Art by Adam Kubert

Jan 27, 2019

Solving the Mystery of Thanagar Prime and Shayera Hol of the Justice League Series

In Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV's recent Hawkworld storyline in Justice League No. 14-16, we were introduced to a Shayera Hol who we did not recognize, Katar Hol aka The Savage Hawkman from the Death of Hawkman series, and a Thanagar we have never seen before. Since the Hawkworld storyline came out in December, Hawkfans have been wondering who these characters are. There has been a lot of debate about it. However, writer James Tynion IV graciously answered some questions on Twitter today, so with those facts, I'll try to break it down and explain who these characters are. There is no complete explanation, and there will still be some debate, but that's half the fun,  right? So, let's fly in and see if we can break it down.

Art by Bryan Hitch

1. Hawkman (Carter Hall)
    This character never appeared in the series, although Kendra mentioned him when she was in trouble. Here are the basics of this "new" Hawkman currently in the series by Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch.
    Carter Hall was reincarnated at the beginning of the 20th century. Along with Shiera (Hawkgirl), he became known as one of the greatest detectives in history. His greatest challenge became to find out about the secrets of the Nth Metal and the Dark Multiverse. It appears that he went into the Dark Multiverse alone, leaving Shiera behind. When he went in is up for debate. He was captured and turned into the gigantic Dragon of Barbatos at the Forge of Worlds. He remained there for many years until he was rescued by the Justice League and returned to this universe.
    In the current Hawkman series, he has discovered that his cycle of reincarnation went back much further than Prince Khufu of Egypt. He was a general of the Deathbringers, a group of winged soldiers and giant creatures who captured and sacrificed thousands of lives to resurrect a mysterious entity. He was able to break their control over him and prevented the evil entity from returning. He died in the process, but another mysterious entity gave him the power of reincarnation to save as many lives as he took. The reincarnation takes part over time and space, so Hawkman has been reincarnated in many different eras and planets, sometimes overlapping each other. All of his lives have been marked by the ability to fly or some sort of bird symbol. But it has been established that all of the Hawkmen that we have seen over the years are all connected.

Art by Jim Lee

2. Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders)
    This new version has been a bit difficult to figure out but the recent Hawkworld story made it a bit clearer. After Carter went into the Dark Multiverse, Shiera was probably either killed or died in some way. Then Kendra was born. Kendra remembered her life as Shiera and the danger of the Nth Metal. She joined the Blackhawks and set out to gather all the Nth Metal. Then the Metal series happened and she was turned into Lady Blackhawk. Wonder Wonder brought her back to her senses but she now had Nth Metal in her body. She now has metallic wings that come out of her back and she is extremely powerful.
    We have found out that she is connected to the Totality and the Source Wall in ways we haven't discovered yet. In the Hawkworld storyline, we found out that she had been split into two beings, the other being the Shayera Hol who appeared in the story. Kendra was made whole again by Starman and she appears to be the key to what is happening at the Source Wall. She remembers Carter Hall from her previous lives but they have not had a relationship in this current life yet. There are many things we will find out in the future issues of Justice League for sure.

Art by Jim Cheung
3. Shayera Hol
    This character was the biggest mystery of the Hawkworld story. She seemed to be a combination of several Shayeras we have seen in the past, but none of them fit. Was she
        a. Shayera Hol, the Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman of the Silver/Bronze Age? She is believed to have died during the Zero Hour Crisis in Time series in 1994.
        b. Shayera Hol, the Hawkwoman of Hawkman Vol. 2 in 1985-87. This version was married to Katar Hol, but most of the story was knocked out of continuity and placed on Earth-85. But she was not royalty so how did she ascend to the throne?
        c. Shayera Thal, the Hawkwoman of the Hawkworld series (1989-1992). The original Shayera Thal was killed in a terrorist bombing in Hawkman Vol. 1 No. 1, and her daughter was given her name and became a wingman in the Thanagarian police force. She went to Earth with Katar Hol to capture Byth. The two had a romantic relationship for a while, but they drifted apart and she joined the Detroit police force after the events of Zero Hour in 1994. She returned to Earth in 2003 and was killed during the Rann-Thanagar War in 2005.
        d. Shayera Thal, the Hawkgirl of the Savage Hawkman series in 2012. Here is a Hawkgirl who could have ascended to the throne because her father was the king of Thanagar (The Savage Hawkman No. 0). She was betrothed to Katar Hol of the Savage Hawkman series. However she had blond hair (the Justice League version had red hair) and she died to save Katar's life.
    In Justice League issue No. 16, she was shown to have been on Thanagar when Despero destroyed it in the Death of Hawkman series in 2017. But she had never appeared in the series and there was also no mention of her. So where did this Shayera come from?

