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

Aug 6, 2020

Hawkman Unleased Part Three: Soaring to New Heights

By Tim Board

Hawkman Unleashed Part One: The Reason and The Components of a Hero 

On March 14, 2018, the new Hawkman series by Robert Venditti was announced. About a month after the announcement, I had the huge privilege of joining Rob and Jace Milam on The Comic Source podcast to talk about the upcoming series.
During the podcast, Jace said, "...ten, fifteen years from now when someone asks Tim which Hawkman run he should read and Tim says, "Read Venditti's run. That's where it's at."
We're two years into the run and I'm there. Rob's run on Hawkman has become the definitive run for comic book fans to find out about Hawkman. There have been many great series in the history of Hawkman and this does not take anything away from those fantastic stories. But Venditti's run has brought it all together, connected everything, and explained the great characters of Hawkman and Hawkwoman. This is the fifth series titled Hawkman and usually, it would be Vol. 5, but since the very beginning, I've been calling it Vol. V in honor of Venditti. For the third and final article, let's take a look at what Venditti has brought to the origin/purpose, secret identity, love, powers, weapons, locations, villains, supporting cast, and death/reincarnation of Hawkman.

1. Origin/Purpose 
Hawkman Vol. V No. 7 (February 2019) 

Hawkman has been given mainly three different origins in the past; one as Prince Khufu of Egypt, the second as the Silver Age Katar Hol of Thanagar, and the third as the Katar Hol of Hawkworld. There have been others, but these three are the most popular and talked about among comic book fans. Because of the different origins and overlapping stories, Hawkman is considered to be "one of the most confusing characters in comics."
When Venditti was asked to take on the Hawkman series, he has said in many interviews that he sat down and within the hour he had the answer to bringing all the Hawkman versions together.

"Across time and space." 

Venditti created an origin that is bigger than anyone had thought of in the past. Geoff Johns really opened the door to the concept of reincarnation that Gardner Fox had introduced in Flash Comics No. 1 (January 1940). During Hawkman Vol. 4 (2002-06), it was revealed that Hawkman had many lives in the past; Khufu, the Silent Knight, and Nighthawk. There was also a French musketeer, a 14-century priest, a Japanese samurai, a German blacksmith, an early 20th-century detective, and many more. Venditti took the idea of reincarnation and added the entire universe to it. But to do that, he decided to make a much darker and older origin of Hawkman than we had ever seen.
Venditti says that when he went to the high council of DC to make his pitch, he described Hawkman as a "reverse-Lucifer." A dark being that became good. And Ktar Deathbringer was created. 
The story starts at the beginning of time when Ktar was the general of a huge winged army called the Deathbringers. The Deathbringers served an entity called The Lord of the Void. This evil entity required sacrifices to gain enough power to enter into the Multiverse and spread its evil there. Katar took his army from planet after planet; Thanagar, Earth, Krypton, Rann, Qward, Starhaven and many others. They killed without remorse, collecting the people of the planets to sacrifice to their god. It is unclear how many deaths that Ktar was responsible for, but it would have to be in the billions. It was what he was created for and he did it well.
But something happened along the way. He began to feel remorse. He tired of all the killing and started to doubt his purpose. It was at that time that Shrra appeared. 

Hawkman Vol. V No. 25 (September 2020)
Shrra was a herald angel of an unnamed entity. This entity had grown tired of the evil of man and had decided to allow it to fall into darkness. But Shrra saw good in Ktar. She began to appear before Ktar, even speaking to him at times. Her appearance made the remorse in Ktar intensify and it inspired him to defeat the Deathbringers and send them back into a dark realm, thereby preventing The Lord of the Void from entering the Multiverse. In the battle with the Deathbringers, Ktar was mortally wounded. Shrra appeared before him and held his hand as he died. Before he passed into the afterlife, the unnamed entity appeared before Ktar. He saw the good in Ktar so he gave him a choice. Pass into the afterlife for judgment, or enter into a cycle of reincarnation, a cycle that will not end until Ktar saves as many lives as he took and atones for his deeds. Ktar chose the path of redemption and entered into the cycle of reincarnation that continues to this day. 
As for Shrra, the unnamed entity was displeased that she had interfered with his plan and stripped her of her wings. He bound her soul to Ktar and she was sentenced to the reincarnation cycle with Ktar. 
Ever since then, Ktar and Shrra, Hawkman and Hawkwoman, have reincarnated together across time and space, saving lives, repaying Ktar's debt, and marching closer and closer to the end of their reincarnation. 
This is a bigger, grander, and much more far-reaching origin than anyone ever dared to imagine for Hawkman and Hawkwoman. It brings all of their stories together, it gives them purpose, and it explains why they do what they do. This is amazing story-telling by Venditti. 
Ktar was once a Deathbringer, but now he is a Lifebringer. Shrra was once an angel, but now she is a mortal. Hawkman and Hawkwoman were "confusing" but now their story has a rich and deep origin that brings it all together. 

