Hawkman and Hawkgirl are two of the most iconic characters in American comics history. In the 80+ years since their first appearances, there have been almost 600 comics that featured one or both heroes. They have also been a part of many superhero teams and numerous crisis/crossover events that DC Comics has specialized in over the last few decades. They have been through many reboots, rewrites, and restarts. For a new comic book reader, it's natural not to know where to start with a character that has been around for 80+ years. That's where I come in. I have been a Hawk fan since 1977 when I discovered Hawkman on the back of an out-of-date 1976 DC Calendar. I have followed the twists, turns, flips, and flops over the years to keep it in order. This article is to help you see the amazing journey that these two characters have been on. I'll post a link to the list of comic books that they have a prominent role in, so if you want to look for something and the dates, you'll probably find it there. Enjoy the journey!
|Cover/Center page by Bryan Hitch / Art on right by Fernando Pasarin|
Part 1: The Origin of Hawkman and Hawkwoman
Before we start at the first appearance of the Hawks, I want to explain the origin that was revealed in the latest Hawkman series by Robert Venditti. This origin is vital because it helps us understand the story of the Hawks as we go through their history. The true origins of Hawkman and Hawkwoman are revealed in Hawkman Vol. V No. 7 and No. 25, written by Robert Venditti.
At the beginning (beginning of man), Ktar (Hawkman) was created by an evil entity called the Lord of the Void to conquer planets and sacrifice lives to his lord. He was the general of the Deathbringers, an army of winged soldiers and giant robots that killed and destroyed as they went. They conquered many planets; Thanagar, Earth, Rann, Krypton, Qward, Starhaven, and countless others. Ktar and his army murdered billions and billions of people as a sacrifice to his lord. But then two things happened. First, Ktar suddenly began to question his existence and why he was endlessly killing innocent lives. Although he had been created to serve his lord, he was starting to question it. Second, a red-haired woman named Shrra (her name is revealed in No. 22) mysteriously began to appear before Ktar on each planet. Her presence was what pushed Ktar away from the control of his master and made him realize that the killing must be stopped. In issue No. 25, it is revealed that Shrra (Hawkwoman) was a herald (angel) who served a being that appears to be God. She saw something good in Ktar and interfered with God's plans by helping Ktar defeat the Deathbringers and send them into another dimension, preventing the Lord of the Void from entering their universe and destroying it.
|Art: Bryan Hitch / Writer: Robert Venditti|
During the battle with the Deathbringers, Ktar was mortally wounded. With Shrra at his side and holding his hand, he died. He awoke to find himself standing in a vast field of skulls, all of his victims. God appeared before him and said that he had sensed something good in Ktar, so he gave him a choice; pass into the unlife or receive the power of reincarnation. He would live to save lives and he would continue to reincarnate until he had saved as many lives as he had taken, no matter how long it took. Ktar accepted the power and his cycle of reincarnation began.
Note: writer Robert Venditti has mentioned in interviews that he thought of Ktar as a "reverse-Lucifer," Instead of being made to serve God and then turn evil, Ktar was created to serve a demon-god but turned good.
|Art: Marco Castiello / Writer: Robert Venditti|
|Hawkman Vol. V No. 5 (2018)|
|Hawkman Vol. V No. 5 (2018)|
With these two theories in mind, let's go through the histories of Hawkman and Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman. There have been six main stages of the Hawks over the years.
First Appearance: Flash Comics (January 1940)
Origin: Prince Khufu and Chay-ara of Ancient Egypt
Carter Hall was a wealthy artifacts collector and research scientist in New York City. An archaeologist sent him a package that contained an Nth metal knife which caused Carter to fall into a deep sleep. He dreamt about his past life as an Egyptian prince named Prince Khufu. Through the dream, he remembered his past, his eternal love for Chay-ara, and his death by his arch-enemy, Hath-Set. Carter Hall awoke from his dream and realized the power of the Nth metal. He believed that the Nth metal had given him the power to reincarnate and that it connected him and Chay-ara to Hath-set forever. During a subway disaster, he was reunited with Shiera Sanders, the reincarnation of Chay-ara. He also discovered that Hath-Set (now Anton Hastor) was behind the disaster. He designed a costume after the god Horus and used the Nth metal to fly. After defeating Hastor, Carter went on to develop many weapons with the Nth metal. Shiera also joined his side as Hawkgirl.(!) Carter was a charter member of the Justice Society of America and served as its chairman for over eight years. In a retrospective series, Carter and Shiera were also members of the All-Star Squadron.
