth metal, their souls live on in the mortal plane. They are reincarnated over many lifetimes, always finding true love in each other, but cursed to be repeatedly killed at the hands of a reincarnated Hath-Set.
Along with retconning the ‘ninth metal’ of those original stories to Nth metal from a down Thanagarian spaceship in ancient Egypt, DC identified a bunch of versions of Carter and Sheira (well, Khufu and Chay-Ara, technically) that had existed through history. Some of the, like Nighthawk and Cinnamon were actually existing DC characters who were co-opted into the Hawks history.
Some of the reincarnated identities of Khufu and Chay-Ara depicted in Hawkman (vol. 4) include but are not limited to:
- Brian Kent (also known as the Silent Knight), alive during 5th century Britain, love of Lady Celia Penbrook;
- Koenrad Von Grimm, the son of a blacksmith in 14th century Germany;
- Captain John Smith of the 16th century Colony of Virginia;
- Hannibal Hawkes, the Nighthawk, a gunfighter in the American Old West, love of Cinnamon;
- Detective James Wright, a Pinkerton detective in the early 20th century, love of Sheila Carr.
It’s also posited that Katar and Shayera were just another set of reincarnations. I mean, if you’re already accepting reincarnation is it that crazy to believe people could be reborn on other planets. This was finally a way of tying it all together that made some sense.
This is interesting and all but how, I hear you ask, does it bring Hawkman back to life? Well, it involves Kendra travelling to Thanagar…
Years later, JSA member Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders) was transported to a ravaged Thanagar by the High Priests of the Downsiders. Seeking a champion to stop the evil Onimar Synn from enslaving the planet, the priests used Kendra’s centuries-old connection to Hawkman to bring him back to the mortal plain.
Here’s the surprise though: despite the ritual taking place on Thanagar with Thanagarian priests the version of Hawkman who was summoned was Carter Hall! Now, he did change a bit – he was more muscular and had dark hair, like Katar, and he now had all of Katar’s memories too, but he was definitely Carter (well, kinda – see the Hawkman Special (2008) below.) It was essentially the mind of Carter in a reconstructed body of Katar, and that’s probably the most we could have hoped for.
It certainly caused issues with Kendra, who instead of having too many memories had too few.
She had all of Kendra’s memories, but almost none of Shiera’s. This created tension with Hawkman since he remembered all of their past lives together and believed they were destined for each other. Kendra had been presented as a very troubled young woman, haunted by the murder of her parents by a corrupt cop and confused by her jumble of memories and feelings.
The new team would set up show in St. Roch, Louisiana, and had a bunch of adventures over the years. They participated in the Rann-Thanagar War series, further mentioned below in the update on Shayera Hol, and generally ran around being heroes before their books were once again cancelled.
Shortly after this happened in 2007 it was stated that Katar Hol’s soul has passed on from the realm of limbo, as have his memories that existed in Carter’s mind. Despite this, Carter still existed in a reconstructed version of Katar Hol’s body and now thing really came of this.
“Hey, you know what we need? Another Golden Eagle origin!”
Remember when I said that Fel Andar and Sharon Parker, the false Hawkman and Hawkwoman created to fill the continuity gap, had had a son? Well, the origin of Charley Parker was about to get tied with that and reveal that his real name was Ch’al Andar!
In Hawkman (vol. 4) #43, a new origin for Golden Eagle was introduced. Once an orphan in Midway City’s Sisters of Mercy orphanage, Charley Parker bounced around from different foster homes and orphanages for the better part of his youth, learning life’s hardships along the way. At sixteen, he became a drug courier for Mick Valdare, and was adopted by various foster families. Valdare paid these families handsomely, which allowed Parker, and by extension Valdare, to keep a low profile and to have a front if caught. Parker lived a rich and spoiled life full of fast cars, expensive clothes and beautiful women until he turned eighteen. Valdare fired him because he was no longer a minor (age of criminal responsibility). Parker, desolate, alone and without the luxuries he had grown accustomed to, considered suicide. Hawkman saved him and became a mentor for the young man. On the hero’s recommendation, Parker went to, and found a job opportunity with, Carter Hall, a museum curator and Hawkman’s secret identity. Parker accepted, and was soon exposed to other heroes, including Adam Strange and Hawkgirl.
