Art by Adam Kubert

Jun 15, 2021

The Basic Foundation of Hawkman

 When I read an article, watch a YouTube video, or chat with someone about Hawkman, there is almost always the comment about how confusing he is. I don't dispute that, because there are different versions. There are the Golden Age Earth-2, Siver Age Earth-1, Hawkworld, Zero Crisis, Savage, and the current versions. They all have different origins and stories. 


When you look at Superman or Batman, the stories are relatively simple. Superman escaped the destruction of Krypton, landed on Earth, was raised by an American couple, and became a reporter for the Daily Planet in Metropolis. Batman saw his parents murdered and swore his life to avenge them and defeat evil by using his wealth and abilities in Gotham. 

Action Comics No. 1, Detective Comics No. 33

So what about Hawkman? There are different versions, and some of them have even coexisted at the same time. DC Comics really botched up a bunch of characters with their endless crisis events and reboots. They seem to try to take care of their first-tier characters, but the other characters are often swept under the rug, leaving their fringe fans wondering what is going on. Hawkman has been rebooted and rewritten several times. The TV versions have always altered his story as well. It's no wonder that everyone is confused. 
But all the versions are just layers of his story. There is a foundation to the character, just like there is for Superman and Batman. When in doubt, always go back to the beginning.

Flash Comics No. 1 (January 1940)

Hawkman first appeared in Flash Comics No. 1. His name is Carter Hall. He is described as a wealthy weapons collector and research scientist. This sets up his knowledge of both weapons and science that he uses in his battles. 



In the very first issue, Carter Hall's reincarnation is brought up. This is what separates Hawkman from all the other heroes and gives us the key to tie everything together. Geoff Johns really began to expand on his reincarnation during the 2000s, and Robert Venditti took it a step further in the most recent series (Hawkman Vol. V, 2018-2021) by how Hawkman had been reincarnating across time and space. 

Reincarnation is the key to understanding Hawkman. All of the versions that we have seen, every last one of them, are connected. The current Carter Hall/Hawkman that we see in the comics today has all the memories and knowledge of the past versions. The Thanagarian version, the Savage version, the Egyptian version, all of them are his past lives. 
Venditti blew the doors open on the reincarnation and past lives of Hawkman. We know now that Hawkman has lived for millions of years, with past lives on Thanagar, Rann, Krypton, the Microverse, the Microverse, Earth-3 and even the Dark Multiverse.

Hawkman Vol. V No. 1 (August 2018)

While there are many versions of Hawkman, there is no need to be confused about who or what he is. Stay with the basic Hawkman's back story of reincarnation. If you try to fit it all together in one nice puzzle, it's not going to work. DC Comics, in all its crazy reboots and ideas, has created a character that is relatively simple and fabulously complicated and deep at the same time. 
The Basics of Hawkman is simply this: 
Hawkman is Carter Hall; an archaeologist and historian who discovered the mysterious Nth metal. The Nth metal gave him his powers of flight, super-strength, super-endurance, regeneration/healing, and many other abilities. As a homage to Horus, the hawk god of the sky, he wears wings and a winged helmet. The Nth metal also triggered the memory of his past lives, revealing his past lives in Egypt, England, the old West, and on Thanagar, Rann, Krypton, New Genesis, and many other planets. Together with his wife/partner Hawkwoman (Shayera Hol), he fights the forces of evil who would take the precious lives of others.


When you see Hawkman, don't look at him as a complicated character who is impossible to understand. There are many chapters and stories and each one is a part of one character; Hawkman. In Hawkman Vol. V No. 8, Hawkman is described as the living historical document of the universe. He has lived through the history of DC Comics. By reading Hawkman, you can discover the history of DC Comics as well. 

Hawkman Vol. V No. 8 (March 2019)

Yes, Hawkman and Hawkwoman are complicated at times. It's not always a perfect fit. But it doesn't need to be. What started in Flash Comics No. 1 way back in 1940 is still continuing. Give Hawkman and Hawkwoman a try. You might be amazed at the intricate and beautiful story of life and love that you will find in these characters. 

Check out my other articles and charts of their history!
Hawkman and Hawkwoman's Timeline
A Guide to All the Versions of Hawkman
A Guide through the History of Hawkman
The Story of Hawkwoman and Hawkgirl
The Ultimate List of All Hawkman Comics

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