2. Secret Identity 

Hawkman Vol. V No. 2 (September 2018)
Hawkman Vol. V No. 10 (May 2019)

Hawkman Vol. V No. 8 (March 2019)
In every superhero story, the hero has a secret identity, the person he is when is not doing his superhero duties, the person he appears as in front of others, or the person he was in the past. In Kill Bill Vol. 2, Bill (David Carradine) explains his theory about Superman.


Superman is the true identity, and Clark Kent was his costume. Hawkman is the same thing but on a grander scale. He has had many lives; Prince Khufu, Catar-Ol, Katar Hol, and many, many more. But behind all of these personas, there is Hawkman. There is a hero who is living life after life after life, fighting to atone for his mistakes and find redemption. 
Currently, Hawkman is Dr. Carter Hall, an archaeologist who is always after exploration and discovery. In the course of all the reincarnation, he knew he was starting to forgetting his past lives, so he began searching. In the first issue of the current series, we find him searching, looking for clues to rediscover his past. The big discovery at the end of the issue begins his discovery of his true origin and why he does what he does. 
Hawkwoman is Shayera Hol, Empress of Thanagar. It appears that she was born on Thanagar Prime to Lord Thal Provis. When Despero destroyed Thanagar in the Death of Hawkman series, she took the survivors to Thanagar Prime, the original Thanagar that was introduced in Justice League No. 14-16 (February-March 2019). She had been married to Katar Hol of the Savage Hawkman series. After he died, she gradually started to discover her own past and it led her to Carter Hall on Earth. 

3. Love 
Hawkman Vol. V No. 23 (June 2020)
One of the greatest things about the story of Hawkman and Hawkwoman is their love for each other. Shrra saved Ktar from his evil ways and helped him find the good in himself. They have been bound together in reincarnation for thousands and thousands of years. They have always searched for one another, finding one another, living and dying together, and beginning the process all over again. There are complete love and trust between these two that could never be broken. 
When the series began, Shayera was nowhere to be seen. She first appeared in some of her former lives in flashbacks as Chay-ara, Shayera Thal, and others. Carter mentioned her to Ktar, the Shade, and in his journal. With the Infected Secret Six storyline, Venditti may have had to change his plans for her a bit, but he masterfully worked around the crossover event by introducing Sky Tyrant and bringing Hawkwoman into the story. It looks like the two will be together now for the foreseeable future. (Update coming soon!)

Since the 1990s, there have been attempts to split them up. We have seen Hawkgirl with Green Lantern (John Stewart), Red Arrow, and the Martian Manhunter. Hawkman was shown to have a short affair with Power Girl and had another love interest named Emma Ziegler. It doesn't work. The story of Hawkman and Hawkwoman is as strong and as necessary as Superman and Lois Lane. 

Hawkman Vol. V No. 25 (September 2020)
4. Powers 
The powers of Hawkman have varied over the years. Here's a rundown of what he has done in the current series:
Hawkman Vol. V No. 1 (August 2018)
1. Instant costume change. He clicks the logo medallion on his chest and he instantly transforms into Hawkman.
2. Retracting wings. The wings of Hawkman are attached to his harness, but he appears to control them mentally. When the situation calls for it, he is able to instantly pull his wings into the harness and then spread them out again instantly.

Hawkman Vol. V No. 3 (October 2018)
 3. His mace. He appears to have a kind of bond with his mace. When he is not using it, it is just a rod on his belt. When he takes hold of it, it immediately transforms into a mace. The mace also appears to glow at times, so the Nth Metal mace may have other abilities that we haven't seen yet. In another change by Venditti, the mace now flies back to him. Hawkman's abilities differ with each life he has. This ability appears to be a power that he gained after returning from the Dark Multiverse. He may have had that ability in the past, but he didn't remember it and it has not been revealed yet. The mace now can fly back to him and it also acts as a kind of remote-controlled weapon that Hawkman can control in mid-air. This makes perfect sense for an air-borne hero who throws his mace around. Venditti calls the weapon, "Lil' Macey."

Hawkman Vol. V No. 5 (December 2018)
4. Strength. It's not clear how strong Hawkman is. In a battle with a giant Wingor, he takes his mace and fells it with one blow. In issue No. 5, he creates a huge crater on a planet when he strikes it with his mace. He is shown knocking the crap out of a T-Rex on Dinosaur Island. During his battle with the Dathebringer called Idamm, he ripped the metal wing off of him without much trouble. Of course, he's no Superman, but I'm thinking he's just below Aquaman in the strength category. 