Parker earned Hall’s trust when he defended Hawkgirl from the Shadow Thief. Hall revealed his secret identity, gave Parker a Thanagarian battle suit that had been discovered by Adam Strange, and began training him to be a hero. Parker, now known as Golden Eagle, finally felt he had a purpose in life. Carter Hall had to leave Earth and left Charley to his own devices. Parker eventually hooked up with the Titans West, but after that team disbanded, he returned to a slacker lifestyle, surfing and performing the occasional odd job to earn money. After discovering that renting out his services as a hero didn’t generate sufficient income, he retired the Golden Eagle identity. Deathstroke asked him to track down some missing Teen Titans members at the beginning of the “Titans Hunt” storyline. During this time, while fighting alongside Aqualad against the Wildebeest Society, Parker was choked to death.
So far so good, sounds a lot like the older versions combined, right?
Fortunately for Charley, his birth father, Fel Andar, had been monitoring his actions for the past several years. He arrived on the beach in a Thanagarian starship and used his advanced alien science to save Charley’s life. Fel and Charley spent a few short weeks together before Fel was recalled back to Thanagar. During that time however, Charley learned of his true heritage and gained a new suit of Thanagarian battle armor.
This experience completely changed Charley’s demeanor. He regarded Fel Andar as a true Thanagarian, and now spurned the teachings of Carter Hall, believing him to be a mockery to Thanagarian tradition. Analyzing his new-battle armor, he began reverse engineering the technology and used it to begin construction on a custom-designed Thanagarian starcraft. It was his intent to one day leave Earth and journey to Thanagar to be with his father.
A year after his resurrection, Charley began developing his skills as a businessman. He needed ready capitol with which to complete construction of his starship, and so he established Ethon Enterprises. Ethon Enterprises proved to be extremely successful, and within a short span of time, he owned several branch offices across the United States.
Three years later, Charley learned that Carter Hall – the original Hawkman, had returned to Earth and was now living in St. Roch, Louisiana. Construction of his starship was nearly complete, but he refused to leave Earth before getting revenge upon Carter for staining the true Thanagarian heritage.
Charley/Ch’al was, as it sounds, going full supervillain.
When Carter Hall was seemingly killed in battle, Parker claimed the right to his legacy, becoming the new Hawkman. He managed to win the friendship of Kendra, and claimed to be the “true” Hawkman’s son (he considered Hall a “false Hawkman”). He showed Kendra a Thanagarian ship he had built using blueprints stored in his Golden Eagle armor, and asked her to follow him to Thanagar. When she refused both his proposal and sexual advances, Parker beat her and exposed the truth about his relationship with Hawkman. On the verge of killing Kendra and replacing her with a Thanagarian maiden, “more suited to his tastes,” Parker was confronted by a very much alive Carter Hall, who miraculously returned for a final showdown with his former protégé.
Naturally all the plans, origin and what not comes out in the fight and, also naturally, Carter smacks Golden Eagle down. After that Carter sent Parker, along with a recording of his confessions, to Thanagar to be judged for his crimes, and he’d only be seen a few more times/
He actually meets Fel Andar, who is now seeking forgiveness for his crimes, again during the Rann-Thanagar War, and while Charley/Ch’al plays a part in the story it’s pretty easy to ignore.
He pops up one last time during Countdown to Adventure (as part of the Countdown to Final Crisis) where he’s now leading Thanagarian troops and encounters Forerunner. She bests him in combat, takes him as her sex slave aboard her pirate ship by right of conquest, and then eventually lets him go to make his own way back to Thanagar.
“Wait, aren’t we forgetting a Hawkwoman..?”
