Putting Hawkman Back Together Again

By Tim Board (Hawkworld Facebook /Twitter)

Art by Neal Adams

“Hawkman’s story is a mess!” You hear it all the time. Hawkman has one of the most confusing and messed up back stories of any superhero out there. Or so they say. Being a Hawkman fan for 40 years, I’ve always tried to read and keep up with Hawkman. I’ll admit there have been some baffling decisions by the writers over the years, but I’ve always thought there was some way to put Hawkman back together again. In this article, I want to share how I have figured out my own continuity theory. It’s not perfect, it needs some creative imagination at times, but this is my own personal theory of how Hawkman could work. This article will follow Hawkman from the 1930s all the way up to now. If you’re interested in what the heck is going on with the Winged Warriors, read on.

We all know about how the Thanagarian space ship crashed in the Egyptian dessert over 3000 years ago, triggering the whole saga. Sometime during the 19th Dynasty (1292–1189 B.C.), Prince Khufu discovered the Thanagarian ship and came in possession of the Nth metal. His priest Hath-Set used a knife made from the Nth metal to murder Khufu and his lover Chay-ara. This set in motion the never-ending cycle of reincarnation.

JSA #22; Geoff Johns, David S. Goyer (Writers), Rags Morales, Michael Bair (Artists)

Khufu and Chay-ara continued their battle with Hath-Set through the centuries and finally was born as Carter Hall in the early 20th century. But before we start Carter’s story, we have to look at Paran Katar. Paran is the Thanagarian father of the modern age Hawkman and the founder of the Wingmen, the police force of Thanagar. In the mid-1930s, Paran Katar traveled from Thanagar to Earth for two reasons; one reason was to scout Earth for a future invasion and the other reason was to check on the Thanagarian ship that had crash-landed in Egypt thousands of years ago. During his search, Paran met Carter Hall, an archaeologist who had discovered the Nth metal. Although Carter knew the metal had some kind of special powers, he was not successful into making it work for him. Paran revealed who he was to Carter and the two began a long friendship. Carter gave Paran the Earth name Perry Carter and advised him when Paran fell in love with a Cherokee woman named Naomi. Paran showed Carter how to make the metal work and the ideas for Hawkman and the Thanagarian wingmen were born there. (Hawkworld Vol. 2 Annual No. 1)

Hawkworld Vol. 2 Annual #1: John Ostrander (writer), Gary Kwapisz (artist)

After extended exposure to the Nth metal, Carter began to remember his former life as an Egyptian Prince. He also was able to remember his love from former lives when he ran into Shiera Saunders. By meeting, both of them remembered their past lives and what they meant to each other. They began work together as archaeologists and their work would eventually attract Paran as well as Hath-Set. Hath-Set kidnapped Shiera to extend his immortal life through the use of the Nth metal. Hawkman disguised himself as the Egyptian Hawk-God Horus and used the Nth metal to fly and face Hath-Set. Hawkman was able to defeat his enemy and began his career as the superhero.

Flash Comics #1; Gardner Fox (Writer), Dennis Neville (Artist)

Hawkman started his career and was also a charter member of the Justice Society of America. Hawkman was totally committed to the group and was the only member who took part in every Justice Society adventure during the Golden Age. Hawkgirl followed in his footsteps as a super-heroine soon after. During a fight with the magician Ian Karkull, they were bathed in a light that gave the JSA heroes extended youth (All-Star Squadron Annual No. 3). This will come into play later.

All-Star Squadron Annual #3; Dan Thomas, Roy Thomas (Writers), Various Artists

Hawkman and Hawkgirl continued their careers until 1953, when the Justice Society was forced to disband to avoid revealing their secret identities to the public. (Adventure Comics No. 466)

Adventure Comics #466; Paul Levitz (Writer), Joe Staton (Artist)

