Hawkman, created by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville, is one of DC’s oldest characters, dating back to the Golden Age of Comics. Over the course of his career, he has been a member of the publisher’s most visible teams, has taken part in its most important events, and has appeared in live-action and animated adaptations. Nonetheless, all of this exposure hasn’t necessarily converted into respect.
Hawkman’s simple, evocative moniker of “Winged Warrior” appropriately characterizes him as a bare-chested champion who flies and strikes things; but the issue begins when we try to dig much deeper. Sometimes he’s a reborn Egyptian royal, sometimes he’s a Thanagarian cop, and sometimes he’s a muddled mix of those and other identities. The “Death of Hawkman” miniseries just ended, but we’re not ruining anything by assuming he’ll return. (It’s one of his areas of expertise.) As a result, let’s fly with the Pinioned Paladin to explore what makes him soar.
Of course, Hawkgirl gained a broader audience with the animated series “Justice League,” which aired for five years and 91 episodes (including the “Justice League Unlimited” seasons). Hawkgirl was from Thanagar, like in the comics, although her origins were unknown until the Season Two finale “Starcrossed.” There, it was revealed that she was a Thanagarian spy dispatched to gather intelligence for an invasion of Earth. While assisting the Justice League in repelling the invaders, she did so at a high personal cost, severing ties from both planets.
She deceived her fiancé and commanding officer Hro Talak, which is an anagram for “Katar Hol.” Hro was supposed to be Katar at first, but the series’ creators were unsure how fans would respond to a malevolent Hawkman. In any case, Hro Talak perished offscreen, and a more typical Hawkman appeared later in “Shadow of the Hawk.” He was archaeologist Carter Hall this time, and he sought to persuade Hawkgirl that they were the reincarnated forms of two Thanagarians who fell on Earth during the period of ancient Egypt. While the episode portrays Carter as an untrustworthy storyteller, it also strongly hints that he is speaking the truth.
Superheroes aren’t new to ads. There was Superman peanut butter in the 1980s, rival cereal varieties in “Dawn of Justice,” and the Avengers have recently been battling in and around Audi vehicles. Nonetheless, Hawkman has one of the strangest superheroic endorsements we’ve seen. When DC deemed him too “radioactive” for usage in mainline comics in 1997, a schlubby live-action Hawkman appeared in a commercial for Baby Ruth candy bars.
Although the production qualities are (maybe purposefully) low and the tone is obviously off-kilter, the Hawkman suit itself is a very close match to the current comics’ design, and the narrative even mentions old Hawkman rival Lionmane.
Way More Super
We recall two major Superman/Hawkman battles. The first appeared in Gerry Conway’s 1982 issue of “Justice League of America” vol. 1 #200. Hawkman (in a story illustrated by Joe Kubert) had to stop the Man of Steel from obtaining a Kryptonite meteor when the Appellaxian aliens (whose invasion spurred the League’s formation in the first place) returned and mind-controlled the original Leaguers. He was able to hold his own for approximately a page. Hawkman, ironically, though he was fighting a Superman robot until he learned, too late, that it was the real Superman with a near-transparent lead covering. Superman knocked Hawkman out, but that was the extent of his damage.
Hawkman received some retaliation in 2003’s “Superman/Batman” #4 (Jeph Loeb wrote it, Ed McGuinness penciled it, and Dexter Vines inked it.) Using the mystical Claw of Horus, which drew power from the Earth’s magnetic core, Hawkman was able to amplify his punch exponentially. “I just struck you with the planet,” he stated as he propelled the bewildered Superman into the snow-covered earth. Is he powerful, to quote another hero’s theme song? Listen, bud, he was born with Nth metal in his veins!
There’s a reason Hawkman is so strongly associated with the Justice Society of America: he never missed a meeting during the Golden Age. Hawkman was one of the eight superheroes who debuted with the JSA in Winter 1940’s “All-Star Comics” #3. Several new members were recruited to the squad during the duration of its Golden Age period. Beginning with issue #5, the JSA also mandated that any character with his own book (rather than appearing in an anthology like “All-American Comics” or “Flash Comics”) be designated as an “honorary member.” Most notably, the Flash and Green Lantern, who each had their own Golden Age novels, were affected (“All-Flash” and “Green Lantern,” naturally).
However, because Hawkman didn’t have his own title until the Silver Age, he was able to appear with the JSA in all of their “All-Star” adventures, including the final one (February-March 1951’s issue #57). The Atom got close, but he missed two issues. Hawkman was also the chairman of the JSA beginning with “All-Star” #6. In fact, we doubt any other figure on a big all-star squad can match that level of leadership and attendance.
Foundations of Flash & Arrow
Hawkman made his début in “Flash Comics” issue #1, published in January 1940, with Johnny Thunder and (not surprisingly) the Flash himself, Jay Garrick. As a result, it was only fitting that Hawkman joined The CW’s superhero roster in the December 1, 2015 episode of “The Flash.” The episode was titled “Legends of Today,” and it featured Hawkman against both the Flash and the Green Arrow. While Flash buffeted Hawkman with super-fast wind gusts, GA grounded him with a shower of ordinary arrows and one rope arrow.
Fighting with Green Arrow, albeit primarily verbally, is another Hawkman trademark. After Oliver Queen’s riches were squandered in the early 1970s and he became a more liberal activist, he and the conservative Katar Hol shared a lot of interests.