Hawkman Vol. V No. 3 (October 2018)
5. Endurance. He appears to have quite a bit of endurance. He fought an army of Feitherans for hours before he finally made his way through. While tangling with Idamm, they went crashing through a building and landed in the street, creating a crater. He didn't seem too affected by it. Hawkman is definitely a tough guy who can take quite a pounding.

Hawkman Vol. V No. 8 (March 2019)
6. Time Travel. This is a new ability that Venditti has given Hawkman, but he appears to have it only at certain times. He uses a place or an artifact to slip back in time to visit a past life. This ability has a lot of potential and I hope we see more of it. 

Hawkman Vol. V No. 1 (August 2018)
7. Flight. Hawkman's premier power is flight. Venditti has said in past interviews that with his experience and knowledge, he would be the premier aerial fighter of the DC Universe. He may not be the fastest, but his ability in the air should be unmatched. One of my favorite moments of Hawkman's aerial ability is in Action Comics No. 491 (January 1979). In the scene, Superman is driven mad and attacks the Justice League satellite. Hawkman is on duty and deals with Superman in a masterful way. 

He sends Superman out of the satellite before he can cause extensive damage, causes Superman to hit a container of Kryptonite to take away his powers, and makes sure he will land in an unpopulated spot in the Pacific Northwest.
OK. I'm impressed. 

5. Weapons
Hawkman Vol. V No. 25 (September 2020)
In the current series, we have only seen Hawkman's mace. In past series, Hawkman was loaded to the teeth with knives, swords, axes, gauntlets, spiked boots, nets, and you name it. Hawkman has definitely been traveling light lately. One major weapon that hasn't made an appearance yet is the Claw of Horus. I have no idea if Venditti ever plans on bringing this weapon into the story, but there have been a few times when he could have used it so who knows. But the signature mace has taken the stage front and center. You can't imagine Hawkman without his mace so it will be interesting to see what happens with the bond Hawkman has with "Lil' Macey." You can read my article on the history of the mace here and the Claw of the Horus here. 

6. Locations

The Soarship
Before the current series started, fans were wondering where Hawkman's base would be. Would it be Thanagar Prime where Hawkwoman is? Maybe Midway City? How about St. Roch? What about the Blackhawk Island reveal that Scott Snyder threw out there but never followed up on? There were plenty of possibilities. But I never expected this. And it's awesome.
The Soarship first appeared in Hawkman Vol. V No. 6 (January 2019). Hawkman followed a clue that led him to a reunion with his best friend the Atom in the Microverse. They discovered that there was a large amount of Nth Metal hidden on a sentient planet named Moz-ga. Thinking that this was the weapon to help him defeat the Deathbringers, the two heroes went in and found a ship. Hawkman remembered that he had hidden it there in a former life when he was a hero called Avion. And boy howdy is this ship loaded.

Hawkman Vol. V No. 6 (January 2020)
1. Nth Metal Reactor Core. The reactor core of the ship is made of Nth Metal. The Nth Metal has been shown to have different abilities over the years but as a reactor core of the power source for a space ship.....DAYUM. The speed and maneuvering capabilities must be insane. We've already seen Hawkman traveling from Krypton to Earth in a matter of days (hours?). I've seen the distance between Krypton and Earth as anything from 27 to 2000 light-years. Regardless, this ship is fast. 
2. Zeta Beam. To escape the planet Moz-ga, Hawkman inadvertently triggered the Zeta Beam, immediately transporting the ship to the Atom's base in the Microverse. This could have been what Hawkman used to get back to Earth so quickly. 
3. Shrinking capabilities. To enter the Microverse, and stay buried on a planet, the ship appears to have the ability to shrink in the way Atom does to enter it. 

Hawkman Vol. V No. 13 (July 2019)
4. Museum and Library. We quickly discover that Hawkan keeps artifacts, weapons, and records from his past lives on this ship. This ship must have the most amazing collection of weapons and other things in the entire DC Universe. The ship also has Hawkman's journals of his former lives. Catar-Ol said he is the "living document of the universe." With all the artifacts and records stored away on board, this ship would have to be the most valuable ship in the universe. 
5. Transportation Capabilities. When Hawkwoman confronted Sky Tyrant, she was handing him his ass on a silver platter. She even impaled him on his own spiked mace. Sky Tyrant quickly saw he had no chance. He simply said "Ship. Zeta transport," and he was immediately transported to the ship waiting in Earth's orbit. Now that is a handy feature. 

Superman has his Fortress of solitude, Batman has his Batcave, and Wonder Woman has her beloved Themyscira. I would love to see the Soarship become the standard base for Hawkman. As for a base on Earth, we have yet to see what Venditti has planned. 