This is where my own personal theory comes in. What happened to Carter and Shiera during the rest of the 50s? With the disbanding of the Justice Society, Carter and Shiera considered what to do next. At the same time, Paran Katar decided to return to Thanagar with his bride, a Cherokee Indian woman named Naomi Carter. He invited Carter and Shiera to come with him to work on the Nth metal and form a new police force on Thanagar. The two heroes accepted and they moved to the distant planet. To protect them on Thanagar, Paran gave them new identities, Katar and Shayera Hol. Katar and Shayera joined the new police force and became wingmen of Thanagar. The Thanagarians had a device called the Absorbascon. This device would allow the user to learn everything he would need to know about the planet. The device was made only for Thanagarians, so in order to assist Carter-Katar and Shiera-Shayera with their new life on Thanagar, Paran figured out a way to use the Nth metal to help them be able to safely use the device. With the protection of the Nth metal, they were able to quickly download the planet’s language, customs and history. During the 50s, they may have returned to Earth for short visits at times but they saw a chance to become something greater and spent most of the decade on Thanagar. Because of the effect of Karkull’s magic, they were in their 40s but looked younger. This fit right in with the Thanagarians as it has been said that the Thanagarians’ life span is three times longer than that of a human. So for example, a 100-year-old Thanagarian would look to be a 30-year-old human. 
The reason for this theory is to save the Silver and Bronze Age stories from being wiped away just for continuity’s sake. The Silver Age stories are too valuable in the story of Hawkman to just throw out. Maybe the use of the Absorbascon was too great on Carter and Shiera and it caused them to forget their true identities for a while. Returning to Earth may have triggered those memories to return. This would be an amazing story for a future Hawkman series to cover. It definitely needs some tweaking, but it saves the legend of Hawkman. This is just one theory, but it’s fun to think about.

Invasion #1; Keith Ian Giffen, Bill Mantlo (Writers), Various Artists

While Paran was on earth, he met a Cherokee woman who assisted Carter and Shiera in their archaeological digs. They fell in love and were married. When it came time to return to Thanagar, Paran took his new bride with him. Thanagar looked down on outsiders so he told everyone she was Thanagarian and tried to get her to adjust to her new life. But the social injustices were worse on Thanagar than on Earth. Naomi tried to help the needy and often got into arguments about it with Paran. She was thinking of returning to Earth when she became pregnant. In 1959, Naomi had a son and tried to take him back to Earth, but Paran took the child and sent Naomi back to Earth alone. (Hawkman Vol. 3 No. 6) It’s possible Katar and Shayera assisted Naomi as much as they could, and this incident caused a serious rift in the friendship between the Hols and Paran, finally causing them to break off their friendship with him. After her return to Earth, Naomi became a teacher and medicine woman. When her son Katar Hol came to Earth and became Hawkman, she helped him in his adventures but finally had to watch as he was sent into the Hawk realm to save him from his own insanity. The year 1996 is the last time we have seen her.

Hawkworld Vol. 2 Annual #1; John Ostrander (Writer), Gary Kwapisz (Artist)

The criminal Byth, who becomes a shape-shifter after stealing a formula, escapes to Earth. By this time, Katar has become one of the best combatants on Thanagar, as well as an expert in weapons, while Shayera has become one of the best engineers and an expert in Thanagarian technology. They volunteer for the mission to go to Earth and capture Byth. When they return, they meet with Midway City police commissioner George Emmett. They tell him of their situation and he offers his help. With Carter and Shiera’s background as archaeologists, Emmett easily sets them up as curators of the Midway City museum, to take the place of his brother who is retiring. The mission to capture Byth is successful and the Hols decide to stay on Earth and continue their work as superheroes. (The Brave and the Bold No. 34)

The Brave and the Bold #34; Gardner Fox (Writer), Joe Kubert (Artist)

The newly formed Justice League of America asks Hawkman to join them. The Atom and Wonder Woman know the secrets of Hawkman’s background and they ask him to come on as an adviser since he has experience with the Justice Society. The Justice Society also eventually reunites and he and Hawkgirl join in with their old teammates when they can. (Hawkworld Vol. 2 Annual No. 1)

Hawkworld Vol. 2 Annual #1; John Ostrander (Writer), Gary Kwapisz (Artist)

During a mission with Justice Society in 1986, Hawkman and Hawkgirl were trapped with the other older members in Ragnarok, to fight as Norse gods for all eternity. This would continue until 1991. (Last Days of the Justice Society of America)

The Last Days of the Justice Society Special; Dann Thomas and Roy Thomas (Writers), David Ross (Artist)

With the true Hawkman and Hawkgirl gone, Thanagar saw an opportunity and ordered its spy on Earth, Fel Andar, to take Hawkman’s place. During his time on Earth, Fel had married a woman named Sharon Parker. They had a son named Charlie who would go on to become the Golden Eagle in later years. When he received his orders, he brainwashed Sharon into thinking she was Hawkgirl, claimed to be Carter Hall Jr., and together they infiltrated the Justice League for a few years.

