Whenever you read an article or watch a video about Hawkman, one of the first things they say about the character is that he's "confusing" or "convoluted." Granted, Hawkman has been through a few changes, and many of the crisis events or reboots that DC Comics loves so much have left him getting the short end of the stick. But if you have actually read Hawkman comics, you can put the basics together to see how the character got to where he is today. In this article, I will explain the story of each major character that had the name of Hawkman, where you can find them, and where they ended up.
|Carter Hall I Art by Quique Alcatena, George Gonzalez, Alex Garcia|
Carter Hall I
First appearance: Flash Comics #1 (1940)
Flash Comics #1-104 (1940-1949)
All-Star Comics #1-57 (1940-1951), #58-#74 (1976-1978)
Last Days of the Justice Society of America (1986)
Armageddon Inferno #1-4 (1992)
Justice Society of America Vol. 1 #1-8 (1991)
Justice Society of America Vol. 2 #1-10 (1992)
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #1-4 (1994)
Years Active: 1940-1994
Three costume changes:
Hawk helmet (Flash Comics No. 1, Release date Nov. 20, 1939)
Yellow cowl (Flash Comics No. 98, Release date June 7, 1948)
Metallic helmet (All-Star Comics No. 72, Release date February 21, 1978)
The first Carter Hall was a wealthy archaeologist and collector. He appeared to be based in New York City during the 1940s and in Chicago in the 1980s and 90s. He discovered that he was reincarnated by coming into contact with Nth Metal. He was a charter member of the Justice Society. He became the chairman of the team in All-Star Comics No. 7 and stayed in that position until the end of the Golden Age in 1951. He teamed up with Shiera Sanders as Hawkman and Hawkgirl. They were married and had one son, Hector. Hector, who was the superheroes Silver Scarab, Sandman, and Doctor Fate, would marry Lyta and they had a son named Daniel. This boy would go on to become Dream of the Endless of Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
After the Golden Age, Carter and Shiera appeared in the All-Star Squadron Comics (1981-1987). In this series, the Hawks' lives were prolonged during a battle with Ian Karkull. This allowed them to stay young into the 90s. With the reboot in the Hawkworld series (1990), Carter and Shiera came out of retirement and joined the Justice League as advisers in the 1960s. Take that as you may.
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Carter and Shiera were trapped in Ragnarok with other JSA members from 1986-1992. To explain the appearance of Hawkman and Hawkwoman in the late 80s and in the Hawkworld series, DC Comics revealed that imposters had taken their place. From 1987-1992, Fel Andar, a Thanagarian spy, and Sharon Parker, a brain-washed woman of Earth, took over as Hawkman and Hawkwoman. When their secret was revealed, Fel Andar killed Sharon and escaped back to Thanagar. Carter and Shiera returned from Ragnarok during the events of Armageddon Inferno (1992).
After returning from Ragnarok, Carter and Shiera would run into Katar and Shayera of Hawkworld a couple of times. During the events of Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, Carter would be merged with Katar Hol II (see below) and the Hawk Avatar. Shiera was killed at this time, but her soul would go into Kendra Saunders. This is basically the end of Carter Hall I.
|Art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez|
Katar Hol I
First appearance: The Brave and the Bold #34 (1961)
The Brave and the Bold #34-36 (1961)
The Brave and the Bold #42-44 (1962)
Mystery in Space #87-90 (1963-1964)
Hawkman Vol. 1 #1-27 (1964-1968)
The Atom and Hawkman #39-45 (1968-1969)
Justice League of America #31-#240(1964-1985)
The Shadow War of Hawkman #1-4
Hawkman Vol. 2 #1-17
Convergence Hawkman #1-2
Years Active: 1961-1987, 2015
Two Costume Changes:
Wingless Helmet (The Brave and the Bold No. 34, Release date Dec. 29, 1960)
Winged Helmet (The Brave and the Bold No. 42, Release date April 26, 1962)
The Silver Age Hawkman first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #34 in 1961. He was a police officer from Thanagar, and his wife/partner was Shayera Hol. They came to Earth to capture Byth, the shape-shifting Thanagarian criminal. They captured him but decided to stay on Earth to learn its police methods. With the assistance of police commissioner George Emmett, they made their base in Midway City. They worked as Carter and Shiera Hall, curators of the Midway City Museum. During their stay on Earth, Thanagar fell into a fascist dictatorship. Katar and Shayera refused to follow the new ruler so they became fugitives from their own planet. They eventually joined the Justice League and made Earth their second home. During the Silver and Bronze Ages, there were very few references to reincarnation. When the Crisis on Infinite Earths happened, Hawkman and Hawkwoman were left hanging, with no one really explaining where they fit in the new DC Universe. This version of Hawkman and Hawkwoman would eventually be retconned and placed on Earth-85. It's also explained that Carter and Shiera Hall of the Golden Age came out of retirement and joined the Justice League as "advisers" and taking the place of Katar and Shayera in the "main" continuity.