Art by Jim Cheung
4. Katar Hol
    In Justice League No. 14, Katar Hol, known as the Savage Hawkman appears. This character first appeared in the Savage Hawkman series (2011-2013). He was a member of the Justice League for a time and appeared to have returned to Thanagar. When the Death of Hawkman series started in 2016, we find him working as a police officer, unhappy in his job, sleeping with a strange woman he met in a bar, and pining for his life back on Earth. During the 6-issue series, Despero destroys Thanagar and Hawkman sacrifices his life to defeat the villain. At the end, they are Zeta-beamed to the edge of the universe and Despero crushes Katar's bones, promising revenge. So Katar Hol is dead.
    In the Justice League series, we find out that Shayera tried to bring him back with the power of the Absorbascon, a powerful device that Thanagarians used to acquire knowledge of other planets. The device loses its power when the Martian Keep dies, and the Katar Hol created by Shayera crumbles to dusk. Katar Hol aka Hawkman of the Death of Hawkman series, as far as we know, is dead.

Art by Jim Cheung
5. Thanagar Prime
    At the beginning of Justice League No. 14, we are introduced to Thanagar Prime. It is the planet that the Thanagarians moved to after the destruction of the original Thanagar. During the Metal series, Onimar Synn had taken over the planet, but after the Metal event, he is defeated. The planet is covered by two gigantic wings and apparently shifts through space to different locations, making it almost impossible to locate. The planet is a treasury of some sort, when other planets brings their treasures to be put into the vaults which go deep into the planet. Shayera Hol is the Empress and appears to be completely in charge.
    However we find out that most of the grandeur of the planet appears to be created by the Absorbascon, so when the Martian Keep dies, many of its illusions fade away. Starman restores Kendra to her full self, and Shayera is left to work with the remaining Thanagarians to rebuild the planet. He mentions that Thanagar will have an important part in the universe when the times comes.

OK, so some of it made sense, but some of it was still completely unresolved. Yesterday on Twitter, James Tynion IV was taking questions so I sent him this question:

James graciously sent me a response and it was the clearest info I've received about the current situation.


OK, so this establishes the new Thanagar. After the Death of Hawkman series, the Thanagarians have moved to their ancient home to rebuild. Then I got a tweet explaining Shayera.


So we have our answer. Shayera Hol in the Justice League series is the same Shayera from the Savage Hawkman series. The hair color is different, the last name is different, and her death didn't happened. It's been changed with the DC Rebirth wiping out the New 52 events.
We now have one Hawkman, Carter Hall. We have two Hawkwomen; Kendra Saunders who is a member of the Justice League and the reincarnated Shiera, and Shayera Hol, the Empress of Thanagar and a person who is completely detached from the reincarnation that Carter and Kendra are in.
There are still many questions to be answered. Will Carter and Kendra ever be reunited? Or will they live this life apart? Carter seems to be missing Shiera and his life with her, while Kendra has not joined him in his current situation to stop the Deathbringers who are coming to Earth. We have learned of Hawkman's origin and how he started his reincarnation cycle, but we still do not know Hawkgirl's true origin. What lies behind the Source Wall may provide the answers of who she actually is. Whatever the result, it appears that Hawkman and Hawkgirl are two entirely different characters, with different origins, powers and objectives. That makes them very interesting, perhaps more interesting than they ever have been before. while it has been a bit confusing, especially on the Hawkgirl side, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and Robert Venditti are bringing us an incredible new chapter of the Hawks! Continue to pick up Hawkman and Justice League to follow Carter and Kendra's adventures!

Justice League Annual No. 1 is out on January 30th!
Hawkman No. 9 is out on February 13th!

3 comments:

  1. thanks for the explanations i was confused too

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  2. Why did he choose THAT version on Hawkman and Shayera? Savage Hawkman was horrible and not much like the character in Death of Hawkman. They had the perfect time to FIX things for the Hawks and all they did was ADD to them... I think they are hinting at Madame Xanadu as being the reincarnated Shiera in the Hawkman series. 🙄 It's SO frustrating!

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  3. Tynion's answer is consistent with what Geoff Johns was trying to achieve with his 2016 Rebirth initiative which started with the DC Rebirth Special in April 2016 and ended with Doomsday Clock 12 in mid 2019. The objective was to resolve or retro on the "reprehensible" changes that New 52 imposed on DC continuity by blaming it all on Dr Manhattan's meddling with the timeline after flashpoint so that instead of restoring DCU to its post COIE state he created the New 52 continuum which had a different PoC Wally west, Wonder Woman and Superman romantically involved etc etc. Over time Johns in coordination with DC creative teams would slowly have these restorative events like they did with Superman Reborn wherein the major New 52 changes would be retroconned so that the character and history and personality would be restored to its more iconic post CoIE state. But because of political and editorial shifts in DC this was never executed properly through all the titles and Snyder and possibly Didio decided to their own change engine and Metal and Death Metal came into being.And Tynion answer tried to acknowledge that Rebirth happened in the background off panel for Hawkman & Hawkgirl and now they're current states are an amalgam of their post CoUE selves and to a smaller extent their new 52 personas. Also since the Hawks didn't have a proper Rebirth title there wasn't time to chronicle these changes properly but just to imply they happened in this Justice League 2018 Hawkworkd storyline. Presumably the Venditti Hawkman also went through this rebirth cycle.

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