Art by Adam Kubert

Feb 2, 2020

A Guide through the History of Hawkman


DC Comics’ Hawkman is a character who has been around for over 80 years. During those 80 years, he has been rewritten, rebooted, and rebirthed. He has been given several different origins and names. He has been the victim of Crisis events, crossovers and tie-in stories. For the casual reader, it’s understandable that his continuity seems confusing, crazy and convoluted. After the Metal series in 2018, Robert Venditti was given the task of writing a new version of Hawkman. Venditti set out to give us a version with a new origin, but he figured out a way to include all the other past versions as well. Every Hawkman you have ever read can be included in his new origin. As a Hawkman fan and self-appointed guide, it’s my hope that comic book fans will pick up the new series and discover what a fascinating hero Hawkman is. To help other fans understand the character as easily and as quickly as possible. I have made a chart to show where all of his past stories interact. To make it as simple as possible, I have divided all of the Hawkman versions into five categories:

Click for larger size

1. New Origin
2. Current Series’ versions (top right)
3. Other Worlds/Universes’ versions from past and current series (top left)
4. Earth: versions from past series (bottom left)
5. Earth: versions from current series (bottom right)

I'll break each section down below.


Hawkman Vol. V No. 7, February 2019
1. New Origin (Center)
Let’s start with the new origin. It was introduced in Hawkman Vol. V No. 7 (February 2019) by Venditti.
According to the story, the first version of Hawkman came to exist at the dawn of time, so it appears that Hawkman has lived for millions of years. His name was Ktar Deathbringer. He was the general of the Deathbringers, a winged army who served an evil entity called “The Lord of the Void.” We don’t know where he came from or how he came to exist, but it appears that he was created by this evil entity for the purpose of killing and sacrificing people to this being. The entity desired to enter this reality and gradually gained strength to cross over with the sacrifices offered by Ktar and his army.

However, Ktar gradually began to realize that what he was doing was wrong. He tired of the mindless killing and he wanted to stop. The turning point was when a red-haired woman began appearing before him on each planet they conquered. She saw his pain and guilt, and every time she appeared before him, his resolve to serve the evil entity would break down a little more. Finally he rebelled against the entity. He fought his second-in-command, another winged being called Idamm, and he was able to stop the entity and send Idamm and the Deathbringer army into another realm.

However, he was mortally wounded in the fight with Idamm. As he was dying, the red-haired woman appeared before him and held his hand, saying that no one deserved to die alone. Ktar died, but before he passed over into judgment, another entity appeared before him. This entity saw good in Ktar when he defeated the Deathbringers, so he gave Ktar a choice. He could complete his passage into death, or he could enter a cycle of reincarnation, saving lives to make up for the lives he took. He would continue to save lives in life after life. Once he finally saved as many lives as he took as a Deathbringer, his next death would be his last, and the reincarnation cycle would be complete. Ktar took this chance for redemption and has been reincarnating across time and space ever since.

Another interesting note is that after Hawkman defeated Idamm (Hawkman Vol. V No. 12 (July 2019), he reclaimed his position as general of the Deathbringers. He is now in command of three huge robot-spaceships and an army of winged soldiers.



2017 Dark Days: The Forge, 2018 Hawkman Found, 2018 Metal TPB

2. Current Series’ versions (top right)
The current version of Hawkman started from the Metal series by Scott Snyder. There are nine issues:

Dark Days: The Forge (August 2017)
Dark Days: The Casting (September 2017)
Metal 1-4 (October 2017-February 2018)
Hawkman Found (February 2018, writer Jeff Lemire)
Metal 5-6 (March 2018-May 2018)

2018 Hawkman Vol. V No. 1
After the Metal series ended, the Hawkman series by Robert Venditti started in June 2018 and continues to reveal the past lives of Hawkman. The Unexpected, an eight-issue series by Steve Orlando, also had some revelations (August 2018-March 2019).

