Art by Prentis Rollins (2017, Commissioned by Tim Board)

Jul 17, 2023

The Story of Shayera Hol/Hawkwoman and Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl

By Tim Board

   Since the release of the Dark Nights Metal series in 2017-18, Hawkfans have been wondering when Hawkman and Hawkgirl were going to get back together. The current Hawkman series kicked off in June 2018, but Hawkgirl was not a part of the series. We saw her in some of her past lives; Chay-ara, Shayera Thal, and Sherra, but we never saw her as Hawkgirl in the first 18 issues. That all changed in the final 11 issues. We also saw Hawkwoman and Hawkgirl face off in the Justice League series (#14-16). This article is to explain who Hawkgirl and Hawkwoman are and their connection to Hawkman. 

Justice League #16 (March 2019)

   Many things have been rewritten about Hawkman and Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman over the past few years. DC Comics has rebooted, rewritten, and rebirthed themselves silly with events like Flashpoint, the New 52, DC Rebirth, Dark Crisis, and on and on. It’s tough for any fan to keep up with what is going on, especially for fans that don’t follow the characters that are not DC’s “first-tier” characters. Many things from past stories have been changed, altered, and even erased. This is my attempt to take all the altered pieces and make sense of the whole thing. This record of Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman’s history will be based on what we’ve seen in Scott Snyder’s Dark Night Metal series, the current Justice League series, Robert Venditti’s Hawkman series, and other events that followed.

Art by Andy Kubert (Dark Days The Casting)
   The story starts with Shiera Sanders-Hall/Hawkgirl in Dark Days: The Forge (August 2017). During the 20th century, Shiera Sanders was married to Carter Hall. She was an archaeologist and also fought alongside Hawkman as Hawkgirl. Through their studies of the Nth Metal, they discovered the existence of the Dark Multiverse and the evil entity called Barbatos. Hawkman was once even able to beat back Barbatos from entering their Multiverse with his Nth Metal mace. They set up a research team that included the Blackhawks, the Challengers of the Unknown, Red Tornado, Starman, and others to find out more about the Dark Multiverse, but many members of the team were presumed to have been killed when they tried to enter it. Hawkman finally decided to go in himself. Shiera was against Carter going in, but he felt he had no choice. He went in and was not heard from again. After he disappeared, we're not told what happened to Shiera but it appears that she eventually died and was reincarnated. However, when she reincarnated, she was split into two people; Shayera Hol and Kendra Saunders. The villain in the Justice League series called Perpetua used her powers and split Shiera into two people because she had the ability to connect to a power source called the Totality and stop Perpetua when she would try to take over the universe. Split in two, Shiera would be unable to use the power of the Totality fully.

   So when Shiera was reincarnated, she was split into two beings; Shayera Hol of Thanagar and Kendra Saunders of Earth. Let’s look at Kendra/Hawkgirl first.

Art by Jim Lee
   Kendra was reincarnated on Earth and joined the Blackhawks. It appears that she knew of her past and her connection to Carter Hall. She eventually became the Blackhawks’ leader and led the secret resistance against the Dark Multiverse. When Barbatos threatened to come into the Multiverse, she came to the Justice League to help. During the Metal event, she was transformed by Barbatos into the Lady Blackhawk creature, but Wonder Woman helped her break the hold. After Barbatos was defeated, Kendra became Hawkgirl, with new powers that she did not fully understand. She was invited to join the Justice League in their effort to stop Perpetua from returning.

Art by Jim Cheung, Stephen Segovia, Mark Morales

   Kendra does not seem to have any feelings for Carter, only the memories of what she shared with him in her previous lives. As a member of the Justice League, she developed romantic feelings for the Martian Manhunter, but it was an awkward relationship. However, during a battle in the 6th dimension, they discovered that the versions of themselves there had a son. When that hypothetical dimension was destroyed by Superman, their "son" returned with them, complicating (cementing?) their relationship. In the Justice League series, their son sacrificed himself to save his “father, “ but Perpetua still won the battle. 

From Justice League No. 59 (May 2021)

   During the Death Metal series, Perpetua was finally defeated and Earth was restored. In the following event caled the Dark Crisis, the Justice League appeared to be killed but they were actually imprisoned on their own parallel Earths. Hawkgirl was also stuck on an Earth where she searched for a way to end the reincarnation cycle and live her last life as a mortal.  She drank from the Vase of Mortality and thought she had finally become mortal and in control of her own destiny. Eventually, Hawkgirl and the other Justice League members are brought back to Earth but they decide not to bring back the Justice League for now. The new Hawkgirl series is going to set her up in a new city, away from any of her past, but the writer Jadzia Axelrod has said that her story is connected to the current Hawkman (Carter Hall) and Hawkowman (Shayera Hol). 

Art by Jim Cheung, Stephen Segovia, Mark Morales

Now let’s talk about Shayera Hol/Hawkwoman. We are first introduced to her in Justice League No. 14 (February 2019). This is where some rebooting comes in. In Savage Hawkman #12-16 (October 2012–March 2013), we were introduced to Shayera Thal. James Tynion IV, the writer of the Justice League series, sometimes does a question session on Twitter. During one of those question and answer sessions, he talked about Hawkwoman in the Justice League series. Here is the exchange. 