Carter and Shiera were soon engaged and later married (never shown in the comics). During World War II, Carter joined the U.S. Air Force and served as a pilot while Shiera joined the Nurses Corp. It was also revealed that Shiera had inherited a fortune and owned a mansion where Carter and Shiera sometimes used to enjoy their time off together. (!) During a fight with the villain Ian Karkull, Carter and Shiera as well as the other members of the Justice Society were blasted by a strange energy that slowed down their aging process, keeping them young until the end of the 20th century.(!) Hawkman and Hawkgirl continued their adventures until 1951 when they were forced into retirement when the Joint Un-American Activities Committee ordered them to reveal their true identities.(!)
Carter and Shiera had one son, Hector. Hector joined the Infinity Inc. as the Silver Scarab, but he later adopted the identities of Sandman and Doctor Fate as well. He married Lyta Trevor, the daughter of the Golden Age Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. They had a son named Daniel, who is now the Dream of the Endless in Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. Carter and Shiera also had a godson named Norda Cantrell. He was a Human-Feitheran boy who was living with the Feitherans, a bird-like people in Iceland that the Halls visited often. Norda would eventually become Northwind. Shiera was also the cousin of Speed Sanders, the Golden Age adventurer.
|Mike Machlan / Mike Machlan / Greg Capullo|
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Carter and Shiera found themselves on a new Earth. Soon afterward, they were transported to Ragnarok with the other Justice Society members. They would remain there in an endless battle until 1992.(!) In 1992, they were finally able to escape and return to Earth during the Armageddon Inferno event.(!) Soon after, they met Katar Hol II and Shayera Thal of Thanagar in a brief battle. They would meet again in 1994 during the Zero Hour Crisis in Time.(!) During this event, Carter, Shiera, Katar Hol II, and a Hawk god were merged together. This formed a new Katar Hol but Shiera was killed in the process, while only Carter's consciousness remained in Katar. Carter and Shiera's story was not finished, but this ended the continuity of the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
1940: Poseidon gives Hawkman the power to breathe underwater
1940: Hawkman joins the Justice Society
1940: Hawkman becomes the chairman of the Justice Society
1941: Shiera becomes Hawkgirl for the first time
1941: Hawkman learns the bird language
1945: First appearance of The Monocle
1946: First appearance of the Feitherans
1947: First appearance of The Gentleman Ghost
1948: Hawkman wears the Yellow Cowl for the first time
1963: First Justice League-Justice Society crossover
1976: Justice Society returns in All-Star Comics
1978: First appearance of Hawkman's metallic helmet designed by Shiera
1981: Carter helps start the All-Star Squadron
1982: Shiera joins the All-Star Squadron
1986: Carter, Shiera, and the Justice Society trapped in a never-ending Ragnarok
1992: Carter and Shiera return from Asgard
1994: Carter is merged with Katar Hol II and a Hawk god, Shiera is killed
Flash Comics 1940-1949
All-Star Comics 1940-1951
The Big All-American Comic Book 1944
JSA/JLA Crossover 1962-1986
All-Star Comics 1976-1978
Adventure Comics #461-466, 1978-1979
All-Star Squadron 1981-1987
Infinity Inc. 1984-1988
America vs. the Justice Society of America 1985
Last Days of the Justice Society of America 1986
Justice Society of America 1991
Armageddon Inferno 1992
Justice Society of America 1992
Sensation Comics 1999
Thrilling Comics 1999
All-Star Comics 80-page Giant 1999
JSA Strange Adventures 2004-2005
Convergence Justice Society of America 2015
Origin: Katar Hol and Shayera Hol of Thanagar
Katar Hol was born on the planet Thanagar, a utopian-like planet that had not seen any crime for centuries. His father was Paran Katar, a leading scientist and ornithologist. Paran invented wings to be able to fly with more speed and agility. When Katar was 18 years old, the planet was attacked by Man-Hawks, giant Hawk creatures with masks. Patar devised a helmet to help Katar and others defeat them, and this led to the creation of the winged forces of Thanagar. (!) A few years later, Katar was an officer on the winged police force, and he was paired up with a rookie officer named Shayera. They gradually fell in love and Katar proposed to her in front of the Veil of Vallmora, a giant waterfall on Thanagar. (!)
