Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hawkman History Makes Character Unique

We are taking a detour from Woody Woodpecker again to visit another bird...Hawkman! I posted this article I wrote at Ezine Articles earlier this week.

Many people feel that Hawkman is a confusing comic book character and that hurts his appeal. I disagree. Hawkman's history is one thing I find appealing about the hero. Let's revisit Hawkman's history and also why he is a rocking super hero.

Hawkman is a superhero who appears in DC Comics. He was created by Gardner Fox and artist Dennis Neville; the original Hawkman first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (1940) in the Golden Age of comics. The first Hawkman was Carter Hall, an archeologist. His girlfriend (later wife) Shiera Sanders became Hawkgirl. Like most Golden Age heroes, Hawkman and Hawkgirl disappeared from comics after World War II.

In the Silver Age, DC introduced new versions of several characters. Hawkman and Hawkgirl were revamped and became aliens from the planet Thanagar. Hawkman and Hawkgirl were interesting because unlike other heroes getting a revamp, their names were very similar to the original Golden Age hawks. The alien hawks were named Katar and Shayera Hol. On earth they went by the more earth-like names Carter and Shiera Hall.

I can certainly see why people get a little confused about Hawkman's history, given the Golden Age and Silver Age hawks were different people yet very similar. However, it was pretty cut and dried in the Silver Age. The alien Hawkman and Hawkgirl lived on Earth-1 and it was revealed the Golden Age heroes from the 1940s lived on Earth-2, a parallel world!

The problems with Hawkman happened after 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths series. You see, at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986, DC merged the parallel worlds in their stories into one world. So, all their Golden Age and Silver Age characters came to live on one earth. That meant that some characters who had duplicates either died or disappeared. For instance, the Golden Age Superman went off to live in a paradise world while the Silver Age Superman lived on.

Originally, Carter Hall and Katar lived on the same earth, and then Hawkworld came in 1989. The Hawkworld limited series retold Katar's origins. It was popular. When the ongoing series started in 1990, the decision was made to reintroduce Katar and Shayera as new characters and have them come to earth for the first time. This is where the confusion really begins. However, all the questions surrounding Hawkman's post Crisis history have been answered.
  1. It was revealed in Infinite Crisis that the changes to Katar and Shayera's history happened because Superboy was punching on the walls of reality.
  2. It was explained in the Hawkworld ongoing series that the Katar and Shayera who joined the Justice League after 1985, appeared in the Millennium series and other comic books, were really a Thanagarian spy and his wife, Sharon. It was later revealed in the last Hawkman series that Sharon was brainwashed into believing she was Hawkgirl.
  3. It was also revealed in the Hawkworld ongoing series (Annual No. 1, to be specific) that the Justice League did have a Hawkman and Hawkgirl in the Silver Age. Carter and Shiera Hall joined the Silver Age JLA and served with them and the JSA.
  4. It was explained in the Hawkworld ongoing series that Carter Hall was close to Paran Katar, Katar's father. When Paran left Earth to go back to Thanagar, he gave Carter and Shiera plans for a Thanagarian teleporter. Later, in the JLA Incarnations miniseries, we see Carter Hall building a teleporter on the JLA satellite.
  5. All of these changes to Hawkman's history have been confirmed throughout the years and remain intact today.
Personally, I loved Hawkworld, the miniseries and ongoing series. I found the 1990s Katar and Shayera to be much more interesting that the original version of Katar and Shayera. I also found it interesting that Carter and Shiera (the Golden Age hawks) were now the JLA's hawk couple. It makes perfect sense that the JSA and JLA would have members who served as liaisons between the teams.

I find Hawkman's history to very clear today. I think many people who say his history is confusing either have not read the Hawkworld series or simply do not like that the Silver Age Katar and Shayera were reintroduced as new characters in 1990. Finally, I see Hawkman's history as a fascinating part of DC Comics and the changes have made the character more interesting than heroes who have straight-forward, boring histories.

Plus, Hawkman has wings and carries a mace. Who doesn't like a winged hero with a mace?

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