   So, to put it simply, the Shayera Thal who appeared in Savage Hawkman has been rewritten into the current Shayera Hol. Using this information, I have tried to piece together her story.

The new Thanagar Prime (From Justice League No. 14)

   Shayera reincarnated from Shiera as the daughter of Thal Provis, Lord of Thanagar. She was married to Katar Hol, the Savage Hawkman, and took his name. Thanagar was attacked by Despero and practically destroyed, while Katar died trying to stop him. With Thanagar destroyed, Shayera led her people back to the original Thanagar called Thanagar Prime. It was ruled by the demon Onimar Synn, but they were able to overthrow him after the events of Metal and Shayera became the Empress of Thanagar. Under the influence of the Absorbascon, she used any way necessary to rebuild Thanagar and broke many laws. When Kendra, John Stewart, and the Martian Manhunter came to her for some answers about Kendra’s connection to the Totality, she attacked them and even attempted to kill them. The Martian Manhunter helped her break free from the Absorbascon, and she realized she was wrong. Starman appeared and used his powers to make her a whole person for the first time in her life. 

From Justice League No. 16

   When Kendra was made whole, Shayera asked, "Did you just rip out my soul and give it to her?" Starman replied, "Your soul is your own. Your story is your own, and I've given that back to you." In other words, Kendra became the being that Perpetua feared most, and Shayera became the one who had the connection to Hawkman since the beginning of time. She was about to be arrested by the Green Lantern Corps, but she was given another chance to lead her people in the right way. Given another chance and in her right mind, she worked to rebuild Thanagar and assist the Justice League with her Thanagarian army when they needed help.

From Hawkman No. 15

   In the Hawkman series by Venditti, the Shade witnessed Carter Hall being overcome by the Sky Tyrant, and he knew that the only way to bring Carter back was to ask for Shayera’s help, so he contacted her through the Justice League, knowing what Carter and Shayera meant to each other. Shayera arrived on Earth to help Carter fight the influence of the Sky Tyrant. It appeared that she did not remember a lot of her past, but she remembered enough to know that she has a connection to Carter. She remembered many of their past lives. During her fight with Sky Tyrant, she talked about some of their past lives together. While Kendra Saunders did not feel or desire any connection with Carter Hall, it became clear that Shayera was the one who remembered their past, had feelings for Carter, and a desire to reconnect.

From Hawkman No. 18

   Shayera quickly realized Hawkman was not himself. During her battle with the Sky Tyrant, she said, "Whoever turned you into this, they don't understand what makes you work. No matter what it takes, I'll find a way. I'll fix you." Shayera proceeded to completely own the Sky Tyrant in battle, finally impaling him with his own mace and causing him to flee.

From Hawkman No. 21

   Shayera chased after Sky Tyrant with the help of the Atom (Ray Palmer) and Adam Strange. They discovered that he was after an item called “The Key.” It turned out to be a remnant of the pillar that was the doorway for the Lord of the Void to return.

From Hawkman No. 7

   This brings us to the origin of Shayera. In Hawkman No. 7, Venditti gave us the new origin of Hawkman. He was the general of a murderous army called the Deathbringers and the sole reason for their creation was to sacrifice innocents to the evil entity called the Lord of the Void. The more they killed, the closer this entity came to enter this realm. However, somewhere along the way, Ktar (Hawkman) began to question what he was doing. As soon as he began questioning his actions, a red-haired woman appeared. In Hawkman No. 22 (May 2020), her name was revealed to be Shrra. She did not have wings, but she mysteriously appeared in front of Ktar, no matter what planet they were on. It appears that she helped break him down and gave him the strength to rebel against the Lord of the Void.

From Hawkman No. 7

   Ktar fought against the Deathbringers and was able to defeat them, sending them into another realm. However, he was mortally wounded. As he lay dying, Shrra appeared next to him and held his hand as he died. When Ktar died, another entity appeared in front of him and gave him the power of reincarnation. It was now Ktar’s mission to save as many lives as he took. When he accomplished this, his reincarnation cycle would be complete and his next death would be his last. This probably happened many millennia ago, but it’s hard to fathom how many lives Ktar took, as he saved lives through many many reincarnations.

From Hawkman No. 22

   Shayera, Atom and Adam Strange discovered “The Key” and captured the Sky Tyrant. When they were trying to figure out how to reverse the infection and bring back Carter, Shayera touched the key and many of her past lives were revealed to her. She finally remembered what her purpose was, why she was in a reincarnation cycle, and why she had such a deep love for Carter. When Sky Tyrant escaped and tried to take the key, they touched it at the same time and were thrown into another dark realm.

From Hawkman No. 23

   When they were thrown into another realm, Shayera was getting ready to kill Sky Tyrant to keep him from taking the key and kill billions of people. But somehow, being thrown into another realm reversed the infection, and Carter Hall finally returned. Hawkman and Hawkwoman had finally found each other again.