Katar Hol I disappeared for many years but finally reappeared in 2015's Convergence Hawkman. Katar and Shayera fought to protect their home, but in the end, it seemed that they were wiped out of existence, but they were actually sent back to their own universe.
Note: The Convergence event was extremely confusing and spread out all over the place, but it appears that this event was DC Comics' attempt to restore everything that happened before the Crisis events. This would mean that Katar Hol I is back in his own alternate universe.
|Katar Hol II Art by Tim Truman, Jan Duursema, Chris Warner|
First Appearance: Hawkworld #1 (1989)
Hawkworld Vol. 1 (1989)
Hawkworld Vol. 2 (1990-1993)
Hawkman Vol. 3 (1993-1996)
Years Active: 1989-1996
Wingless helmet, gray uniform with metal wings (Hawkworld No. 1, Release date June 15, 1989)
Winged helmet, gray uniform with metal wings (Hawkworld Vol. 2 No. 1, Release date April 12, 1990)
Red, yellow and black uniform (Hawkworld Vol. 2 No. 25, Release date June 18, 1992)
Dark blue uniform (Hawkman Vol. 3 No. 1, Release date July 29, 1993)
Organic wings, tasseled gloves, blue tights, gray shorts, long hair (Hawkman Vol. 3 No. 13, July 21, 1994)
In 1989, DC Comics rebooted the story of the Thanagarian Katar Hol. He was the privileged son of Paran Katar, the inventor of the flying cities and wings that the police force used to fly. Katar Hol became a wingman and was accused of killing his own father. After ten years on a prison island, he was released into the Downside, the slums of Thanagar. There he met wingman officer Shayera Thal. They would eventually team up and expose Byth's crimes. Byth escaped to Earth, so Thanagar sent Katar and Shayera after him. While on Earth, they were based in Chicago. During their stay, they fell in love but rebelled against their superiors' orders and became fugitives of Thanagar. They later discovered that Katar was the son of Paran and Naomi Carter, a native American Indian who he had met back in the 40s when he was scouting Earth. In 1994, during the Zero Hour event, Katar, Carter Hall I, and a Hawk avatar were merged together, creating a new Hawkman. He was now mostly Katar with the consciousness of Carter. However, merging with the Hawk avatar gradually drove Katar insane. He pushed Shayera away and she ended up leaving him and joining the Detroit police force. Finally, in 1996, he could take no more. After being mortally wounded, he was sent into another realm by the Martian Manhunter and Arion, seemingly dying (1996). Shayera Thal eventually returned to Thanagar, but she was killed by Blackfire during the Rann-Thanagar War (2005).
|Carter Hall II Art by Adam Kubert|
Carter Hall II
First Appearance: JSA #23 (2001)
Hawkman Vol. 4 (2002-2006)
Years Active: 2001-2011
Costume: This version stayed fairly consistent throughout its run. (JSA No. 23, Release date April 18, 2001)
DC Comics, and specifically Geoff Johns, finally figured out how to bring Hawkman back. In 1999, a new Hawkgirl appeared. Kendra Saunders was the granddaughter of Speed Saunders, the cousin of Shiera. Shiera had been killed during the merger of Katar and Carter with the Hawk avatar, so Speed trained his granddaughter to become the new Hawkgirl. In 2001, the Thanagarian demon called Onimar Synn had taken over Thanagar. To save their planet, the priests of the Downsiders transported Kendra to Thanagar. They needed to bring back Hawkman but only Hawkgirl could do that. Kendra stepped up to a place called the Well of Spirits, the doorway to the realm where Hawkman was trapped. Sensing her presence, Hawkman found his way back and emerged from the nether world.
