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A Man Called Hawk...man, Part 1

CINESCAPE offers you a quick primer on the many Hawkmen that litter the DC Multiverse (yes there is, thanks to Hypertime)

By Arnold T. Blumberg     April 11, 2002


Sporting a different headdress, the Golden Age Hawkman saw it through to the end of the FLASH COMICS run with #104.
© DC Comics
Now that Hawkman has been given his own series once again, that age-old continuity question has been bandied about quite a bit - just what is up with Hawkman? Who is it that currently wears the feathery mantle, and how did things get so horribly screwed up? Wasn't the CRISIS and ZERO HOUR supposed to sort this kind of thing out? Yeah, dream on, buddy.

Well, we're here to answer some of your questions, although the answers may only open the door to other mysteries. But one thing is certain, this JSA/JLAer is a bit like the weather in Baltimore: if you're not happy with the current Hawkman, just wait five minutes.

Could that be Ian McKellan's Magneto menacing the winged pair (X-Men movie fans will get it). Or is it Senator Palpatine (note the story title!)?

This time we'll take a look at the Golden Age Hawkman, or Hawkman Numero Uno if you prefer. The very first Hawkman debuted in the pages of FLASH COMICS #1 in 1940, right alongside his colleague, the Golden Age Flash (Jay Garrick, he of the Mercury-like helmet). Hawkman was actually a chap named Carter Hall, who discovered he was the reincarnation of an Egyptian Prince named Khufu. Khufu was an avenging sort who was searching for the reincarnation of the one who killed him, so Carter took up the cause and crusaded against evil with girlfriend Shiera Sanders at his side. She too was a reincarnated Egyptian who would later don the mantle of Hawkgirl.

Will Hawkman and Hawkgirl soon head to Hollywood? Well they did on the cover of FLASH COMICS #85!

Hall adopted the costume that would inspire just about every future version of the character as well, with a head-piece and wings that echoed that of a real hawk. He also wore a belt made of Ninth metal, a discovery of Hall's that defied gravity. And he would need it, because Khufu's murderer was about to arrive in the modern world in the form of Anton Hastor, who threatened Shiera and inspired Hawkman to swing (or wing) into action to rescue her. He then dedicated the rest of his career to the usual tenets of justice, proclaiming that "with a weapon of the past I shall defeat an evil of the present."

Naturally, Hawkman didn't just go it alone in those early days, not when there's a Justice Society of America looking for recruits. Hawkman joined the ranks of the first superteam in the pages of ALL-STAR COMICS, and Shiera first donned her Hawkgirl duds in issue #5 of that series. Together they battled garden variety hoods and super-menaces such as the Raven, the Ghost and the Foil, all of whom turned up to try to confound Hawkman, but to no avail. With his wings and Ninth metal anti-gravity belt, his facility with ancient weapons, and his ability to communicate with birds, Hawkman was a formidable foe...although one wonders just how helpful a flock of seagulls might be in a crisis situation (not the band, a real...forget it).

The Golden Age Hawkman punches out some hoods on the cover of FLASH COMICS #55.

Those are the basics before any universe tinkering, but what of the deeper story, and how did all of DC's massive multiverse machinations foul up Hawkman's now muddled continuity? To get to the bottom of this complex detective story (more of which will be explored in the next installment of this feature), we have to journey back yet again to ancient Egypt and incorporate information that we now know thanks to countless adjustments and "retcon" fixes. In the post-Crisis continuity, we find the aforementioned Prince Khufu, who we presently know to be a Hawk Avatar, imbued with special powers and abilities. In addition, he fashioned a harness out of the mysterious Ninth metal (what, not invented by Carter Hall in the 1940s? Just wait, it gets better), which was bestowed upon him by the god Horus, or a Hawk God depending on who you talk to. Working with a noblewoman named Chay-Ara, the two executed an elaborate plan to rebel against tyranny. In the struggle, Khufu was mortally wounded, but the magic of reincarnation would enable him to face his murderer again.

When the Golden Age Flash debuted, so did the original Hawkman.

Centuries later, archaeologist Carter Hall, the 20th century archaeologist, met Perry Carter (were they running low on names?), a like-minded individual who was actually an alien - a Thanagarian - named Paran Katar. The two shared an interest in anti-gravity, and it was Paran who unlocked the secrets of the Ninth metal. When Hall happened upon a dagger that had originally killed Khufu, he "recalled" his other life and recognized future partner in crime-fighting Shiera Sanders as the reincarnation of Chay-Ara. Once again Anton Hastor, the reincarnation of Khufu's murderer, takes the stage, and Hall donned a costume to defeat Hastor's plans for conquest. Hastor would return again, but this time, Hawkman would be ready for him, both as a solo adventurer and as a member of the Justice Society. He and Shiera even had a son, Hector, who later became the Silver Scarab, continuing the family fascination with all things Egyptian.

Hawkman got involved in the flag-waving patriotism of the '40s (note the flag in the bottom right).

Hector went off to form Infinity, Inc., but when he tipped the public off to his identity, it had the unpleasant side-effect of exposing dad Hawkman's identity as well. Fathers and sons...Hector eventually died at the hands of his father's old reincarnated enemy, and his personal history (and that of his own son, Carter's grandson) became tied up in the complicated universe of Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN and the Endless. That, of course, is beyond our purview here.

So the more things change, the more they stay the same. While the second version of the Golden Age Hawkman's origin detailed above varies from the one we presented first, most the same elements are present. But that's only the beginning. Next time, we'll examine the even more convoluted career of the Silver Age Hawkman, and head straight into what some believe to be the most ill-conceived "fix" in DC history, that pesky ZERO HOUR. The result will be a single Hawkman...but who is he? Be afraid...

TO BE CONTINUED

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