A few years later, a criminal named Byth escaped to Earth, and Katar and Shayera, who were now married, were assigned to capture him and bring him back. Byth was a shapeshifter so Katar figured it would take them a long time to capture him. They went undercover as Carter and Shiera Hall, museum curators for the Midway City Museum. (!) They eventually captured Byth, but Katar was impressed by Earth's police force, so he decided to stay and learn more about their police methods.(!)
They eventually caught the attention of the Justice League and Hawkman joined them in 1964 (!), but Hawkgirl was not invited until 1977 because of their similar powers. (!)
|Justice League of America #31 (November 1964)|
|Justice League of America #109 (Jan-Feb 1974)|
|Convergence Hawkman #2 (July 2015)|
Then in 1989, the Hawkworld series by Tim Truman was released. It was meant to be a darker, retro retelling of the Silver-Bronze Age Hawkman. The 3-issue series was a hit, so Hawkworld Vol. 2 started in 1990. But instead of being placed in the 1960s when the Silver age Hawkman began, it was placed in current times. So now we had two Hawkmen from Thanagar. Sine then, DC Comics has done four things to make it fit. (sorta)
Comics series to find Katar Hol I and Shayera Hol I:
The Brave and the Bold (1961-1982)
Mystery in Space #87-90 (1963-1964)
Hawkman Vol. 1 (1964-1968)
Justice League of America (1964-1984)
The Atom and Hawkman (1968-1969)
Detective Comics (1972-1981)
Showcase #101-103 (1978)
World's Finest Comics (1979-1982)
The Shadow War of Hawkman (1985)
Hawkman Special (1986)
Hawkman Vol. 2 (1986-1987)
Convergence Hawkman (2015)
|From Hawkman Vol. 3 No. 6 (February 1994)|
|Hawkworld Vol. 2 No. 11 (May 1991)|
|Hawkworld Vol. 1 No. 2 (September 1991)|
|Hawkworld Vol. 1 No. 3 (October 1989)|
The two met for the first time when Shayera confronted Katar about his operation. She soon realized that Katar was working to help the sick and helpless aliens. Shayera discovered the truth about Katar and she revealed to him that she was one of the kids he saved during his first mission. Shayera gave a pair of wings to Katar so that he could finally confront Byth. After a massive battle, Byth was able to escape to Earth. Katar was celebrated as a hero on Thanagar and returned to the wingmen with Shayera as his partner. They were given the task of capturing Byth and bringing him back to Thanagar.
|Hawkworld Vol. 1 No. 3 (October 1989)|
|Hawkworld Vol. 2 No. 4 (September 1990)|
|Hawkman Vol. 3 No. 6 (February 1994)|
|Hawkman Vol. 3 No. 12 (August 1994)|
Right after the Hawks were merged, Katar discovered that he was the sole beneficiary of Carter and Shiera Hall’s penthouse in the center of Chicago. He used this as his base for the remainder of the series. Katar’s ability to read other avatars gradually drove him insane. Finally, in order to keep himself from killing others and to avoid going mad, Katar had the Martian Manhunter and Arion use their powers to send him to the Hawk realm. This essentially killed Katar Hol II.
|Hawkman Vol. 3 No. 33 (July 1996)|
|Rann-Thanagar War No. 5 (November 2005)|
Hawkworld Vol. 2 (1990-1993)
Hawkman Vol. 3 (1993-1996)
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time (1994)
Justice League America (1990-1996)