Justice League International #10; J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Ian Griffen (Writers), Griffen and Kevin Maguire (Artists)

Back on Thanagar, Paran Katar’s son finally came of age and joined the wingmen. Katar Hol requested to be assigned to the Downside and discovered the cruel conditions of Thanagarian society. He was tricked by Byth, the son of the original Byth, into killing his own father, Paran. Katar was found guilty and sent to the Isle of Chance to serve his sentence. (Hawkworld Vol. 1 No 2)

Hawkworld Vol. 1 #2; Timothy Truman (Writer and Artist)

After escaping the island prison, Katar worked to help the Downsiders and he met a new police officer, Shayera Thal. They finally teamed up together and confronted Byth, whose shape-shifting powers had grown grotesquely from all the drugs he had been taking. Byth escaped and followed his father’s path to Earth (Hawkworld Vol. 1 No. 3). Katar and Shayera were assigned to capture him and they arrived on Earth. They struggled to adjust to the laws and rules that are much different. They gradually were accepted by the Chicago police and the other superheroes. At about the same time, Sharon Parker discovered the truth about Fel Andar and herself and was killed by Fel when she tried to escape and warn the Justice League. She got the truth to Martian Manhunter before she died. Fel escaped Earth and returned to Thanagar. (Hawkworld Vol. 2 No. 23)

Hawkworld Vol. 2 #23; John Ostrander (Writer), Graham Nolan (Artist)

To make matters even more challenging, Carter and Shiera Hall finally returned to Earth with the other Justice Society members during the Armageddon: Inferno event. Now we had two sets of Hawks. When Thanagar demanded Earth to capture and return Katar and Shayera as traitors, the Chicago police enlisted Carter and Shiera to help track them down. The four Hawks battled for a bit but Katar eventually convinced Carter that they had been set up. In the end, Carter acknowledged Katar as worthy of the name Hawkman. (Hawkworld Vol. 2 No. 29)

Hawkworld Vol. 2 #29; John Ostrander (Writer), Jan Duursema (Artist)

For the next couple of years, Katar and Shayera continued to make a place for themselves in America. Katar is reunited with his mother, Naomi Carter. With the help of her visions, he found out how he is a Hawk-Avatar. A Hawk-god appears during Zero Hour: Crisis in Time and Katar is joined by Carter and Shiera to battle the god. A cosmic wave suddenly blasts through them and the four of them are fused into one Hawkman. Carter and Shiera are killed, while Katar is alive but with new powers, thanks to the Hawk-god. He now has super-Hawk senses and his wings come out of his back when he needs them. (Zero Hour: Crisis in Time No. 3)

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #3; Dan Jurgens (Writer), Jurgens and Jerry Ordway (Artists)

Things went downhill from there. For the next two years, Katar was increasingly tormented by the Hawk-avatar in him. It appeared that he was slowly going insane and finally, with the help of the Martian Manhunter and Arion, he was sent into the Hawk realm for good. Shayera moved to Detroit but for the next three years, Hawkman was completely wiped out from the comics.

After three years, in 1999, the first to return was Hawkgirl. And it is a doozey of a story. Kendra Saunders was a 19-year-old granddaughter of Speed Saunders, the brother of Shiera Saunder. After her parents were murdered, she became pretty messed up. She tried committing suicide and had a baby when she was 16. After giving the baby up for adoption, she tried to kill herself again. In the craziest twist in Hawk history, we found out later that she was successful. When she starts remembering Carter and some other things from the past, Zauriel shows up and tell her that Kendra is actually dead, and that Shiera Saunders took over her body when Kendra committed suicide. (JSA No. 22)

JSA #22; Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer (Writers), Rags Morales and Michael Bair (Artists)

So the whole “who am I” back and forth with Kendra started and never really let up until the Blackest Night event. Right after Kendra/Shiera found out the truth, she was teleported away to Thanagar. Thanagar was under attack by Onimar Synn and to save the planet, the priest of the seven gods brought Hawkgirl to them to help them find Hawkman. Ever since being sent into the Hawk realm, Hawkman had apparently been in the Well of Spirits, looking for a way to return. The priests asked Hawkgirl to act as “a beacon” so Hawkman could find his way out. Hawkgirl reached into the mist and Hawkman took her hand and came back to life. (JSA No. 23)

JSA #23; Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer (Writers), Stephen Sadowski (Artist)

The Hawkman that emerged from the Well of Spirits was a combination of Carter Hall and Katar Hol. He had the physiology of a 26-year-old, brown hair instead of blond or black, and considered himself Carter with the memories of Katar as well. And he recognized Hawkgirl as Shiera but Hawkgirl asks him to call her Kendra. It’s the beginning of the “It’s destiny for us to be together” by Hawkman, and Hawkgirl’s “I-control-my-own-destiny!” So the New Earth version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl were finally together. For about eight years.

