Art by Prentis Rollins (2017, Commissioned by Tim Board)

Aug 14, 2018

All About That Mace: A History of Hawkman and Hawkgirl's Iconic Weapon

Art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez

When superhero fans think of a superhero, they often think of the weapons as much as the heroes themselves. Heroes such as Thor (Mjolnir hammer), Wonder Woman (magic lasso), Captain America (shield), and Batman (batarang) are some of the most well-known weapons. When a fan thinks of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the mace is often mentioned. During their long history, they have been associated with many weapons and gadgets. During the Golden Age, Hawkman often used a wooden quarterstaff. During Hawkworld, the Katar became one of his main weapons. During the 80s, the spear became one of Hawkgirl’s primary weapons. But there is no denying that the weapon most often associated with Hawkman and Hawkgirl is The Mace. Carter Hall’s mace recently had a prominent appearance in Scott Snyder’s Metal series, and a new version of The Mace has been featured in Robert Venditti’s Hawkman series. Let’s take a look at the Mace and see how it has been used over the 79-year history of Hawkman.

Art by David Finch

Before going into The Mace in Hawkman’s history however, I thought we need to take a look at the history of the weapon itself. I quickly discovered that this weapon has a history that is way too long and deep to be covered fairly here. It’s a fascinating subject that I could probably write a thesis on someday, but I’ll just stick to the basic points here. The first mace appeared during the Stone Age and since we now know that Hawkman’s origin goes back to the dawn of man, it’s possible that he has been using the mace from the very beginning. There have been three basic kinds of maces that have been used by the Hawks: the flail, the mace, and the morning star.
After spending a few days googling and searching the topic, it seems that there is no definitive answer that everyone agrees on. It appears that many flails and maces depicted in art and historical records didn’t actually exist, but were glorified stories of the weapons. However, there seems to be a general agreement of the weapons that were actually used. Here’s the explanation of the three maces.
The Flail:
The flail is a metal ball that is attached to a handle with a rope or chain. The metal ball can have spikes but it is still called a flail. Some have also called this a morning star, but this appears to be a mistake.
The Mace:
The mace is a metal ball on the end of a metal staff or handle. The metal ball may or may not have rounded knobs on it, but it will not have spikes.
The Morning Star:
The morning star is a spiked metal ball on the end of a staff or handle. A sharp point coming straight out at the top is a definitive feature of the morning star.
Again, these definitions seem to be debated quite a bit but in my limited search, this seems to be the general consensus.

OK, so we have established the three kinds of maces. What have Hawkman and Hawkgirl used over the years? In the comics, all three weapons are commonly referred to as a “mace”, so it may cause some confusion. I took a long dive into past comics to see when the weapons first appeared and which were used. So here we go.

Flash Comics No. 8 (!940)
The first weapon Hawkman picked up in his debut in Flash Comics No. 1 (January 1940) was not a mace, but a wooden quarterstaff. He used this a few times before he ever picked up a mace. The first appearance of the three weapons was a flail in Flash Comics No. 8 (August 1940). It is called a Norman Battle Mace in the comic, but it is clearly a metal ball connected to a handle by a chain, which would make it a flail. Up to issue No. 37, the flail appears only five times, and one was just a cover appearance. The first time a true mace (a metal ball on the end of a rod) appears is in issue No. 47. In all, the maces appear in 16 issues during the 104 issues of Flash Comics (1940-1949).

Flash Comics No. 62 (1945)
During the Silver and Bronze ages of comics, the flail started out as the Hawkman’s go-to weapon, but the mace or the morning star gradually started showing up more. Hawkman and Hawkgirl still used a variety of maces up to the end of Hawkman Vol. 2 (1987), and then Hawkworld came. 

The Brave and the Bold No. 34 (1961)
During the Hawkworld series (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, 1989-1993), Katar Hol and Shayera Thal mostly used guns and their fists to take care of problems. When Hawkworld ended, Katar showed up in the new Hawkman series (1993-1996) with a katar blade and a three-bladed gauntlet. The katar is a huge dagger with a horizontal grip that the user wears as an extension of his arm. This was Hawkman’s primary weapon until Zero Crisis happened in 1994. Katar Hol and Carter Hall were merged with a Hawk god to form a Hawk Avatar during the Crisis and after this merger, Hawkman started using all sorts of weapons, including the mace.