You might be asking whatever happened to Shayera Hol in all of this? Well, she did make a few more appearances. After she split with the Hawkgod she became a cop on Earth before eventually returning to Thanagar. Later still:
Shayera met [the new Hawkgirl, Kendra Saunders, and the resurrected Carter Hall] during her final battle against Byth when the three Hawks, aided by Animal Man, defeated the Thanagarian criminal for good.
She actually also died, finally, during the Countdown to Infinite Crisis in 2005:
In the Rann-Thanagar War miniseries, Shayera Thal reappeared as a reinstated soldier of the Thanagarian Army, last seen fighting with the invasion force of Polara. She considered reborn Hawkman Carter Hall and Hawkgirl Kendra Saunders friends of Thanagar, but grew angry with their ally Adam Strange blaming Rannian science for the destruction of her birth world. Despite this, she reluctantly served alongside him as a comrade-in-arms during the war.
“They’re back on another Earth, resurrected in a new Multiverse!”
Not to be confused with the pre-Crisis Earth-Two, this Earth-2 is the one that came about from the events of Infinite Crisis:
Earth-2 was one of fifty-one divergent realities that branched from the core New Earth reality during the recreation of the Multiverse shortly following the events of Infinite Crisis … The primary heroic group of Earth-2 is Justice Society Infinity, an amalgamation of the older Justice Society of America and Infinity Inc.
So, what do we know about this Hawkman?
Little is known of how this version of Carter Hall differs from his New Earth counterpart, but he was a member of the Justice Society of America and is now a reserve member of Justice Society Infinity. He was one of the members mobilized to hunt down Power Girl when she arrived on Earth-2 by mistake.
Oh, and the Hawkgirl of this world, Shiera Sanders, didn’t get any more attention. Her bio is basically identical to the above.
(Oh, and that’s not another Hawk in the bottom right of that pic – it’s the Earth-2 Northwind, who’s an associate of the Hawks but not part of this mess, really, although they were his godparents! You can read about the New Earth version here.)
“Hey, wouldn’t it be nutty if we’d been lying? Let’s hint at that!”
Carter, returning to space to help during the Rann/Thanagar Holy War, is approached by the Demiurge, a nameless god who inspired Plato into describing his namesake. The Demiurge denounces the cycle of incarnation and rebirths of Khufu and Chay-Ara as lies, simple grafts of the alternate version of Carter and Shiera residing in the different worlds of the multiverse that existed before the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He tells Carter that there are “Six Aberrations” in total, including Hawkman, whose origins are muddled and damaged by the destruction and recreation of the universe.
Carter was moderately impressed, until the Demiurge inexplicably began addressing him as Katar Hol. Nothing appears to have come of this though, and it has since been stated that these events were not as they seemed.
Yeah, so feel free to ignore this.
“Dead! Alive! Reincarnated! No longer reincarnating! WIND ELEMENTALS!”
We finally enter the swan song of the pre-Flashpoint Hawkman and Hawkgirl!
OK, so prior to these events a few things happened. Kendra dated Red Arrow, and following this Shiera Sanders’ soul left Kendra’s body and moved on to the afterlife. Shiera hoped her passing on will finally remove the curse of Hath-Set. Regardless, after breaking up with Red Arrow, Kendra actually ended up with Carter. Then then both were implied to die in Final Crisis but this was later revealed to not have happened.
In Blackest Night #1, Kendra is shown having an argument with Hawkman over whether or not to visit Jean Loring’s grave with the Atom. As the two heroes quarrel, the reanimated corpses of Ralph and Sue Dibny, now members of the Black Lantern Corps, enter Hawkman’s sanctuary. The Black Lanterns attack, Sue impaling Hawkgirl on a spear. Ralph taunts Hawkman, telling him that Hawkgirl never loved him; a claim she refutes with her dying breath. Hawkman is killed shortly afterward, and both heroes are reanimated as Black Lanterns by Black Hand himself.
It was also revealed in Green Lantern #46 that Khufu and Chay-ara’s bodies were taken from Earth by the Zamarons and placed in the violet central power battery. Their love is the source of the Star Sapphire’s powers. The pair receive black rings during the battle on Zamaron. Their escape from the central power battery causes widespread destruction on the planet, enough for the Star Sapphires to abandon the planet, and sets the Predator free; it does not seem to have affected the Star Sapphires’ powers.
