Hawkman

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Hawkman is a comic book superhero in the DC Comics universe. He is characterized by a costume with large, usually-artificial wings on a harness, and a belt with a special metal which allows him to fly, and often by his use of archaic weaponry. The name "Hawkman" has been applied to multiple fictional characters.

Hawkman is also the name of several comic book series starring the various men who have used the name.

Hawkman is also the name of a rapper who collaborated with trip-hop artist Tricky.

Contents

Publication history

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The Golden Age Hawkman, from Flash Comics #71 (May 1946). Art by Joe Kubert.

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, who had in the modern day discovered that the mysterious "Nth Metal" ("nth" rhymes with "plinth") 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. An archaeologist by trade, Hall uses ancient weapons from the museum of which he was curator in his efforts.

Hawkman was a charter member of the Justice Society of America, beginning with All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940). In issue #8 he became the JSA's chairman, a position he would hold until the end of the JSA's run in All Star Comics. He was the only member of the JSA to appear in every adventure in All Star Comics during the Golden Age of comic books. He romanced his reincarnated bride, Shiera Saunders, who also became the crimefighter Hawkgirl. His adventures were memorably drawn first by Sheldon Moldoff and later by Joe Kubert.

Along with most other superheroes, Hawkman's Golden Age adventures came to an end when the industry turned away from the genre in the early 1950s. His last appearance was in All Star Comics #57 (1951).

Later in the decade, DC Comics under editor Julius Schwartz decided to revive a number of heroes in new incarnations, but with the same names and powers. Following the success of The Flash, Hawkman was revived, this time as an alien policeman from the planet Thanagar, though his powers were largely the same. Created by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert, this Hawkman, Katar Hol, came to Earth with his wife Shayera - Hawkgirl (later Hawkwoman) - in pursuit of a criminal, and remained to fight crime on Earth. They adopted the named Carter and Shiera Hall and became curators of a museum.

This Hawkman became a member of the Justice League of America, where he often verbally sparred with the iconoclastic liberal hero Green Arrow. In the 1960s it was revealed that the original Hawkman lived on the parallel world Earth-Two, and that Katar Hol lived on Earth-One. The JLA and JSA had an annual meeting throughout the 1960s and 1970s during which the two heroes often met.

The Silver Age Hawkman had his own series for a few years, but with declining sales it was merged with that of The Atom. Hawkman and The Atom lasted only another year or so before cancellation.

In the late 1970s in Showcase and World's Finest Comics, Thanagar went to war with the planet Rann (adopted home of Adam Strange). This led to Hawkman and Hawkgirl severing ties with their homeworld, and later fighting The Shadow War of Hawkman (written by Tony Isabella) as Thanagar tried secretly to conquer the Earth.

The landmark 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths resulted in a massive revision of much DC continuity and led to many characters being substantially rewritten. Hawkman was to suffer some of the greatest confusion as successive writers sought to explain his various appearances. In the revised timeline there was a single Earth which had witnessed the JSA in the 1940s and the JLA decades later. Successive revisions sought to establish exactly who had been Hawkman and Hawkwoman at different stages. For the first few years the pre-Crisis incarnations were still used, during which time they were prominent across the DC Universe and joined the latest incarnation of the Justice League. Then DC decided to reboot Hawkman, in a pair of series entitled Hawkworld, originally by Tim Truman, and later John Ostrander and Grant Miehm. In this series, Thanagar was a class society which conquered other worlds to enrich itself. Katar Hol was the son of a prominent official who rebelled against the status quo. He and his partner Shayera were sent to Earth and remained there for some years until Hol was apparently killed.

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Hawkman_Morales.jpg
The reborn Carter Hall in the new Hawkman series. Art by Rags Morales.

This created a host of continuity errors as the new Katar Hol was established as having only just arrived on Earth, raising the question as to who had been around previously. As an attempt to resolve the problem it was established through retcons that the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman had also operated during the 1940s, and that ninth metal came from Thanagar. They had remained active and then joined the original incarnation of the JLA. Moreover, yet another Hawkman - Fel Andar, a Thanagarian agent - had been the one who joined the Justice League during the 1980s, pretending to be a hero but secretly seeking to infiltrate it.

The series Zero Hour muddied the waters further by merging the different Hawkmen into a "hawk god", who had his own series briefly during the mid-1990s, and who had a small role in the alternate-future series Kingdom Come.

In the later 1990s, the series JSA untangled Hawkman's continuity, establishing him as Carter Hall, a man who - along with Shiera - had been reincarnated dozens of times since his life in ancient Egypt, and whose powers were derived from Thanagarian ninth metal. The Katar Hol of Hawkworld had also come to Earth during the 1990s, as established. The 1980s imposter spy went back to Thanagar. The status of the hawk god is unclear.