Shayera Thal has one of the most interesting stories in all of Hawk history so we need to take look at her for a moment. She was born to Andar Pul (Administrator of Protection) and Shayera Thal I in the High Towers of Thanagar, but her mother was only about 13 at the time, so to avoid scandal, she was abandoned in the Downside of Thanagar (basically the slums) by her mother soon after she was born. During Katar Hol’s first mission to the Downside, he unknowingly killed her guardian and she was sent to an orphanage. After a while, her mother was killed in a suicide bombing so her grandfather Thal Provis came back for Shayera and took her to the High Towers and named her after her mother. Interesting family trivia here, but her grandmother was Hyanthis and her cousin was Fel Andar. Several years later, Katar would meet Shayera in the Downside. Shayera had become a wingman and threatened to take Katar in, but she became sympathetic to his mission and assisted him in bringing down Byth. After he escaped to Earth, they were assigned to follow him to Earth and capture him. After they completed their mission, they remained on Earth, fighting crime with the Chicago police force and the Justice League. They eventually fell in love but that all changed when Katar bonded with the Hawk-god, Carter and Shiera. Katar was a different man after that and ended their relationship. After Katar was sent into the Hawk realm to save him from his insanity, Shayera retired as a superhero and went to work for the Detroit police force. After the New Earth Hawkman and Hawkgirl came on the scene, she met them in St. Roch to defeat Byth once again. (Hawkman Vol. 4 No. 15–17)

Hawkman Vol. 4 #15; Geoff Johns (Writer), Rags Morales (Artist)

After capturing Byth, she took him back to Thanagar. Back on her home planet, she joined the Thanagarian Army and fought during the Rann-Thanagar War in 2005. During the battle, she was betrayed and killed by Komand’r, the sister of Starfire. A sad ending for a Hawkwoman who led a hard life but loved Katar until the very end. (Rann-Thanagar War No. 5)

Rann-Thanagar War #5; Dave Gibbons (Writer), Joe Bennett, Joe Prado, Ivan Reis (Artists)

From 2002–2011, the Hawks settled in at the Stonechat Museum in St. Roch, Louisiana. They tracked down Kendra’s parents’ murderer, took part in Justice League and Justice Society adventures and continued to flop around on what their relationship actually was. The Rann-Thanagar War breaks out in 2005, and the Hawks are recruited by Adam Strange to join in the fight. 
After the war, Hawkman is asked to help out on Thanagar so he accepts, leaving Hawkgirl alone in St. Roch (2006). During one of Hawkman’s returns to Earth, they are attacked and killed by Ralph Digby (Elongated Man) and his wife Sue. (Blackest Night No. 1, 2009)

Blackest Night #1; Geoff Johns (Writer), Ivan Reis (Artist)

During the Blackest Night story, it was revealed that the bones of Prince Khufu and Chay-ara, Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s first lives, were taken from Earth by the Zamarons and placed in their violet power battery. The love of Khufu and Chay-ara was so strong, it was a power source for the Zamaron’s power battery. (Green Lanterns Corps No. 29)

Green Lantern #46; Geoff Johns (Writer), Doug Mahnke (Artist)

At the end of Blackest Night, the dead heroes were brought back to life. When Hawkgirl took off her helmet, she was no longer Kendra, but Shiera. So just like that, Kendra Saunders was gone, soul and body. Sixteen years after Zero Hour, Carter was finally back with his soulmate. But that didn’t last for long.

