Comic Book / Hawkman

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"With a weapon of the past, I shall defeat an evil of the present."

Hawkman is one of the oldest of DC Comics' superheroes, having been created in 1940, during The Golden Age of Comic Books. He's also one of the most infamous cases of Continuity Snarl in the world of comics.

As originally envisioned, Hawkman was really archeologist Carter Hall, who discovered that he was actually the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince named Khufu, and that he had been murdered long ago by an evil priest along with the woman he loved. Furthermore, both the priest and his lover had also been reincarnated, and the former had now captured the latter! Arming himself with equipment found at a museum, as well as using an anti-gravity metal called "Ninth metal" (later renamed Nth metal) to fly, Carter created the costumed identity of Hawkman to go rescue her. She would later join him in his adventures as "Hawkgirl". Hawkman would also become one of the founders of the first superhero group, the Justice Society of America. Hawkman was the only hero to appear in every single Golden Age JSA story. When Alan Scott/Green Lantern left the group, Hawkman was elected chairman and remained so for the rest of the JSA's run in All-Star Comics.

Hawkman's feature in Flash Comics ended when that book was canceled in 1949. He continued to appear in All-Star Comics until that book was cancelled in 1951, bringing DC's Golden Age of superhero comics to an end. During The Silver Age of Comic Books, he was reinvented, this time as Katar Hol, a law enforcement agent from the planet Thanagar (conveniently inhabited by Human Aliens) who came to Earth (along with his partner and wife Shayera) to study Earth's crimefighting techniques, and they assumed the identities of museum curators Carter and Shiera Hall. They also acted as superheroes (using their Thanagarian uniforms) and became known as Hawkman and Hawkgirl (later renamed Hawkwoman). They soon joined the Justice League, the modern version of the Justice Society, and even met the original Hawks during the League's team-ups with the Society (which was established as having existed in the parallel universe called Earth-2.)

(At around this time, Hawkman appeared on Challenge of the Super Friends. Since no one on that show was allowed to throw a punch, his prowess was portrayed as ... somewhat less than stellar. Basically, he could fly, and that's it — which for a super hero is like being able to tie your shoes.)

Up to this point, there was no real confusion over the Hawkman characters. It all started after DC decided to Retcon their universe with the Crisis Crossover called Crisis on Infinite Earths. All of DC's titles were supposed to undergo a reboot afterwards; but due to poor editorial overseeing, some titles were rebooted but others were not. More specifically, the original Silver Hawkman was initially still around after the Crisis, even having his own ongoing series again. However, in 1989, Tim Truman and John Ostrander wrote a miniseries called 'Hawkworld'; the idea was not to remove or recton the Silver Age Hawks as they were now, but rather to give their origin a more modern update. However, for whatever reason, it was decided that Hawkworld would turn out to have taken place in the present day, thus completely rebooting the Hawks, despite such a change occurring 4-5 years after Crisis. In the end, Silver Age Hawkman was reinvented as a Darker and Edgier character who had only recently arrived on Earth—but due to this change happening several years after the Crisis instead of right after it, Hawkman was still supposed to have been a member of the League for years! They explained this by claiming that the winged heroes in the League were actually the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl (since all DC characters now existed in one universe) and, later, that a Thanagarian spy had joined the team as Hawkman.

When DC decided to fix its post-Crisis mistakes with another reality-changing crossover (Zero Hour!) somebody came up with the idea of having the various Hawks... merged into a single being, known as the "Hawk-god". This idea was poorly received and his series was soon cancelled. DC was so desperate over the mess that they actually forbade anybody from using the character for years. (Which is why Grant Morrison was forced to create/sub in Zauriel when he was writing JLA.)

When the Justice League animated series was made, it was decided that Hawkgirl, rather than Hawkman, would be a member (leading to an entire generation that consider Shayera, rather than Katar, to be "the" Justice League Hawk.) A Hawkman expy, Hro Talak, was introduced in the series as her former lover and a bad guy! Even later, an actual Hawkman character (Carter Hall, following a variation of the Golden Age reincarnation origin) was also introduced in the cartoon.

Back in the comics, DC tried to exploit Hawkgirl's post-cartoon popularity by having (a variation of) her take over the new Hawkman comic book, but it didn't work and it too was soon canceled. Hawkman was finally brought back in the pages of the new Justice Society comic series, with a new origin that explains that both Khufu and his mate have reincarnated many times, including as Katar and Shayera.

In 2011, the entire DC Universe was rebooted, erasing all the history (good or bad) of most characters including Hawkman, hopefully ending the confusion for good. Hawkman had his own self-titled book, and Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders again) is featured in James Robinson's Earth-2.

Hawkman and Hawkwoman appear as members of the Justice League on the Young Justice series. Hawkgirl is a playable character in Injustice: Gods Among Us. Hawkman was also a recurring character in the late seasons of Smallville, played by Michael Shanks. Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders version) and Hawkman (Carter Hall) will appear in the Arrow spinoff, Legends of Tomorrow, played by Ciara Renee and Falk Hentschel, respectively.