The current Hawkman has been around since the Golden Age. According to the Dark Days: The Casting issue, Carter and Shiera Hall worked for years to discover the secrets of the Nth metal and the Dark Multiverse. After many years, Carter walked into the Dark Multiverse and was presumed dead. We find out later that he was changed into the Dragon of Barbatos. He remained there in the Dark Multiverse until the Justice League brought him back in Metal No. 6. He did not reincarnate because he didn't die. He was brought back from the Dark Multiverse, so this current Hawkman has basically been alive since the 1920s or so.

2011 The Savage Hawkman
This next part is a personal theory of mine. It concerns the Savage Hawkman who was active from 2011 until his death in Death of Hawkman No. 6 (May 2017). Where did this Hawkman come from? In Justice League No. 14-16, we found out that Hawkgirl/Shiera Hall had been split into two people when she reincarnated; one was Kendra Saunders, and the other was Shayera Thal-Hol. This was done by the villain Perpetua to keep Hawkgirl from having complete access to the power of the Totality (the oldest form of power in the universe) and preventing Perpetua’s resurrection. In the Justice League issues, Kendra and Shayera met on Thanagar Prime. Starman showed up and made both of them whole. This gave me the idea for a theory concerning the Savage Hawkman.

My theory is when Carter Hall entered the Dark Multiverse, he almost died, but instead of dying, he was split into two beings; the Dragon of Barbatos in the Dark Multiverse, and the Savage Hawkman/Katar Hol in the Multiverse. The Savage Hawkman lived on Thanagar and spent some time on Earth, and finally died trying to defeat Despero. However, he did not reincarnate because the portal to the Dark Multiverse had begun to be opened and the Dragon of Barbatos still existed there. So when Barbatos was defeated, Carter Hall changed back into his former self and returned to the Multiverse. This is why the chart shows Carter Hall breaking off into both the Savage Hawkman and the Dragon of Barbatos, and then the Dragon reverting back to Carter Hall.

One more possibility is that the Savage Hawkman DID reincarnate somewhere. We just don't know where yet. But that would make the Hawkman story even more challenging. Time will tell with that one, I suppose.

This theory may be disproven eventually, or I'll have some more information to change it, but this theory seems to make a whole lot of sense and causes less headaches (if that's possible).

In the current Hawkman series by Venditti, Carter returned from the Dark Multiverse and discovered that his first life was Ktar Deathbringer, a general of a winged army who served an evil entity called the Lord of the Void. For thousands of years, he led his army to kill and capture people on planet after planet, sacrificing them to the evil entity. He gradually began to question what he was doing. A herald for another entity (the first life of Hawkwoman) saw the good in him and helped him realize the error of his ways. He rebelled against the evil entity and defeated the Deathbringers and sent them back into another realm. Ktar also died after the fight and appeared before the other entity to be judged. The entity saw some good in Ktar so he gave him the power of reincarnation. Ktar would reincarnate across time and space to preserve life and save others. When he finally saved as many lives as he had taken as Ktar Deathbringer, his debt would be paid and he would finally die a final time and pass into the other world. The herald named Shrra was stripped of her status and sentenced to reincarnate alongside Ktar until he finally saved enough lives to atone for his sins. So for thousands and thousands of years, the two were reincarnated across time and space, always finding each other and saving as many lives as they could. 

In Hawkman Vol. V, Hawkman finally reunited with Hawkwoman in Hawkman No. 24, and they defeated the Lord of the Void with the full power of their lives over the years. The effort killed them and they once again appeared before the entity. The entity told Hawkman that he had finally atoned for all of the death he had caused and that he can now finally be at peace. He was ready to send Hawkman into the afterlife, but he sensed Carter and Shayera's desire to live one last life together. The entity sent the two Hawks to the time when they were the happiest. And the story continues.

