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A Man Called Hawk...man, Part 2

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 13, 2002


Adam Strange and Hawkman shared space, appropriately enough, in the sci-fi anthology title, MYSTERY IN SPACE.
© DC Comics
Last time we took a quick look at the Golden Age Hawkman, both as he was in the beginning way back in the 1940s, and again with some alterations imposed by the 1980s and 1990s DC continuity "fixes" (more of which we'll deal with in our final installment). But now it's time to turn our attention to the "classic" Silver Age incarnation of Hawkman, he who would eventually head straight into the mire that is the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, ZERO HOUR, and a few other retroactive adjustments that would thoroughly muddle both his timeline and that of the Golden Age Hawkman. But who was the this new Hawkman originally? Before his arrival, readers knew only of the Golden Age Carter Hall and his connection with an ancient Egyptian prince whose thirst for vengeance had enabled him to carry his battle and his hawk-like powers through to the 20th century. But now they were about to meet a Thanagarian in an origin inspired by the Silver Age DC's continuing love of sci-fi based adventures.

The Silver Age Hawkman made his debut in BRAVE & THE BOLD #34.

In the newly created Hawkman mythos of the Silver Age, the winged hero was actually Katar Hol from Thanagar, a distant planet orbiting Polaris. His father Paran had invented wearable wings and antigravity belts, which came in handy when a crime wave broke out on Thanagar courtesy of the Manhawks. Katar used his father's inventions to defeat the Manhawks, but the corruption they had seeded in the Thanagarian race led to more crime on a planet that had known nothing of the sort for a long time. Katar and others took on the Hawkman gear as police officers for Thanagar, but Katar and wife Shayera Thal eventually left their homeworld in pursuit of a criminal named Byth. Tracking him to Earth, the two Thanagarians assumed human identities as Carter and Shiera Hall and operated as Hawkman and Hawkgirl just as their Golden Age counterparts had done decades earlier. Amazing coincidence, isn't it? Later, Hawkman would have to fight his own people when they turned to thoughts of galactic conquest, labeling both himself and Hawkgirl as traitors to their own race, but friends to the people of Earth.

Hawkman joined the Justice League in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #31, shortly after their first encounter with their Golden Age counterparts..

In keeping with other DC Silver Age reinventions of Golden Age characters like the Flash and Green Lantern, this new Hawkman shared some traits with his predecessor. For one thing, the Silver Age Hawkman possessed the Golden Age version's skill with ancient weapons and communicative abilities with birds, but he also had an incredible knowledge repository known as the Absorbascon. With all these powers, the new Hawkman was a shoo-in for membership with the Justice League of America, the Silver Age's answer to the Justice Society of years past. Hawkgirl followed him in, and Katar soon forged friendships with the Atom and Adam Strange (who shared a series with Hawkman, MYSTERY IN SPACE, just prior to Hawkman gaining his own title), but found himself clashing regularly with Green Arrow. Hawkman even beefed up JLA technology with some borrowed Thanagarian tricks of the trade. Against such foes as Matter Master, the Shadow-Thief, Kanjar Ro, and a new incarnation of the Golden Age villain, the Raven, the new Hawkman preserved justice time and again. But time would soon turn against him and every other hero in the DC Multiverse...

Hawkman entered the DC Gorilla Cover sweepstakes with HAWKMAN #16.

The Silver Age Hawkman had two try-out appearances in the pages of the DC anthology series, BRAVE & THE BOLD, where the Justice League had itself gotten its start four years earlier. For Hawkman it began with B&B #34, scripted by DC and sci-fi legend Gardner Fox. Hawkman's two runs in B&B #34-36 and #42-44, as well as a team-up with Aquaman in #51 and an appearance in THE ATOM #7, led to an extended stint in another anthology series, the science fiction tinged MYSTERY IN SPACE. Already the home of Adam Strange, MYSTERY served as Hawkman's nest for four issues, from #87-90, before he was finally given his own title in 1964. This only lasted for twenty-seven issues before coming to an end in 1968, but by then Katar Hol's place in the pantheon of DC heroes was assured. As a member of the JLA, Hawkman continued to assist his fellow adventurers against all manner of evil-doers and forged a long and distinguished career. And then all Hell broke loose.

The Silver Age Hawkman also had his own Hawkgirl sidekick.

As we've recently detailed in a previous retrospective, by the time the 1980s rolled around DC was worried. They had built up an enormously convoluted continuity over the years, with alternate Earths as far as the eye could see, multiple incarnations of most of their heroes, and storylines so labyrinthine that even the editors and writers couldn't figure out what was going on. It was time for a massive house-cleaning the likes of which had never been seen before, and it was called CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. But it was only step one of a bizarre journey for Hawkman and his Golden Age predecessor. Thanks to the Crisis, the subsequent ZERO HOUR, and the HAWKWORLD mini-series, Hawkman was about to become a new man...literally! But would it help matters, or only bury the character forever in a morass of mislaid plot threads and muddled memories? Assume the worst.

Katar Hol finally gained his own title in 1964.

Next time, we wrap up our survey of all things Hawkman with a look at where it all went wrong. Keep your wings clean!

TO BE CONTINUED

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