Blackest Night #8; Geoff Johns (Writer), Ivan Reis (Artist)

Just one month later, the Brightest Day story began. Hawkman and Hawkgirl tracked Queen Shrike and Hath-set to finally break the reincarnation curse. Hawkgirl snapped Hath-Set’s neck, killing him and finally breaking the curse. After their fight with Queen Shrike on Zamaron, they were transported back to St. Roch. They were finally back together and free of the curse but these two just have no luck. The White Lantern Entity showed up and blasted them to dust. Just like that. Dead again. (Brightest Day No. 18)

Brightest Day #18, Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi (Writers), Ivan Reis, Joe Prodo, Scott Clark, Ardian Syaf (Artists)

Later on in the story, Hawkman and Hawkgirl were transformed into Air Elementals. At the end, Hawkman was brought back to his normal self but for whatever reason, Hawkgirl was left as an elemental. This was the last time we see Carter and Shiera together in continuity for over six years. At the end of Brightest Day, Carter was back in St. Roch, languishing over the loss of Shiera.

Brightest Day #24; Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi (Writers), Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Pat Gleason, others (Artists)

OK, from here on, take it or leave it. The New 52 Hawkman seemingly has no connection to the New Earth Hawkman, but let’s try to showhorn this in anyways. You have to do that often to make Hawkman work anyway. 
Seven months after the end of Brightest Day, Carter had moved to New York and was working as a cryptologist. He appeared to be thoroughly disgusted with everything about Hawkman. He went out to a remote area and tried to burn his costume, wings and the Nth metal. The metal suddenly leaped out of the fire and bonded with him. The Nth metal was now a part of him. His armour, weapons and wings appeared whenever he needed him. (The Savage Hawkman No. 1)

The Savage Hawkman #1; Tony Daniel (Writer), Philip S. Tan (Artist)

Throughout the series, Hawkman tried to come to terms with what he was. He eventually started a somewhat reluctant relationship with Emma Ziegler, his boss’ daughter. He never once mentioned Shiera. During the middle of the series, he appeared to meet Shayera and other Thanagarians. However the whole Thanagarian story line lasted only five issues (The Savage Hawkman No. 12–16). The whole episode seemed to be an Nth-metal-induced dream. Shayera was blond, the entire Thanagarian race was more glamorous and eccentric than ever seen before, and a zombie-like emperor showed up at the end. After the episode, Carter struggles with the visions he had of Thanagar and Shayera, but goes back to trying to figure out what he is and how to control the Nth metal.

The Savage Hawkman #0; Rob Liefeld, Mark Poulton (Writers), Joe Bennett (Artist)

Towards the end of the Savage series, Hawkman was recruited by Amada Waller for the new Justice League of America. The series was short-lived, lasting a couple of years before the group broke apart. Hawkman was then involved with the Justice League United but was killed off pretty quick when he saved everyone from Byth’s bomb. (Justice League United No. 3) His body was then stolen and he was brought back as a mindless slave to Byth before he was brought back to his senses. He returns to Thanagar to help save the planet before it is sucked into a black hole. The planet is saved and Hawkman settles on his home way from home. (Justice League United No. 10)

Justice League United #3; Jeff Lemire (Writer), Mike McKone (Artist)

Hawkman returns to Thanagar and he joined the police force. But mentally he was still a mess. The loss of Shiera and the Nth metal bonding with his body, not to mention having his arm chopped off by Lobo (it grew back), being killed by Byth’s bomb, coming back to life but as a mindless slave was all causing him to often lose control. He was too violent in his treatment of criminals and always being reprimanded by the new police commissioner. (Death of Hawkman No. 2)

Death of Hawkman #2; Marc Andreyko (Writer), Aaron Lopresti (Artist)

Despero tricked Rann and Thanagar into another war while he attempted to take all the Nth metal for himself. With the help of Adam Strange, Hawkwman was able to stop Despero by shooting all of the Nth metal out of his body and killing Despero. The Zeta Beam portal exploded and Hawkman and Despero’s remains are sent to to the edge of the universe. However, Despero comes back to life and shatters Hawkman’s bones. (Death of Hawkman No. 6)

Death of Hawkman #6; Marc Andreyko (Writer), Aaron Lopresti (Artist)

And this brings us up to date on Hawkman’s continuity. Carter and Shiera’s time spent on Thanagar during the 50s, and the entire story line of Thanagar in The Savage Hawkman series were the two major changes I made for it to all fit together. There are still some loose ends but considering where we were before, I think all the stories we have been given of Hawkman over the years fit pretty well together. The history of Hawkman, the family relationships, the villains, the team memberships, and the Hawks’ power set make Hawkman and Hawkgirl two of the most fascinating and interesting characters in comics today. With the Metal even coming up, it will be interesting to how DC Comics has decided to move forward with the Winged Warriors. Here’s hoping for a story that builds on the legend of Hawkman.

Death of Hawkman #6
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