This Hawkman was different. He now had the merged body of Carter Hall I and Katar Hol II. The body was mostly Carter's and he had the consciousness of Katar in his mind. This was the first version of Hawkman to really dive into his power of reincarnation and his past lives. This Hawkman now had the knowledge of both Earth and Thanagar. He could speak thousands of languages. He was a respected and revered hero on Thanagar. Many of his past lives were revealed; Prince Khufu, the Silent Knight, Nighthawk, and many more. However, Kendra, who had Shiera's soul, had no romantic feelings for Carter, while Carter believed it was their continued destiny to be together, so it caused some friction between the two for many years. During the Blackest Night event, Carter and Kendra were killed by Elongated Man and his wife Sue, but they were resurrected at the end of the event. However, when Hawkgirl was resurrected, it was Shiera, not Kendra. During the Brightest Day event, Carter and Shiera were killed once again by the White Lantern. They were brought back as air elementals, and at the end of the event, only Carter was brought back. This Hawkman is last seen trashing the St. Roch museum, mourning the death of Shiera. And then a DC reboot and this version disappeared.
|Katar Hol III Art by Joe Bennett|
Katar Hol III
First Appearance: The Savage Hawkman No. 1 (November 2011)
The Savage Hawkman (2011-2013)
Justice League of America (2013-2014)
Death of Hawkman (2016-2017)
Justice League #14-16 (2018)
Years Active: 2011-2018
Costume: This version stayed fairly consistent throughout its run. It had organic wings, a huge ax or mace, and thigh-high gold boots. (The Savage Hawkman No. 1, Release date September 28, 2011)
Katar Hol III was a gladiator on Thanagar. He became the champion of Thanagar and was placed in an important position under Lord Thal Provis. Katar fell in love with Provis' daughter Shayera and became a member of the royal family. When Provis died, his son Corsar became king. Corsar was determined to mine the last remaining Nth Metal to have the power to go to war. When they discovered the Nth Metal, the metal attached itself to Katar's body. Corsar fought Katar for control of it and Corsar was seemingly killed in the fight. Shayera blamed Katar for her brother's death and sought to kill him. Katar escaped Thanagar and crash-landed on Earth. The crash caused him to lose the memory of his life on Thanagar. On Earth, he was a cryptologist in New York named Carter Hall and he also used his Nth Metal powers as Hawkman. Shayera and the Thanagarians came to Earth and captured him. On the way back to Thanagar, it is revealed that Corsar still lived and planned to go to war on their enemies. The Nth Metal once again bonded with Katar and prevented Corsar from controlling the metal. Shayera realized how insane her brother had become and helped Katar escape, but died with her brother when their ship exploded.
Katar returned to Earth and joined the new Justice League for a time but finally returned to Thanagar. He joined the police force but was often reprimanded for his violent tactics. Despero tricked Thanagar into war against Rann, making Katar and Adam Strange fugitives. After destroying Thanagar by blowing up its moon, Despero almost collected all of the Nth Metal in existence, but Katar sacrificed his life to defeat Despero and send him to the outer edge of the universe.
Reboot: After 2017's Metal event, some changes were made to the continuity of the story. Katar was apparently married to Shayera, the daughter of the emperor of Thanagar. After Katar died when defeating Despero, she became the Empress of Thanagar and moved her people to Thanagar Prime, the ancient home of the Thanagarians, and began rebuilding their world. Shayera used the Absorbascon to bring Katar back, but it was a mindless imitation of her husband. When the Justice League came and broke the Absorbascon's control over Shayera, Katar faded away.