2018-2020, Art by Bryan Hitch, Will Conrad, Fernando Pasarin

3. Other Worlds/Universes’ versions from the past and current series (top left)
Some of the most enjoyable things about Venditti’s series are all the different past lives of Hawkman that he has introduced/reintroduced to Hawkworld so far. In Hawkman Vol. V No. 1, there was a double-spread of many Hawkmen from the past. Venditti has been introducing the different Hawkmen ever since. Here are the ones we have learned about so far that are from other planets and alternate universes:

Art by Bryan Hitch
Katar Hol of Thanagar (No. 3, October 2018)
Gold Hawk of Andrino (No. 4, November 2018)
Ktar Deathbringer (No. 7, February 2019)
Catar-Ol of Krypton (No. 8, March 2019): Revealed to be the teacher of Kara Zor-El (Supergirl)
Dragon of Barbatos (No. 11, June 2019)
Airwing of New Genesis (No. 11, June 2019)
Katarthul of Rann (No. 11, June 2019)
Red Harrier (No. 11, June 2019)
C’Tarr Holl of Nebulen (No. 13, August 2019)
Kettar of Nebulen (No. 13, August 2019)
Titan Hawk (No. 20, March 2020)

Alternative Universes:
Avion: Microverse (No. 6, January 2019)
Sky Tyrant: An evil Hawkman from Earth-3 (No. 18, January 2020)

Venditti has established Hawkman as the “Living Historical Document of the Universe.” In each life, it appears that he left a journal or some sort of clue to help him remember his past lives. As we follow Hawkman through his journey of exploration and discovery, there will be many more surprises ahead.

1940 Flash Comics, 1961 The Brave and the Bold, 1989 Hawkworld, 1993 Hawkman, 2002 Hawkman
4. Earth: versions from past series (bottom left) 
On Earth, Hawkman has had numerous lives listed in the comics. These are the main versions we have seen in the comics:

Carter Hall I (1939-1994, Flash Comics No. 1, January 1940)
Katar Hol I (1961-1988, The Brave and the Bold No. 34, February 1961)
Katar Hol II (1985-1987, The Shadow War of Hawkman No. 1, May 1985)
Katar Hol III (1989-1996, Hawkworld No. 1, June 1989) 
Carter Hall II (1990-1994), Hawkworld Vol. 2 Annual No. 2, October 1990)
Carter Hall III (2001-2011, JSA No. 23, June 2001)
Katar Hol IV (2011-2017, The Savage Hawkman No. 1, November 2011)
Carter Hall IV (2017-current, Dark Days: The Forge, August 2017)





Hawkworld Vol. 2 Annual No. 1, October 1990
Carter Hall I and Katar Hol I were rewritten in Hawkman Vol. 2 Annual No. 1 (October 1990). Instead of being an Egyptian and a Thanagarian, Katar Hol I was merged into Carter Hall II to be the Hawkman we see in the Justice Society in the Golden Age (1940-1994) AND in the Justice League in the Silver Age (1961-1985). This was to make the Katar Hol III of the Hawkworld series (1989-1993) the Thanagarian hero of the DC Universe. It was an odd decision any way you look at it, and DC really painted themselves into a corner on this one. To explain the Hawkman that appeared from 1987 to 1992, it was "revealed" that he was actually Fel Andar, the cousin of Shayera Thal and a spy for Thanagar. He married a woman from Earth named Sharon Parker, who was brainwashed into believing she was Hawkwoman. Their son grew up to be the rebooted Golden Eagle. The whole scenario was like Prince Charming being fooled into marrying the ugly stepsister because she managed to painfully cram her foot into the glass slipper. It was not a perfect fit by any stretch of the imagination, but that was what we got.

1985 Shadow War of Hawkman, 1986 Hawkman Vol. 2

Katar Hol II of the Shadow War was left without a home when the Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986) happened right during the middle of the Shadow War (1985) and Hawkman Vol. 2 series (1986-1987). This version of Hawkman was eventually placed on Earth-85, an Earth in an alternative universe.