This character(s) provides examples of the following:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Carter sometimes comes across as Indiana Jones crossed with Conan the Barbarian.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Shayera calls Katar "peacock". In return, Katar calls her "magpie".
  • Affirmative Action Legacy: Kendra Saunders was half-white and half-Latina, in contrast to previous, white Hawkgirls.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The first issue of the Hawkworld mini-series begins with a hawk feeding a lizard to her babies. Then the mother hawk ends up getting eaten by a humanoid alien lizard.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: To Marvel's Falcon, or arguably Angel from the X-Men.
    • In the Golden Age, Marvel's predecessor, Timely, published a similar hero named Red Raven.
  • Anti-Hero: Carter Hall is a well-educated, suave, intelligent, and otherwise nice guy to be around. Hawkman on the other hand fights like Conan the Barbarian, and is not especially careful about injuring his supervillains, which he is likely to do thanks to his enhanced strength and weapons. Still, Hawkman is a fundamentally good person, he just occasionally lapses at times. In Hawkman v4 it was a constant personal struggle between being a man who upheld the law and acting like the warrior of violent times he'd been in his many past lives.
  • Animal Talk: Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman can talk to birds as a result of side-effects from using the Absorbascon. Unlike Aquaman, they can't command them but rather use them as spies and snitches.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Hawks, naturally. Wings and all.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The "Nth Metal" from which the Hawks' wings are made.
  • Archnemesis: Hath-Set to Carter and Shiera/Kendra.
    • The Gentleman Ghost is often Carter and Shiera/Kendra's archenemy.
    • Byth to Katar and Shayera.
  • Flight: With artificial wings in the comics, and natural ones in the cartoon.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Count Viper switched bodies with Shayera. Then he used her body to switch with Katar's. Viper-in-Katar imprisoned him/her, while Viper's henchmen tried to rape him/her! Katar-in-Shayera kicked their asses and was reunited with Shayera-in-Viper. With the help of his mother, Katar, Shayera, and Count Viper entered the "spirit level" to fight each other, and returned back into their own bodies.
  • Fusion Dance: The Hawk God.
  • Genetic Memory: Nth metal contains the racial memories of Thanagarians, which they passed on to Carter and Shiera Hall.
  • Gentleman Thief: Gentleman Ghost
  • God Guise: In one issue, Katar Hol was mistaken for the god Horus.
  • Grand Theft Me: The spirit of Hath-Set, Carter and Shayera's worst enemy (the one who killed them in their first life in Egypt), can possess any of his descendants. Because his genes have had over five-thousand years to spread, that means approximately half of the human race.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: The Absorbacon
  • Living Shadow: Shadow Thief.
  • Love Triangle: Katar/Hawkman, Shayera/Hawkwoman, and Mavis Trent
    • In recent continuity there was a bit of a triangle between Carter, Kendra and Roy Harper (Red Arrow).
  • Magical Native American: Katar Hol and his human mother.
  • Mondegreen: Two characters with similar names: Hyathis (queen of planet Alstair) and Hyanthis (Shayera Thal II's maternal grandmother)
  • Police Are Useless: Wingmen are corrupted.
  • The Power of Love: Hawkman and Hawkwoman/Hawkgirl
  • Race Lift: George Emmett gone from white (pre-Crisis) to black (post-Hawkworld).
  • Red-Headed Hero: Hawkwoman generally has red hair.
  • Reincarnation / Reincarnation Romance: Khufu/Carter and Chay-Ara/Shiera/Kendra. They are reincarnated Egyptian nobles who were murdered but found each other again in modern times. In fact, thanks to an Nth Metal dagger, they are both cursed to meet, fall in love, and die tragically in each life.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: Byth, when he turned into a giant dinosaur-like Brontadon.
  • The Rez: Paran Katar met Faraway Woman in one.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Most of Katar and Shayera's enemies (including Shadow-Thief, Lion-Mane, Fadeaway Man, etc.) now become Carter and Kendra's enemeis.
  • Romantic False Lead: Hawkman is reduced to this in the animated series.
  • Screw Destiny: Kendra Saunders
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Thasaro in Elseworlds Legend of the Hawkman.
  • Secret Keeper: Commissioner George Emmett (he's gave Katar and Shayera their Earth names and jobs as museum curators)
    • Charley Parker (before becoming Golden Eagle)
  • Self-Made Orphan: A drugged Katar Hol killed his father because his soon-to-be archenemy Byth told him he was smuggling weapons. Katar found out his dad was smuggling food and medicine to the oppressed lower-class citizens. Katar was around 18 at the time.
  • Wall of Weapons: Hawkman's own personal armory.
  • Wedding Ring Defense: Played with in one Silver Age story. Carter Hall points out to a nosy co-worker that while he and Shiera might resemble Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Hawkgirl doesn't wear a wedding ring and Shiera does. He doesn't bother telling the guy that Thanagarian women wear wedding earrings instead (and yes, Hawkgirl's outfit includes those).
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Midway City is in Michigan. Or is it Illinois? Averted with St. Roch, which is explicitly in Louisiana.
  • Will They or Won't They?:
    • Katar Hol and Shayera Thal (Post-Crisis)
    • Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders/Shiera Hall.
      • They actually consummated their relationship after being resurrected in the finale of Blackest Night, as Kendra Shayera now has memories of all of her past lives, like Carter had always had in his current incarnation. Then she died again.
    • John Stewart and Shayera in the DCAU.
  • Wind from Beneath My Wings: A standard attack form for Hawkman.
  • Winged Humanoid:
    • Manhawks and Feitherans.
    • In The Dark Knight Strikes Back, Hawkboy and his sister have real wings on their backs.
    • Wingors that are gorilla-like aliens with wings.
    • Thanagarians (DCAU)
  • You Can't Fight Fate: That's what Kendra Saunders was trying to do. It didn't work out.
  • You Killed My Father: Katar actually killed his father, but he had no idea it was him. Byth tricked him into thinking he was selling weapons to the Downsiders.
    • In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Katar and Shayera were killed by Lex Luthor. Hawkboy and his sister want revenge.
    • In Hawkworld issue 2, Katar killed R'd Nar's brother because he was making a wing harness and thought he was going to escape without him. To his horror, he learned that he was making them for Katar and has natural wings. Though, R'd Nar doesn't hold it against Katar because he was in drug withdrawal and his brother wasn't afraid to die.

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