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Retro Thursday: Hawkman

by Matthew Price Modified: April 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm •  Published: February 5, 2009

Given Hawkman’s appearance as a semi-regular in “Trinity” and his (SPOILER WARNING) probable demise in Final Crisis #7, now seemed a good time to look back at Hawkman’s rebirth.  Geoff Johns and David Goyer fixed the confused continuity of the character in “JSA.” Then Johns and James Robinson launched him in his own series in 2002.  That series ran with Hawkman as the star until issue #50, when it became “Hawkgirl.” The series was cancelled in 2007 with issue #66.

Here’s my article on the character and the Johns-Robinson series launch, from March 8, 2002:


The Winged Wonder, Hawkman, is back, in DC’s new “Hawkman” No. 1.

The archaeologist known as Carter Hall was known as Prince Khufu in the days he lived in ancient Egypt.

He’s been reincarnated into many lives, each time reunited with his true love, Hawkgirl.

Hawkman recently returned in the pages of “JSA,” in which he helped the Justice Society of America defeat an ancient evil. He met Kendra Saunders, the JSA’s Hawkgirl, upon his revival. But Kendra has no memory of past lives and wants nothing to do with Hawkman.

As “Hawkman” No. 1 opens, Hawkgirl finds that the deaths of her parents may have actually been murders. She’s forced to enlist the aid of Hawkman as they investigate the mystery in the Southern city of St. Roch, a humid metropolis with a web of corruption and intrigue.

Hawkman was introduced in late 1939 by writer Gardner Fox in “Flash Comics” No. 1. His first adventure was penciled by Denis Neville. Later artists on the title included Sheldon “Shelly” Moldoff and Joe Kubert.

Hawkman’s flying powers came from an antigravity belt made of “ninth metal,” later called “nth metal.”

Hawkman and Hawkgirl – introduced in “Flash Comics” No. 24 – fought crime using ancient weaponry, including crossbows, maces, axes, shields and spears.

This series ran until 1949. In 1961, Hawkman was revived in “Brave and Bold” No. 34.

In the “Silver Age,” the period in the 1960s in which DC and Marvel revived many of their 1940s heroes, Hawkman was a visiting policeman from the planet Thanagar.

This Hawkman received several tryouts in “Brave and Bold” before getting a regular feature in “Mystery in Space,” which was followed by Hawkman getting his own title in 1964.

The stories in “Brave and Bold” and “Mystery in Space” are reprinted in DC’s “Hawkman Archives.”

As the second superhero boom came to a close, Hawkman’s title was folded into “Atom and Hawkman” in 1968, which lasted into the next year. Hawkman stayed around as a member of the Justice League of America through most of the 1970s, before getting a short-lived series in 1986.

The next big change for the character was Tim Truman’s “Hawkworld” in 1989. This three-issue prestige miniseries, like “Man of Steel” for Superman or “Year One” for Batman, attempted to give the Hawkman story more modern relevance.

In “Hawkworld,” Katar Hol, the Thanagarian Hawkman, is in conflict with his world’s imperialistic, racist government.

The success of this miniseries led to a “Hawkworld” monthly title in 1990, which brought Hawkman and Hawkwoman to Earth.

“Hawkworld” ran until 1993, when it was replaced by a new “Hawkman” series. This series was plagued by trying to tie up loose ends in Hawkman’s backstory, and eventually had Hawkman become the “hawk avatar,” encompassing all of the Hawkmen of the past.

By the time the series ended in 1996, the backstory of Hawkman had become even more confused, causing DC to take a hands-off approach with the character for a time.

The success of the “JSA” series led writers David Goyer and Geoff Johns to reintroduce the Carter Hall character in issue Nos. 23-25, aptly titled “The Return of Hawkman.”

– Matthew Price

by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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