1990 Hawkworld Vol. 2
Katar Hol III was the Hawkman of Tim Truman and John Ostrander’s Hawkworld series. In this series, Katar was a wingman in the Thanagarian police force and he was the child of Paran Katar of Thanagar and Naomi Carter, a Cherokee Indian. He goes to Earth with Shayera Thal to capture Byth, a fugitive of Thanagar. While on Earth, Katar and Shayera rebel against the Thanagarian government and become fugitives themselves. They decide to stay on Earth. During the Zero Hour: Crisis in Time event (No. 3, September 1994), Carter Hall (the merged Carter Hall I and Katar Hol I) and Katar Hol III (Hawkworld) were merged with a Hawk entity, creating a Hawk avatar. Shiera Hall was killed in the process, and Carter Hall basically died as well, living only in the memories of the new Katar Hol III. This version of Katar Hol gradually lost his mind from the influence of the Hawk entity and was finally sent into another realm to stop the suffering (Hawkman Vol. 3 No. 33, July 1996).

2001 JSA No. 23
Carter Hall III was the Hawkman of the Geoff Johns series during the 2000s. Kendra Saunders appeared as the new Hawkgirl in the new JSA series (1999), but she had strange flashbacks and memories. It was finally revealed that she actually had Shiera Hall’s soul. When the Thanagarian demon Onimar Synn took over Thanagar, the Thanagarian priests brought Kendra to Thanagar to bring Hawkman back from the other realm so that they could defeat the demon. Kendra’s connection to Hawkman brought him back, but he came back as a combined form of Carter Hall II and Katar Hol III. He was now basically a new Carter Hall with the memories of Katar Hol (JSA No. 20-25, March-August 2001). This version of Hawkman continued until 2011 when DC Comics just stopped everything and brought in the New 52 stories (Savage Hawkman).





During the 2000s, we are introduced/reintroduced to several of Hawkman’s past lives:

-Prince Khufu (Flash Comics No. 1, January 1940), This was the only former life we knew of until Geoff Johns began writing the hero in Hawkman Vol. 4 (2002-2006).
-The Silent Knight (Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 11 March 2003), also revealed to be Jonathan Kent’s ancestor (The Brave and the Bold No. 10, April 2008).
-A priest (Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 26, May 2004)
-A Japanese samurai from the Ashikaga Bakufu (Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 18, October 2003)
-Koenraad Von Grimm, a German blacksmith during the 16th century (Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 18, October 2003)
-Captain John Smith, an English explorer during the 17th century, Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 18, October 2003)
-Unnamed slave, 19th century (Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 4, August 2002)
-Hannibal Hawkes/Nighthawk (Hawkman Secret Files and Origins, October 2002)
-James Wright, an American detective during the early 20th century (Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 27, June 2004)



The Hawk Family is also pretty big, with all the versions connected in some ways over the years. Carter Hall I and Shiera are the parents of Hector Hall, who became Infinity, Inc.'s Silver Scarab, then Sandman and then finally Doctor Fate. He married Lyta of the Infinity, Inc. and their son Daniel became Dream of the Endless (Neil Gaiman's The Sandman). Carter Hall III was an ancestor of Jonathan Kent in a former life. Shayera Thal (Hawkworld) was a cousin of the imposter Hawkman, Fel Andar. Kendra Saunders is the granddaughter of Speed Sanders and the grand niece of Shiera Hall. She also had a daughter named Mia who she gave up for adoption. CarterHall I and Shiera were godparents to a Feitheran named Norda Cantrell, who later became Northwind. It's a pretty fascinating trail when you follow all the leads. 

2019 Hawkman Vol. 1 Awakening TPB, 2019 Hawkman Vol. 2 Deathbringer TPB
5. Earth: versions from current series (bottom right)
In the current series by Venditti, we have seen some familiar past lives, and we are being introduced to some new ones as well. Here are the lives that have been confirmed so far.

