By Luke Edd
For the last twelve years, Hawkman has been a constant in my life.
I know what some of you are saying, “Twelve years? Pfft, that’s not that long of a time for a character who was created 80 years ago.” And you are correct, it’s not a long period given the Winged Wonder’s Golden Age origins. But my journey into Hawkfandom over those years has been a strange flight, filled with ups and downs, but ultimately has left me flying high.
My first introduction to Hawkman was the Super Powers Collection toy when I was a young boy in 1980s. But, as things sometimes go, Hawkman was one of my brother’s Super Powers toys, so while I always dug his giant wings, nifty helmet, and sweet mace, he was always at an arms-length for me. Hawkman never got to go on missions with Flash, Martian Manhunter, and Doctor Fate against Darkseid and Lex Luthor. (Some 20 years after the fact, I inherited all the Super Powers toys from my brother and my childhood, so in the end, I got him anyway!)
Not being much of a DC Comics reader, instead gravitating to Marvel, I was not aware of the Shadow War or second ongoing series from the 1980s, nor Hawkworld. When I did begin reading DC around 1992, however, I was soon introduced to the “new” Hawkman – golden wings, a sleek black bodysuit, armed with a punching sword and a Wolverine (or Vega!) style triple claw weapon. I was enamored with this look, and a foil-covered #1, and bought it on sight. I got the second issue as well… and then promptly missed the third, and never bought another issue. In my defense, I was 13 and was always chasing hot trends. I guess to my young, hormone-addled teen brain, Hawkman just didn’t breakthrough.
Fast forward 13 years or so. In the interim I had started and graduated high school, then college, then grad school, then got married, and started my career. Starting in college and beyond, I had begun to dip my toe into the burgeoning online comics scene, including the “comics blogosphere” which seemed to dominate in those days. From this, I had learned plenty of comics history to which I had not been exposed, especially Pre-Crisis DC Comics. I had been reading Flash for years, so I had some connections to that era just based on the stories Mark Waid and Bryan Augustyn were telling. This led me to David Goyer and Geoff Johns’ JSA series, where Hawkman was a major presence. The easy availability of trade paperbacks meant I could easily pick up the beginnings of the series (prior to the departure of James Robinson, and Johns’ arrival), including the third volume, titled “The Return of Hawkman.”
I remember having tremendous anticipation for that collection. Deep down, was Hawkman already firing long-dormant neurons and stimulating fannish creative juices? I was already “all in” on JSA, but the wide-ranging adventure in those pages, spanning from Earth to Thanagar, combining and streamlining continuity I had no idea about to produce the modern Hawkman, left me enthralled. It was then that the seed was planted.
One of my dearest friends, and fellow comic book nerd, Adam has long been a Green Arrow fanatic. Knowing the connection between Hawkman and Green Arrow, and knowing how much I enjoyed JSA, Adam would often needle me about starting a Hawkman collection. At cons, he would point out tantalizing Hawkman comics he’d find in a bin, or entirely too cool Hawkman (and Hawkgirl!) toys on dealers’ tables. I resisted for a while – I had my Iron Man and Flash collections, after all! I can’t start another character!
My willpower held out for a time. Then one day, I got a call from Adam, who was in Atlanta at a small comics con. “Luke,” he said, “did you ever pick up Showcase Presents Hawkman volume 1? They’ve got it here for 5 bucks.”
I was silent for a few seconds. In my brain, I frantically contemplated, ‘Do I take the plunge? Do I start down this path?’ I knew that if I got that book, if I sat down with those Silver Age adventures, with Fox and Kubert and Anderson that there would be no turning back. Of course, Adam picked up the book for me, and since then I’ve been a hopeless Hawkfan.
Since that day, I have collected all Hawkman’s solo series and backup strips (in a mix of collected forms and single issues), acquired a shelf full of toys and statues, started a Hawkman blog (Being Carter Hall, beingcarterhall.blogspot.com), seen several iterations of the character come and go, seen not one but two new solo titles for the character, met many Hawk-creators, gotten two different live-action TV incarnations, and met many similar-minded Hawkfans through the internet. In the same time that I have seen “my” Marvel character, Iron Man, explode into a global icon, Hawkman has continued to fly under the radar of mainstream popular culture, yet still giving me hours of entertainment and escapism in his high-flying adventures. Both new and old, these stories of Carter Hall, reincarnated Egyptian prince… or Katar Hol, alien police officer… or something in between, hold a special place in my heart. So even though it’s been relatively recent in Hawkman’s history, it’s been a heck of a ride for me.
Reading, blogging, discussing, and generally marking out for Hawkman has brought me copious amounts of joy in the past twelve years -- and I am looking forward to many more years of Hawkfandom.
You can check out Luke's Hawkman blog, "Being Carter Hall" here!