In the final battle Hawkman and Hawkgirl are both resurrected by white light but there’s one big change – when Kendra takes off her mask she’s revealed to once again be Sheira! This seems to have corrected her reincarnation as she now remembers all her past lives and she and Carter joyfully reunite!
With the resurrection they have the benefit that they were no longer stuck in their cycle of reincarnation, which sounds nice until you realize what it means is that they can’t come back after they die anymore.
It gets crazier with Brightest Day:
In the Brightest Day crossover, Carter and Shiera follow Hath-Set, who has collected the bones from all of their past bodies, and created from them a portal to Hawkworld. While there, Carter is told by the Entity to “stop the Queen Khea” from leaving. While Hawkgirl is held by Hath-Set and his Queen Khea, Hawkman and his group of the panthera attack the Manhawks homeworld. Hawkman hears Hawkgirl’s cries and charges toward to rescue her. His arrival leads to a confrontation with Queen Khea, who turns out to be the mother of Shiera Hall. During the fight, Queen Khea controls his Nth metal mace and armor, and Hawkman is tied together with Hawkgirl. Queen Khea opens the gateway and enters the portal to the Zamaron homeworld. When she arrives on the Zamaron homeworld, Star Sapphire (Carol Ferris) frees them both to stop Queen Khea’s invasion. The two attack Queen Khea as Hawkgirl wants to face her, but the Predator Entity bonds with the Queen.
Shiera and Carter manage to eventually separate both of them by stabbing Khea at the same time with weapons made of Zamaronian crystals. The bones of the past lives of Hawkman and Hawkgirl separate from the gateway, and, animated by the violet light of love, grab Khea and imprison her in the Zamaronian Central Power Battery. Shiera and Carter, with both of their missions accomplished and lives returned are teleported back to St. Roch by Carol. Carter and Shiera are interrupted by Deadman, whose white ring tells the two of them that they should lead separate lives. Carter refuses and says they are not going to live apart again, the ring responds “So be it” and unleashes a blast of white light that kills Hawkman and Hawkgirl, turning them into dust. Deadman orders the ring to resurrect both Hawkman and Hawkgirl, but the ring refuses, saying that Hawkman was brought back to life to overcome what held him back in his past life because he was essential in saving Earth.
When the ‘Dark Avatar’, made his presence known, Hawkman and Hawkgirl are revealed to be part of the Elementals, guardians of the forest located in Star City. They were transformed by the Entity to become the element of air and protect the Star City forest from the ‘Dark Avatar’, which appears to be the Black Lantern version of the Swamp Thing. The Elementals are then fused with the body of Alec Holland in order for him to be transformed by the Entity into the new Swamp Thing and battle against the Dark Avatar. After the Dark Avatar is defeated, Swamp Thing appears to have brought the Elementals back to normal; however, as Hawkman looks around for Shiera, he discovers that she was not brought back like he was. He is later told by Swamp Thing that Shiera is everywhere, revealing that she was still the elemental of air. Afterward, Hawkman returns home yelling “Shiera!”
“…actually, let’s just start from scratch, OK. Please?”
The new version of Hawkman is Katar Hol and from Thanagar but he calls himself Carter Hall on Earth where he works as an archaeologist. That said, at first he didn’t remember being an alien or any of this, and also he was wanted for murder on his home planet.
Issue #0 explains that Katar Hol was once a proud member of the Thanagarian race, adopted son of their king Thal Provis and lover to the princess Shayera Thal. Unlike other Thanagarians, he was a pacifist; desiring to find an end to centuries of war, he convinced the king to hold a peace conference. However the Daemonites took advantage of this to spread a deadly disease that quickly destroyed all Thanagarians’ wings and killed their king.