Note: This is my personal theory of how it all fits here. When Carter Hall III went into the dark multiverse, he was changed into the Dragon of Barbatos. This was a kind of death and it triggered the reincarnation process. And Katar Hol III (Savage Hawkman was born. So in a way, Hawkman existed in the multiverse and the dark multiverse at the same time, being split in two. Carter Hall III was rescued by the Justice League and returned to the multiverse, but Katar Hol III was already deceased at that time.
|Carter Hall III Art by Bryan Hitch|
Carter Hall III
First Appearance: The Savage Hawkman No. 1 (November 2011)
Dark Days The Forge (2017)
Dark Days The Casting (2017)
Dark Nights Metal (2017-2018)
Hawkman Vol. V (2018-2021)
Years Active: 2017-present
Costume: This costume stayed the same throughout its run. Gladiator-style helmet, thick yellow line on tights, no gloves. (Hawkman Vol. V No. 1, Release date June 13, 2018)
During the first half of the 20th century, Carter Hall was an archaeologist based in St. Roch. With his wife Shiera, he studied the Nth Metal and realized it was from a dark multiverse. He set up his base on Blackhawk Island in the South Pacific and gathered a team together (Blackhawks, Challengers of the Unknown, Starman, Red Tornado, Metal Men, Dr. Will Magnus, Dr. T.O. Morrow) to find the answers to the Nth Metal. After the Challengers of the Unknown perished when they tried to enter the dark multiverse, Carter decided to go in himself to find the answers. He was captured for a long time and was finally changed into the Dragon of Barbatos, Keeper of the Dark Forge. The Justice League is able to defeat Barbatos and rescue Carter Hall from the dark multiverse. Carter Hall reverts back to the way he was when he entered the dark multiverse and his story in Hawkman Vol. V begins.
Once he was back in his universe, Carter realizes that he has forgotten his past, so he heads out to find it. He discovers that his first life was not Prince Khufu, but Ktar Deathbringer, a general of an army that served an evil entity called the Lord of the Void. To gain the power to enter the multiverse, this god required millions of sacrifices. Ktar and his army invaded planet after planet, killing millions of people. However, Ktar began to realize this was wrong and he began to rebel against the purpose for which he was created. One of the catalysts for his change was Shrra, a herald of God and Hawkwoman's first life. Ktar rebels and defeats the army, sending them back into the other realm. He was mortally wounded and ready to be judged for his sins. God appeared before him and said he noticed good in Ktar. He gave Ktar a choice; have his existence wiped away forever or to be reincarnated across time and space. His mission was to save as many people as he killed during his time as a Deathbringer. Once he had atoned for his sins, he would no longer be reincarnated and would die his final death. Ktar accepted the mission and his reincarnation cycle began.
Ktar would reincarnate for thousands, possibly millions of years. He would have lives on Earth, Thanagar, Rann, Krypton, the Microverse, New Genesis, and many other worlds. In each life, he would meet Shrra, who choose to assist Ktar in his quest to atone for all the death he caused.
The Deathbringer army returns to this universe and sets out to find Ktar for revenge. They come to Earth and attack London. Carter seemingly has no chance to defeat them but then his past lives suddenly appear. There are literally thousands of his past lives and they all attack the Deathbringers. Carter and his past lives defeat the Deathbringers and stop the threat. Later, Carter is infected by the Batman Who Laughs and his consciousness is replaced by Sky Tyrant, the evil Hawkman from Earth-3. Shayera Hol comes to Earth and sets out to help Carter escape from the control of the Sky Tyrant. During a fight, they touch the key which releases the Lord of the Void, and they are sent into another realm. Somehow, this helps Carter break free of the Sky Tyrant's control. They realize they are in the realm of the Lord of the Void. They are attacked by the evil entity but they use the life force of all of their past lives to defeat the villain. However, this kills them as well. God appears before them again and says that Carter has atoned for his sins. He has paid his debt and he will reincarnate no more. He gives Carter and Shayera one more life together. They will age extremely slowly, but this will be their last life. Carter and Shayera go through many centuries together and we last see them old and happy, still together in the 40th century.
Note: There have been several times during Hawkman's 80 years of history where two Hawkmen existed simultaneously. It's my own theory that traveling to other dimensions can trigger the reincarnation process, splitting Hawkman into two beings at times. We saw this happen with Hawkgirl and Hawkwoman in the current Justice League series (#14-16) so it's possible.
I hope this helped explain the Hawks and how they are all connected. There's a lot to cover, so if you think I missed something or if something is unclear, please let me know in the comments section and I'll try to make it clearer.