7. Villains 
Wingor, Idamm, Gentleman Ghost, Shadow Thief, Sky Tyrant, Deathbringer
Hawkman has one of the greatest rogues galleries in the DC Universe. Since his debut 80 years ago, many villains have been introduced. In the current series, Venditti has brought back some favorites like the Gentleman Ghost and Shadow Thief, some rarely-used villains like the Wingor, and some new foes like Idamm and the Sky Tyrant. Hath-set will be appearing in Hawkman No. 28. Venditti has mentioned that the Gentleman Ghost is his favorite Hawk-villain, so it's a pretty good bet that we will see him appear again in the series. 
What's fun about the current series is that most of the villains that have appeared have the ability of flight. The Wingor, the Feitherans, Idamm, the Deathbringers, The Lord of the Void, Sky Tyrant are all adversaries of the air. Venditti promised us aerial battles before the series and he has certainly delivered. 

8. Supporting Cast

Hawkman Vol. V No. 6 (January 2019)
Hawkman Vol. V No. 20 (March 2020)
Hawkman Vol. V No. 15 (October 2019)
Every good story needs a supporting cast. During the first 25 issues of the series, Venditti has made it a point to bring in many of Hawkman's best friends and allies as well as introduce us to an amazing network of friends that he has all over the world. Hawkman's friendship with Atom is one of the strongest friendships in the DC Universe and it was great to see Atom in a few issues so far. Adam Strange is also one of Hawkman's closest friends and it was awesome to see Hawkwoman call him for assistance when they were trying to rescue Carter from the Sky Tyrant's influence. Venditti also brought in an unexpected character as a close friend of Carter: The Shade. This was a bit of a surprise but it was really cool to see how the Shade's cane had been a gift from Carter.

Hawkman Vol. V No. 2 (September 2018)
Another real treat has been Carter's friend network. Throughout the world, Carter has been getting some help from his many friends from all corners of the world; Greece, England, Indonesia, and Kenya. All of his friends' ancestors knew or fought with Hawkman in the past and Carter's relationship continues with their descendants. This has been a very interesting method of building up Hawkman's supporting cast. Hawkman is probably the only hero who has the kind of support base so I hope Venditti continues to build it. 

9. Death/Reincarnation

Hawkman Vol. V No. 1 (August 2018)
Hawkman Vol. V No. 22 (May 2020)
Over the years, Hawkman and Hawkwoman/Hawkgirl have been killed more times than I could care to count. Each time they die, they come back somehow. That's what superheroes do. But death has a whole different meaning for these two. For thousands and thousands of years, Hawkman and Hawkwoman have been reincarnated across time and space. They have been reincarnating together, and when they die, they are reborn. During the next life, they eventually find each other and fight to save lives until death takes them again. Over and over and over, these two have experienced life, losing loved ones, watching your partner die, and wondering if you will find each other in the next life. Each situation appears to be different. In some cases, it is assumed that they are born in a family, raised by a mother and father, and as they grow older, they become aware of who they are and what their purpose in life is. In some other cases, they are killed and then immediately wake up in the same situation. It's as though they are given another chance to do it right before moving on.

Hawkman Vol. V No. 13 (August 2019)
Issue No. 13 titled "On Common Ground" is the perfect issue to explain who Hawkman is and what he does. In the story, he is reincarnated on a planet that is at war. He is killed in battle and immediately reincarnated on the same planet but as a soldier for the other side. He is killed again and again. He is given chance after chance to stop the war and save lives but he fails. Finally, instead of fighting, he walks out into the middle of No Man's Land and offers his food as a truce. Hawkwoman is on the other side and together they stop the war and bring peace to the planet. It is a beautiful story that illustrates perfectly how Venditti is writing Hawkman. He has amazing powers, weapons, and a ship. They are a General and an Empress. They have friends and enemies all over the universe. But the main message in the story of Hawkman is about mistakes, repentance, atonement, redemption, and love.
In an interview with Den of Geek, Venditti said "This isn’t the type of story and this isn’t the type of character that you can really see anywhere else in comics. The kind of things we’re going to be doing are things that Hawkman could only be doing. I think that just speaks to who he is as a character, what makes him so unique, and how we get him back to that place of prominence that he deserves in the DC Universe.
I could go on and on about this series. We are currently waiting for issue No. 26 (out August 11th) and it has been consistently good for over two years. In a perfect world, we could get 50, 75, 100 issues of Hawkman by Venditti. But the reality is not as simple. Enjoy the series while you can, and tell your comic book store, friends, Twitter followers, and anyone else who will listen about how great this series has become. Fan support is how we can guarantee that Hawkman will continue to soar in comics. If you love a good, easy-to-follow, inspiring, superhero adventure, let's keep Hawkman soaring! (Update coming soon!)

Hawkman Unleashed Part One: The Reason and The Components of a Hero 
Hawkman Unleashed Part Two: Breaking Down Hawkman's History 

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