Art by Adam Kubert

May 27, 2021

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 Venditti's 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:


1. New Origin
2. Past lives of the Current Series' Hawkman (top right)
3. Other Worlds/Universes’ past lives from past and current series (top left)
4. Earth: past lives from past series (bottom left)
5. Earth: past lives 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. Think of Ktar as a "reverse-Lucifer." Venditti has said that this was the pitch he made to DC Comics for Hawkman's origin. 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 was in command of three huge robot-spaceships and an army of winged soldiers. It appears that the giant robots and the Deathbringer army were completely destroyed when Hawkman and Hawkwoman defeated the Lord of the Void (Hawkman No. 26).



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

2. Past lives of the Current Series' Hawkman
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 revealed several past lives of Hawkman during its 29-issue run. . 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 fewer 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. 

"The Years will be as Days"

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 they ended up back in the 1940s as members of the Justice Society. 


The final issue of Venditti's run shows how Carter and Shayera were given an extremely long life. The entity that gave them their final life told them that the years will be like days. They lived through the 20th century and beyond and we finally see them in the 40th century. They are living on Earth. Both are gray-haired and old. Hawkman has many battle scars over his body. He is now a historian, keeping records of all they have seen and experienced. Hawkwoman is still as sprite as ever, training the younger generations how to fight. They embrace as they watch the sunset, happy that they have had this long, final life together. 

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

3. Other Worlds/Universes’ past lives from past and current series
Some of the most enjoyable things about Venditti’s series were all the different past lives of Hawkman that he introduced/reintroduced to Hawkworld. In Hawkman Vol. V No. 1, there was a double-spread of many Hawkmen from the past. Venditti introduced the different Hawkmen throughout the series. Here are the ones we learned about 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. Maybe we will see a writer pick up where Venditti left off and tell the stories of more of Hawkman's past lives.

1940 Flash Comics, 1961 The Brave and the Bold, 1989 Hawkworld, 1993 Hawkman, 2002 Hawkman
4. Earth: past lives from past series 
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 (1989-1996, Hawkworld No. 1, June 1989) 
Carter Hall II (2001-2011, JSA No. 23, June 2001)
Katar Hol III (2011-2017, The Savage Hawkman No. 1, November 2011)
Carter Hall III (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). After the crisis on Infinite Earths, there was a bit of a problem. We now had the Golden Age Earth-2 Hawkman (Carter Hall I) and the Silver Age Hawkman (Katar Hol I) on the same Earth, existing together. To solve this inconsistency, the following was established:
1. Carter Hall I was the Hawkman in the Justice Society but retired in the 1950s. Hawkman and many of the Justice Society members were given extended life when they were exposed to Ian Karkull's magic. In the 1960s, the Justice League asked Hawkman to join as an advisor. He continued as a member into the 1980s.
2. In 1986, Carter Hall I and other Justice Society members were trapped in Ragnarok. They were stuck there until 1992.
3.  Between 1987-1992, the Carter Hall that appeared was revealed to be 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. When his cover was blown, he murdered Sharon Parker and returned to Thanagar. Right after this event, the true Carter Hall returned from Ragnarok.
4. Katar Hol I was revealed to be a Hawkman on another Earth called Earth-85. This Earth was created for the heroes such as Hawkman and Captain Marvel who were stuck in a continuity crisis after the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985. So Katar Hol I (1961-1987) was the Hawkman of Earth-85. This Hawkman shows up one final time in Convergence Hawkman in 2015.
5. Katar Hol II of the Hawkworld and Hawkman Vol. 3 series was established as the Hawkman of New Earth, the mainstream reality of the DC Multiverse between 1986 and 2011.
6. Note: the following point is my own theory that I have put together with information from different events over the years.) Carter Hall I and Katar Hol II existed together because of mainly two factors. It was established in the letter column of Hawkman Vol. 2 that Thanagarians' lifespan is about 300 years. Because of time dilation, time moves differently on Earth and Thanagar (a theory) so it's possible this caused the two Hawkman lives to overlap. Also, we have seen recently that the power of the Totality caused Hawkgirl to be split into two beings (Shayera Hol and Kendra Saunders), so it's possible something else could have caused Hawkman to be split in two until his next reincarnation.

1985 Shadow War of Hawkman, 1986 Hawkman Vol. 2


1990 Hawkworld Vol. 2
Katar Hol II 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 II (Hawkworld) were merged with a Hawk avatar, creating a Hawk god. Shiera Hall was killed in the process, and Carter Hall basically died as well, living only in the memories of the new Katar Hol II. 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 II 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 I and Katar Hol II. 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 II 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. Carter Hall 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: past lives from current series
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) 


From Hawkman Vol. V No. 1

From Hawkman Vol. V No. 22

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 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's series, we were given one of the most exciting series in Hawkman’s history. Every issue gave 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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