Leader of the Bird Tribe (Batman Lost, January 2018)
Prince Khufu of Egypt (No. 2, September 2018)
Birdman of Easter Island (No. 2, September 2018)
The Silent Knight of England (No. 2, September 2018)
Hannibal Hawkes/Nighthawk of the Old West (No. 2, September 2018)
Frankenstein’s Assistant (The Unexpected No. 5, December 2018)
Plague Doctor (No. 23, June 2020) 


Atonement Finally Achieved
In Hawkman No. 26 (October 2020), the story that began in issue No. 1 finally came to a close. Carter and Shayera used all the power of the past lives to defeat the Lord of the Void, but they also died in the process. They appeared once again in front of the entity that originally gave them the power of reincarnation as Ktar and Shrra. He was finally forgiven for his past sins and released from reincarnation. Shrra also proved herself to be correct in believing in Ktar and was reinstated as a Herald. The entity sensed that they wanted to remain together, so it granted them their wish. The reincarnation is ended and they are told to live their last life that they have in the time when they were the happiest. The issue ends with them being transported to that time. And their story continues... 




Summary
Geoff Johns really opened the door for Hawkman and Hawkgirl's former lives to be explored in his series almost two decades ago, and Robert Venditti has picked up that idea and has made it the foundation of Hawkman's existence. To make it all work, Venditti introduced the theory of Hawkman reincarnating “across time and space.” This means that Hawkman reincarnated not only on Earth, but also on other planets and in other dimensions and universes. With this theory, every Hawkman that we have ever seen in a comic has a place in Hawkman’s history.
If you are still confused by Hawkman, try and approach it this way. Remember when you were a kid and you came home from school, threw your school bag down, grabbed a soda and turned on the TV. One of your favorite old TV shows was on. It was one of your favorite shows, so you’ve seen the episode before. And you did one of two things. One was if you were a huge fan of the show, you could immediately place which season that particular episode came from. “Oh, yeah! This is from the Season Four when Worf discovers that he has a kid.” Or even if you were not a devout follower of the show, you didn’t care which season it was from. You just enjoyed the show.
Any character or TV show that has been around for a long time will have many twists and turns, especially if you have been around as long as Hawkman. Sometimes a story will feel forced when they try to overlap something (Hawkworld rewrite of the Golden and Silver age Hawkmen), or sometimes a whole season will be wiped out by explaining it was just a dream (Dallas Season 9 for you young folk), but the character or TV show continues to fascinate and thrill many fans, despite the changes. We may not agree on how we feel about all the changes that Hawkman has gone through, but with Venditti at the helm, we are definitely in one of the most exciting times in Hawkman’s history. Every issue gives us something new about the Winged Warrior. Don’t give up on it because of a popular cliché. “Hawkman is confusing.” Enjoy the character. Soar into his rich and multi-layered history. You just might enjoy it.

Hawkman by Adam Kubert

7 comments:

  1. Great article, Tim! I especially like your theory for reconciling Savage Hawkman and Volume 5!

    I too try to take a "enjoy the story as its told" mentality with my comics. Intellectually I know the circuitous history of the character, but the creators on any given issue are trying to tell a fin/exciting/entertaining story, so that's how I try to approach as a reader! Sometimes you have to put on your Critic Hat, but most of the time I'm reading comics for fun, so set yourself up to enjoy the experience!

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    1. Thank you, Luke! It's fun to connect the dots and all, but the most important thing is to enjoy the comic for it is! Hawkman has been blessed with many great stories by some of the greatest writers and artists. He's a great character that everyone can enjoy!

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  2. Thanks for the great read! Been a Hawkman fan since his return in 2001, and this has been very informative about his current status

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  3. Thank you! I glad it helped!

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  4. Every time I try to make sense of all of Hawkman's origin stories I just get more confuse lol
    This is a great guide for such a long-lasting character. Thank you very much!

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  5. This guide is great and I’m glad to have read it

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  6. Thank you so much! This was very informative. I could not found this much information on my own.

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