With this new continuity, Hawkman was again reincarnated and given a new series entitled Hawkman, written by James Robinson and Geoff Johns, with art by Rags Morales.

Fictional biographies

The Golden Age Hawkman (Carter Hall)

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The Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl, from Flash Comics #37 (January 1943). Art by Sheldon Moldoff.

In the days of ancient Egypt, Prince Khufu was engaged in a feud with his rival Hath-Set. Hath-Set eventually captured both Khufu and his consort Shiera, and killed them. Millennia later, in 1940, Khufu was reincarnated as American archaeologist Carter Hall, and Shiera as Shiera Saunders. Hath-Set himself was reincarnated as a scientist named Hastur. Hastur turned to evil, while Hall regained his memories of his past life and recognized Hastur.

Using the properties of "ninth metal" to craft a gravity-defying belt, Hall created wings and a costume and confronted Hastur as Hawkman. He also encountered and remembered Shiera during this time, and following Hastur's defeat the two began a romance.

Hawkman was a charter member of the Justice Society of America, and became their permanent chairman, following The Flash and Green Lantern. Shiera, meanwhile, adopted the identity of Hawkgirl and fought beside Hall throughout the 1940s.

Hawkman was JSA chair in 1951 when the JSA was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee for possible Communist sympathies and asked to reveal their identities. The JSA declined, and Hawkman and most of the JSA retired for the bulk of the 1950s.

(One piece of retroactive continuity fills out early Hall history. All-Star Squadron Annual #3 states that the JSA fought a being who 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.)

The JSA and Hawkman reactivated in the early 1960s following The Flash's meeting with his counterpart on the parallel world Earth-1, the JSA being active on Earth-2. Around this time, the Halls, having married, had a son, Hector, who would later become the Silver Scarab and after that an incarnation of Doctor Fate. Little is known of Hawkman's activities during the 1960s, other than the JSA's annual meeting with Earth-1's Justice League of America.

In the early 1980s, Hawkman was instrumental in denying his son and other JSA children membership in the JSA, leading directly to the formation of Infinity Inc.

Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, some of Hall's history was retconned, when the parallel worlds were combined into one. It was established that he joined the Justice League shortly after its formation to be a liaison between the two teams. He remained active until the early 1990s, before being killed in the Zero Hour crisis. He was later reincarnated as the Modern Age Hawkman (see below).

The Silver Age Hawkman (Katar Hol)

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The Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl, from Hawkman (First Series) #3 (August-September 1964). Art by Murphy Anderson.

Katar Hol is an honored police officer on his homeworld of Thanagar. Along his wife Shayera, they use the antigravity Nth metal and their wings to fight criminals. These were the tools of an elite police unit tasked to track and apprehend the most dangerous criminals. The pair were sent to earth in 1959 to capture the shape-shifting criminal Byth. Following this mission, they elected to remain on Earth to work with authorities in the United States and learn human police methods. The two adopted covers as a pair of museum curators, Carter and Shiera Hall, and acted publicly as the heroes Hawkman II and Hawkgirl II.

Hawkman II joined the Justice League of America in the early 1960s, where he befriended The Atom and frequently sparred with Green Arrow with whose "question authority" outlook the lawman frequently disagreed. Like his contemporary heroes, Hawkman II gained a variety of unique villainous opponents, including Shadow-Thief, and the Gentleman Ghost.

Hawkman II left the JLA for a time when Thanagar was hit by the Equalizer Plague, which caused all Thanagarians to change so that their physical and mental talents, and even their heights, became the same. With the help of the JLA, Hawkman II was eventually able to reverse the effects of the plague.

However, in the wake of the plague, Thanagar adopted an expansionist outlook, and went to war with the planet Rann, which orbits Alpha Centauri. This forced Hawkman II and Hawkgirl II to choose to fight for or against their own planet, and they elected to oppose Thanagar, becoming exiles on Earth. Around this time, Hawkgirl II herself joined the JLA, and took the name Hawkwoman.

Following the truce between Thanagar and Rann, Thanagar began to secretly try to take over the Earth. Hawkman II opposed their efforts in a furtive "secret war" for several years.

Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hawkman II (and Hawkgirl II/Hawkwoman) was wiped out of DC Comics continuity. (However this elimination did not take place immediately, causing the many continuity uncertainties mentioned above.)

Hawkworld and the Hawk God

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hawkman II was rebooted in a series named Hawkworld. Katar Hol is a young police officer on the planet Thanagar, and a child of a privileged family. But Thanagar is a planet which conquers and mines other worlds for their resources to maintain its high standard of living, and Hol realizes that this is wrong. He rebels against the system, and is sent into exile. However, he manages to escape and uncover and defeat the renegade police captain Byth, who had gained shape-shifting abilities. As a result, he is reinstated in the force and given a new partner, Shayera Thal - Hawkwoman - a young woman from a lower class of society.

