With the big reveal of Katar Hol at the end of Hawkman No. 3 (released Aug. 8) and the possibility of a battle between Hol and Carter Hall in Hawkman No. 4 (out on Sept 12), Hawkfans are eagerly looking forward to the issue. At the end of the last issue, Carter Hall was transported to Thanagar and found himself standing on the shoulder of the Kalmoran statue and Katar Hol telling him he was under arrest. There's no telling what kind of battle is going to happen in the skies over Thanagar! But before we get there, let's take a look back at the character of Katar Hol and remember who he was.
There have been four main versions of Hawkman who have gone by the name of Katar Hol. The versions in the non-continuity series, such as the Katar Hol in Legend of the Hawkman (2000), are not part of the discussion here. The main versions of Katar Hol are the following:
1961-1994: Brave and the Bold, Justice League of America, Hawkman Vol 1
1985-1987: The Shadow War of Hawkman, Hawkman Vol. 2
1989-1996: Hawkworld Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Hawkman Vol. 3
2011-2017: The Savage Hawkman, The Death of Hawkman
The 1961-1994 version was originally Katar Hol, but with the continuity juggling and the odd timeline for the Hawkworld series, this version was retconned and added to the story of the Golden Age Carter Hall to make some sort of sense of the appearance of Hawkworld's Katar Hol. If you're confused, you're not alone. But don't worry. He may show up eventually but this version is not the Katar Hol in Robert Venditti's new Hawkman series.
The 1985-1987 version was a series that had a great start with Tony Isabella and Richard Howell but the Crisis on Infinite Earths pretty much ruined the plans for the character and the stories in other comics left it with no place to go. Most of the series has been shoved into a place called Earth-85, leaving this version of Katar Hol totally cut out of any continuity.
The 1989-1996 version was created by Timothy Truman and was a new, darker take of the origin of Katar Hol. The second series of Hawkworld by Truman and John Ostrander really caused a knot in the stories of Hawkman and forced the Golden, Silver and Bronze age of Hawkman/Carter Hall to be rolled into one character. The Hawkworld version of Katar Hol lasted for eight years and this is the Katar Hol that will appear in Hawkman No. 4.
The 2011-2017 version of Katar Hol was another new version, but he was never fully explained or fleshed out as a character. The Savage series lasted 21 issues, and the Death series ran for six, but this version is also totally cut off from the continuity of Hawkman and stands apart from the rest. It would be fun to see Venditti bring the character back and fill in the holes but that's for another day.
So let's take a closer look at the Katar Hol of the Hawkworld Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Hawkman Vol. 3 series and find out who this guy is.
Paran Katar and Naomi Carter: Before Hawkworld
In the 1930s, a Thanagarian soldier named Paran Katar was sent to Earth to scout it out for a possible invasion. While he was there, he found out that Carter and Shiera Hall had discovered the Nth metal. They became friends, and Paran helped the Halls figure out how to make the Nth metal's powers work. Carter Hall used the Nth metal to become the superhero Hawkman, and his activities during the 1940s inspired Paran to create the Thanagarian wingmen police force when he returned home. (Hawkworld Vol. 2 Annual No. 1)
|Hawkworld Vol. 2, Annual No. 1|
|Hawkman Vol. 3, No. 6|
Katar Hol: The Fall
When the Hawkworld Vol. 1 began (1989), Katar Hol was a young ensign in the Thanagarian wingmen police force. He was disillusioned with the way Thanagar had conquered and enslaved other planets and longed for it to return to what it once was. He was interested in history and archaeology and was an admirer of Kalmoran, the Thanagarian hero.
|Hawkworld Vol. 1 No. 1|
|Hawkworld Vol. 1 No. 2|
Katar Hol: Rebirth
Katar Hol was sent to the Isle of Chance, the penal island for Thanagarian convicts. He was a ruined man; addicted to drugs, stripped of his status, and heartbroken over his father's death. Escape from the island was impossible, as there was an invisible barrier keeping ships away, and if you tried to swim for it, there were giant sea serpents called Sharakus guarding the island. There were other prisoners on the island, and Katar saw an alien making a set of wings. Katar killed the alien and took the wings for himself, but then the brother of the dead alien approached him and told him the wings were made for Katar. This revelation finally broke Katar completely and he looked to the alien for help. The alien was a Wingor named R'd Nar T'so and for the next few years he became Katar's teacher. Katar recovered from his drug addiction, improved his sword skills and but the sadness stayed with him. Eventually, R'd Nar T'so died and after a few more years on the island, the police suddenly arrived and took him back to the Downside where he was left to fend for himself.
|Hawkworld Vol. 1 No. 2|
Katar Hol: Resurrection
Katar committed his life to helping the aliens living in Downside, and he ran an undercover hospital until he met a young police wingman. She turned out to be the daughter of Shayera Thal who was killed in the terrorist attack ten years ago. At first Shayera threatened to turn him in, but she soon discovered Katar's history and joined him in fighting for the aliens. Their fight eventually led them to Byth, who had become the Administration of Protection. Katar donned a pair of wings and confronted his nemesis. Byth used his shape-shifting powers to attack Katar but Katar was able to defeat him. Byth escaped and Katar was able to clear his name. He was reinstated into the police force and Shayera became his partner. He hoped to eventually find Byth and avenge his father's death.
|Hawkworld Vol. 2 No. 1|
Katar Hol: Hero
When Hawkworld Vol. 2 starts (1990), it had been a few months after Byth escaped, and Katar was being proclaimed as Thanagar's Greatest Hero. When they discovered that Byth has taken refuge on the planet Earth, Katar and Shayera were sent there to arrest him and bring him back. They were successful in capturing Byth and sending him back to Thanagar. After disobeying orders and being marked as traitors, Katar and Shayera decided to remain on Earth as fugitives. For a time, Katar and Shayera were in love and had a relationship, but it was a difficult one because of their different approaches to law enforcement.
|Hawkworld Vol. 2 No. 28|
|Hawkman Vol. 3 No. 33|
Carter Hall with a dash of Katar
In 2001, the Thanagarian priests were successful in bringing Hawkman back from the dead with the help of Kendra Saunders, the new Hawkgirl. This Hawkman was basically Carter and Katar in one, but there were differences. The former Carter Hall had blond hair, while Katar Hol had black hair. This new Carter Hall was basically the former Carter Hall, but he now had brown hair and most of Katar's memories.
|Flash Comics No. 4, Hawkworld Vol. 2 No. 1, Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 16|
|Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 15|
With Katar Hol's sudden appearance for the first time in twelve years, it will be very interesting to see where Venditti takes the character. Does he have more information or maps to pass on to Carter? Will he also be subdued if Carter mentions the name "Kalmoran?" The two were standing on the statue of Kalmoran when issue No. 3 ended, so the meaning of the name might be revealed. When Prince Khufu appeared in issue No. 2, we also got to see Chay-ara. What a thrill it would be to see Shayera Thal aka Hawkwoman as well. Hold on to your wings, Hawkfans. This next issue may have us all shouting "Sweet Thanagarian Snare Beasts!"
|Hawkman Vol. V No. 4 Cover by Bryan Hitch|