   In a flashback, we discover that Shayera was called Shrra in her first life. She was a herald-angel who served an un-named entity. The entity planned to allow creation to be taken over by the evil entity called The Lord of the Void as it had decided creation and man was a failure. Shrra intervened and helped Ktar defeat the Deathbringers and send The Lord of the Void back into his realm. As punishment, Shrra was stripped of her position and cursed to be reincarnated along with Ktar until he atoned for his sins. Until then, she would not be allowed back into the presence of the entity. Shra swore that she would help Ktar achieve his purpose and return to the entity someday. 

Hawkman Vol. V No. 25 (September 2020)

Hawkman Vol. V No. 25 (September 2020)

   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 appear once again in front of the entity that gave them the power of reincarnation. They are in their original form of Ktar and Shrra. Ktar has finally atoned for his past sins and is ready to enter the afterlife. Shrra has proven herself to be correct in believing in Ktar and  is about to be reinstated as a Herald. However, the entity senses that they are wanting to remain together, so it grants 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 the 1940s when Hawkman was a member of the Justice Society. 

   With the power of reincarnation gone, Carter begins to fear death, knowing that it will mean the end. Shayera is determined to live their last life to the fullest and is frustrated by Carter's fear. They also discover that Hath-Set is alive and has stolen the Nth Metal knife used to kill them so many years ago in Egypt. They battle Hath-Set and are nearly killed by him, but Carter overcomes his fear and defeats his nemesis. 

   The ending of the series by Robert Venditti gives Hawkman and Hawkwoman a new story that we have never seen. They go on to live together, fighting side by side with the Justice Society, the Green Lantern Corps, and other groups. Times passes and they age very slowly. 

From Hawkman Vol. V No. 29 (January 2021)

   We finally see them in the 40th century. Carter is battle-scarred and seemingly retired from fighting, while Shayera is an instructor at what appears to be the Legion Academy where she is training new heroes. They are old and gray-haired but very much alive and very much in love. Their story continues as the series ends. 

From Hawkman Vol. V No. 29 (January 2021)

   We next see Shayera with Carter in a special Valentine's Day issue. They are back in the current time, having adventures together. 

   Venditti gave us something that has rarely ever been given; a happy ending. Even though we saw a glimpse into the future, there are many, many more stories to be written about Hawkwoman; one of the most iconic heroines in comic book history. Her past lives, her future adventures, and her life of love and partnership with Carter are waiting to be told. Here's hoping that her fans get to see them someday.

   So there we have it, DC Comics has given us two separate superheroes, Hawkgirl /Kendra Saunders and Hawkwoman/Shayera Hol. If DC can include the two heroes in other series and their own books going forward, it could clear up the history of the two and give us two winged superheroines with completely different backgrounds and powers. With Kendra's past as Lady Blackhawk and Shayera's past as the Empress of Thanagar Prime, there is great potential for some great stories for the fans. Also, with Hawkgirl appearing in the new Superman movie, here is a big opportunity for one of the two to step out from the other. Kendra also gets her first series in 16 years so we'll have to see where DC Comics takes her story. It's getting interesting. Let's hope they don't waste it. 


  1. Thank you SO much. I dropped off Hawkman awhile back as I just wasn’t keen on the new origin, but have been wanting to give it another go because Robert Venditti is just so good. I really couldn’t face any more Infected issues after the awfulness of Supergirl. but you persuaded me to try #23 and I loved it. And this article is really useful, plus, amazing diagram. Great work!

    1. Thanks, Martin! Just trying to make Hawkwoman as easy to follow as possible!

  2. can hawkwoman and hawkgirl coexist or is it something like Power Girl and Super Girl where reality would fall apart?

    1. They can coexist. That was established in Scott Snyder's Justice League run, especially in #14-16.

  3. How does them being transported into 1940s work though? Until that point the story was set in "present" right? So when they end up in 1940s what does that do to the continuity?

    1. As far as we know, they were just placed back where they were in the 1940s. So it hasn't changed anything yet. They would go on as members of the Justice Society and then the Justice League.

    2. But isnt change inevitable? Meaning its set in alternative reality? I mean if the are back but know things that will happen(since they already lived through that time once).
      Side note: I wanted to get into Hawk comics for very long time, but i always end up being put off because
      of how big mess their story is. Honestly i dislike how Hawk lady is separated into two, and prefer her together with Hawkman, making me hate John Stewart/martian manhunter stuff. With casting of hawkgirl in new superman movie im kind of skeptical about how will they treat Hawkman this time, im expecting nothing good at this point, it almost seems to me like DC Is hell bent on separating these two. Anyway big thank you for being big Hawk fan and running this blog, trying to make it easier for newcomers to navigace.

    3. Btw im gonna try to jump in 2018 Venditti run as there is a lot of praise for it, hope its not too bad of a stating point.

  4. in the justice league when the kendra was made whole thing happened i thought that confirmed kendra as carter's eternal love/partner. since kendra origin was a "cosmic accident" of merging the body of kendra with the soul of sheira. so what did rebirth shayera have that belonged to kendra? in the new hawkgirl series there is a panel showing kendra thinking about the same past lives as shayera does in the hawkman series. the picture you have from hawkman 22. so wouldnt it make more sense that kendra "owed" something to shayera and not the other way around?


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