The two are eventually sent to Earth, where they remain for some time fighting both human and alien criminals. The two have a tempestuous working relationship, and eventually Shayera breaks away from Hawkman II, who continues on alone.

This Hawkman was killed in the Zero Hour, event, merged with a number of alternate Hawkmen into a "hawk god", who adventured for a brief time under the name Hawkman before disappearing.

The Modern Age Hawkmen (Carter Hall / Fel Andar / Katar Hol)

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Hawkman33.JPG
The Modern Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl, from Hawkman (Fourth Series) #33, December 2004. Art by Kevin Nowlan.

In the days of ancient Egypt, Prince Khufu and his consort Chay-Ara were travelling in the desert in the company of the wizard Nabu and the hero Teth-Adam, when they came across the wreck of a Thanagarian space ship. The vessel was styled with a hawk-like motif, and powered by Nth Metal, a mysterious substance with many marvelous attributes. Most obviously, it negated gravity, but its energy also strengthened the souls of Khufu and Shayera, binding them together in their love. Nabu used the Nth metal to create several remarkable devices, which persisted through the ages.

When the pair were murdered by the villainout Hath-Set, their souls lived on and were reincarnated over many lifetimes, always finding each other and often dying violently together, usually at the hands of the reincarnated Hath-Set. Finally, in the late 1930s, Khufu and Shayera were reborn as Carter Hall and Shiera Saunders, who went on to become the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl (see above). The pair retired in the early 1950s, but became active again in the early 1980s when Hall briefly joined the Justice League of America. Then the pair retired again.

Late in the 1980s a Thanagarian spy called Fel Andar arrived in Earth to infiltrate the Justice League as Hawkman II. Then he took on an unwitting earthwoman, Sharon Hall, as his Hawkwoman. This impostor, intending to gain his teammates confidence, claimed to be Carter and Shiera Hall's son Carter Hall, Jr. He was actually working for the future alien-alliance Invasion. When Hawkwoman learnt about the masquerade she exposed the truth to J'onn J'onzz and Maxwell Lord. Confronted by both, Hawkman II scaped back to Thanagar but not before murdering Hawkwoman for her betrayal.

Soon thereafter, Hawkman III arrived on Earth. Katar Hol was a policeman from Thanagar, part of a force which used the hawk as their symbol, and also had a winged, gravity-defying harness. He and his partner Shayera Thal fought crime on Earth as Hawkman III and Hawkwoman II until he was killed in the events of Zero Hour, then merged with Carter and Shiera Hall in a new Hawkman version, which briefly created the "hawk god" creature.

In the late 1990s a new hawk appeared, Hawkgirl II: This was Kendra Saunders, the great-niece of the original Hawkgirl (Shiera Saunders). It turned out that Kendra, a troubled youth, had committed suicide as a teenager. The wandering soul of Shiera had taken up inhabitance of the body, possessing all of Kendra's memories, and believed herself to be Kendra.

A few years later, in a mystical ceremony on Thanagar where the Justice Society had travelled to learn the truth of the Thanagarian ship which had crashed in ancient Egypt, Carter Hall was reborn as his youthful self from the 1940s, except with black hair instead of blond. Following this unorthodox resurrection, Hall has all the memories of his past lives, as well as those of Katar Hol, and find this a great burden to bear. Moreover, he has had trouble accepting that Kendra is not his beloved Shiera, a source of friction between them despite their working partnership as Hawkman and Hawkgirl II.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl II are both currently members of the Justice Society, and operate out of the fictional southern city of St. Roch (clearly based on New Orleans, Louisiana).

Powers & abilities

All incarnations of Hawkman use a metal (called either "ninth metal" or "Nth metal") to defy gravity and allow them to fly. The metal is in their costume's belt, and its abilities are controlled mentally. Their wings allow them to control their flight, though they can be "flapped" through use of shoulder motions.

The Silver Age Hawkman also had enhanced eyesight comparable (it was said) to a hawk's. He (and, sometimes, the Golden Age Hawkman) was also able to converse with birds, though he couldn't command them as Aquaman could sea creatures.

The Silver Age Hawkman also possessed a Thanagarian police space ship and a variety of science fictional weapons.

All versions of Hawkman preferred to use archaic weaponry - particularly maces, nets, spears and shields - rather than modern or futuristic weapons. The current incarnation prefers this in part because, having the memories of living through many past lives, he is more proficient in their use than with contemporary weapons.

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