Hawkman Vol. 3 No. 3 (1993)
JSA No. 26 (2001)
The mace would truly become the iconic weapon of Hawkman in his return in Geoff John’s JSA (1999-2007) and Hawkman Vol. 4 (2002-2007). The flail did not show up as much as before, but the Rags Morales’ depiction of the weapon, a huge metal orb with stunted knobs, became the primary weapon that Hawkman and Hawkgirl carried with them. In her return in the JSA series, Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders) was often seen using a spear as well. This has become one of her primary weapons and many figures and toys put out since the 80s have her holding a spear instead of a mace.

Art by Alex Ross

There have been some opinions that the huge size of Hawkman’s mace is not practical. Many maces from medieval times have a much smaller head and are said to weigh no more than 12 twelve pounds or so. One blow could cause considerable damage, but the user would tire easily and the weapon would be impossible to use effectively in short-range combat. So how about Hawkman’s mace? In Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 1, Carter Hall mentions that the Nth Metal gives the wearer 20 times the strength of a normal person. Carter and Kendra often carried the mace around like it didn’t weigh much at all. In Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 16, Hawkgirl takes a mace to the police station to get fingerprints, and when she hands the mace to the policeman, he drops it and it cracks the floor. He is barely able to lift it. There have been scenes in different stories, such as Superman/Batman No. 5 (February 2004) when Batman dresses up as Hawkman and easily carries the mace around, or the recent Death of Superman movie where Flash picks up Hawkman’s mace and attacks Doomsday with it. While it may help the story at times, it makes sense to have the mace very, very heavy and almost impossible for others to lift, unless you were Superman or Wonder Woman. 

Hawkman Vo. 4 No. 16 (2003)
Since the 2000s, the mace has also been used in different ways, not just as a bludgeoning tool. In the Justice League animation series, Hawkgirl’s mace had the ability to disrupt magic and she used it very effectively. In The Brave and the Bold No. 15 (September 2008), Hawkman made the mace a “Talisman of Power” by putting religious symbols all over it. During the Black Reign series in Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 25 (April 2004), Green Lantern (Alan Scott) put his power into the mace and Hawkman proceeded to use his mace and beat the living crap out of Black Adam.

From the Justice League animation series
In The Savage Hawkman edition (2011-2013), the Nth metal had fused with Hawkman’s body so a mace appeared out of his body whenever he needed it. The mace resembled a huge golden hammer more than a mace at times but it was a very powerful weapon.
The mace made a very vital appearance in Scott Snyder’s Metal (2017-2018). During the story, we find out that Carter Hall had used his mace in the past to defeat Barbatos and chase the demon back into the Dark Multiverse. During her battle with Black Adam, Wonder Woman finds the mace and defeats him with one blow. She continues to use the mace to reach the World Forge where they find a way to defeat Barbatos.

Dark Nights: Metal No. 5
The new series by Robert Venditti started in June. We are three issues in and we have already discovered a few things about Hawkman/Carter Hall’s mace. From the cover of No. 1 by Bryan Hitch, we can see that Hawkman’s mace is a morning star-type of mace. It is a spiked metal ball on the end of a rod or shaft. The spike at the top indicates that it is a Morning Star.

Hawkman Vol. V No. 1
In issue No. 1, he had some sort of rod or handle on his belt. When he was attacked by a Wingor, he grabbed the rod and it turned into the morning star we see on the cover. It is not excessively big and it has a glowing surface. It reminded me of the lightsaber in Star Wars. So we now know that it can appear every time he grabs the rod. I’m not sure yet if it is a mental connection or if there is a switch but either way, it’s very handy. 

Hawkman Vol. V No. 1
In issue No. 3, we got a huge surprise when Hawkman dropped his morning star while fighting off a horde of Feitherans. He is pretty pissed off about it but he is surprised when it comes flying back to him. He then uses it much in the same way Thor uses his Mjolnir and knocks a whole line of Feitherans . I cannot tell you how long I have wanted for this to happen! No more throwing it and then going to pick it up. Hawkman now has a long-range weapon that he can use as many times as he needs it. Not that’s VERY handy!
It has been mentioned in the story that Hawkman has forgotten a lot of things about his past. It seems that the current crisis has reawakened many of his memories and abilities. Will there be more surprises about the mace?

Hawkman Vol. V No. 3

The weapon of Hawkman has taken many forms over the years. There’s no denying that the Mace (Morning Star) is the iconic symbol of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. With Black Adam finally released, Hawkman's mace will get lots of attention in the months ahead! 

Aldis Hodge as Hawkman (Black Adam)


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