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Wednesday, October 26, 2022 

Hawkman's history explained, or rather, not

Collider ran an article allegedly explaining the Winged Warrior's history since the Golden Age, along with Hawkgirl, but still remains unsatisfying. Here's something they do get accurate enough:
Hawkman's beginning in Flash Comics wouldn't seem to be anything that would destroy DC's space-time continuum of origins down the road. He started off as archeologist Carter Hall, as mentioned above. The latest incarnation of prince Khufu discovered a ninth, or Nth, metal, one that defied gravity, allowing him to fly. Donning a costume with large wings and a golden hawk-like mask, Hall became Hawkman, fighting the evils of crime and Nazis, in no particular order. Thanks to his occupation as a museum curator, Hall had access to the museum's store of ancient weapons that he used in his heroic pursuits. Hawkman was also aided in crime fighting by his companion hawk, Big Red
As I'd once mentioned earlier, that Golden Age Hawkman would adopt some bird mascots, yet not be subject to any of the fish-conversing jokes Aquaman was in the past, is the peculiar part. Obviously, it's good if Carter Hall's stories didn't have to put up with what Arthur Curry's did later, but that doesn't mean Aquaman should've had to be subject to them either, and those who engaged in needless ragging on Curry through ludicrous joking really hurt things going forward.

Now, here's where the news site offers up a real sloppy history description of their own in regards to the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl:
The iconic Crisis on Infinite Earths series in 1985 is when Hawkman's origins truly became problematic. For those unaware, Crisis was a massive revision of DC continuity, one that purged the infinite numbers of Earths - most seemingly created on a whim to serve a storyline - into one single Earth, with a revised timeline. In this timeline, the JSA existed and was active in the 1940s, while the JLA also existed, decades after the JSA's time. So now Hawkman was active in the 1940s but didn't arrive on Earth until the 1980s. A variety of writers took a stab at cleaning up the mess, only to further complicate things.

This Is Where Things Get Confusing

Now with Hawkman's presence in the DC continuity being a source of confusion, what better way to clear things up than to add yet another different origin story? The DC series Hawkworld painted Thanagar as a society that sought to conquer other worlds to better itself. Katar Hol, the son of a Thanagarian official, rebelled against the tyranny, which resulted in Katar and his partner Shayera being exiled to Earth. So follow along, kids. This new Katar Hol just arrived on Earth. But if he's Katar Hol, who was the other Katar Hol? Explanations included that other versions were; the Golden Age version of the characters who are still active after retiring in 1951 a Thanagarian agent named Fel Andar who is sent to spy on the JLA in the 1980s, and simply merging all the different Hawkmen into a "Hawkgod" (but just on an add-hawk basis).
It appears they've obscured a 4-part miniseries by Tony Isabella from 1985 called The Shadow War of Hawkman, and a brief 17-issue series that was launched afterwards (Isabella may have initially written that too, but left because of creative disagreements with the editors), which kept Katar Hol and Shayera Thal's Silver Age backgrounds intact. It was at the end of the 80s when DC suddenly decided to abruptly jettison the origins of the Silver Age Hawks and reboot their origins, and the 1989 Hawkworld miniseries and ongoing series that followed in 1990 were the points where writers began screwing up, ditto the editors. It could also be disputed by some that to call COIE "iconic" is questionable at best, considering it did inevitably lead to damage in the long run.
Finally, the 1999 JSA series came along with a viable solution (for the comics) to the Gordian knot that was Hawkman's mythology. It all begins with the Egyptian prince Khufu - remember him? The series discloses that Khufu discovered a crashed Thanagarian ship, and additionally, every existing version of Hawkman was a reincarnation of Khufu, who was cursed to be reborn eternally and become a hawk-themed hero every time. Only, the very first Hawkman is actually Ktar Deathbringer, pre-ancient Egypt, who chose to be reborn over and over until he has saved more lives than he took as a genocidal Deathbringer. Done? Oh, foolish reader. If only. The Hawkman series of 2018 revealed that Khufu and his wife Chay-Ara reincarnate alright, but not linearly. They reincarnate throughout time and space, showing up on Earth, Krypton, and other planets in past and present. They just can't remember who, when, and where they've been. Clear as mud, right? And that still is only a hawk's eye view, as shown in this detailed "Lives of Hawkman" flowchart.
Well I'm sorry to say, but this "viable" solution does not meet my approval either. Mainly because of all the embarrassingly bad misuse of nearly everyone else in the series, and that it built upon elements from Zero Hour, effectively keeping intact repellent ideas like turning the former part of Hawk & Dove into Extant. Such a premise should've been jettisoned entirely, yet sadly, DC's editors refused, and only led their franchise further down the road to ruin. Of course, let's note that, certainly at first, it was the Silver Age Hawks whose origins were badly tampered with, while all harm inflicted upon the Golden Age Hawks came later, around Zero Hour.

Now, we've reached a situation where Carter Hall's been race-swapped in the Black Adam movie, and if I noticed correctly, actor Aldis Hodge even sports a beard? What a joke. If DC were serious about fixing Hawkman, they'd get rid of all the farces they caused all the way back to the dawn of the 90s. Sadly, they won't. And this Collider article has only come off as one of the most sloppy "research" items ever done. Mainly because it serves as no substitute for a better idea like offering an opinion on whether mistakes of the past should be fixed by dropping various elements dating back to where the damage really began, which, as I noted, was as far back as the end of the 80s, and certainly the dawn of the 90s. Their disinterest in addressing that subject proves they're not dedicated fans of the material.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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