The new ruler, son of Provis and Katar’s adoptive brother, Corsar, came to believe that only the Nth Metal could save them, but this desire for power sacrificed hundreds of lives, which was apparently rewarded when Katar was accidentally fused with it creating a full body armor and regenerating his wings. But seeing his brother’s increasing insanity, Katar refused to let the metal power be distributed, leading to fighting between them and the death of Corsar. Shayera then vows to hunt down Hawkman, also blaming him for her father’s death. He runs away in a stolen ship that ends up crashing on earth.
His debut series was complicated by the fact it was mostly arse and while he’s popped up a bunch – punching things in Justice League United and Futures End – there’s not been a lot of backstory beyond this. Oh, and he can store his armour in his body somehow now, which is cool?
Following DC’s 2011 relaunch, Shayera Thal is reimagined as a Supervillain. After erroneously believing her lover Katar Hol has killed her brother, Corsar, Shayera vows vengeance upon Hawkman. But after is discovered Corsar survived and was manipulating the situation Shayera betrays him and saves Katar life, sacrificing her own for it.
It’s worth noting this character’s history is taking place on Earth 2
Kendra Munoz-Saunders is a treasure hunter by profession. Because of her reputation, she was hired by the World Army for a particular project which resulted in the permanent grafting of wings to her back.
Some time later, she met with the Flash in Europe. She was guided by a certain Fate as to where she might find him. Together, they went to Washington, D.C. and fought Grundy, without much success. They were later joined by Green Lantern, and subsequently by the Atom. They were only able to defeat Grundy when Green Lantern carried Grundy out of the Earth’s atmosphere, and stranded him on the moon.
Despite his help against Grundy, the Atom, under orders from the World Army, tried to capture Hawkgirl, but she escaped with the help of the Flash. Green Lantern then returned to Earth after removing the danger of the nuclear missiles that the World Army launched under the advice of Terry Sloan. Unfortunately, he had run out of power, having been separated from the Earth for too long and exerting so much energy. He was saved by Hawkgirl, who caught him in mid-free fall.
Hawkgirl then visited the penthouse apartment of Alan Scott who was still mourning over the death of his partner Sam. Hawkgirl’s detective skills allowed her to discover that Alan and Green Lantern were one and the same. She tried to convince him to join she and the Flash to form a team against the coming danger.
Finally, the New 52 version
So, currently DC are running the weekly Futures End series which is set five years in the future and will lead into the massive Convergence event in April and May. The latter series promises to revisit old versions and we recently saw this reality bending stuff interact with the New 52 Hawkman in Futures End #41.
This is the DC equivalent of “shit just got real, yo.” Personally I can’t wait to see where it goes!
…aaaaaand that’s all I’m going to write on it. They’re complicated but worse they’re not even good complicated. I like the characters and wish they were treated better but it’s a clusterfuck, an absolute omni-fucking-shambles.
As you can see, it’s sometimes confusing, but the right writer can make it all palatable. Hawkworld tends to be maligned because of the continuity mess it created, but it is personally my favorite incarnation of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to see comics of the 90s done right, at least while Ostrander or Truman is on the title.
Obviously not complete or definitive!
Naturally, like any big name DC characters, the Hawks have seen their fair share of alternate or imaginary versions. Other worlds, Elseworld stories, other media or whatever. Here are some of the best:
- Bizarro Hawkman – “me no fly!”
- Hawkmoose – the Hawkman version from Just’a Lotta Animals on Earth-C-Minus.
- Hawkbeast (Gar Katar) – a mash-up of Hawkman and Beast Boy
- Angelhawk (Warren Hall) – a mash-up of DC’s Hawkman and Marvel’s Angel
- Chibi Hawkman! – from Earth 42 and recently seen in Multiversity. Isn’t he adorable?
Anyway, I hope this was helpful! :)
- Your Guide to Infinite Crisis: A Brief History of Hawkman: Part 1 and Part 2
- Agent of S.T.Y.L.E.: The Maces and Masks of Hawkman!
- iFanboy: DC Histories – Hawkman
- Comics, Everybody! comic: The History of Hawkman Explained
- i09 Article: The 10 Hilariously Confusing Origins of Hawkman