Monday, February 13, 2012

Hawkman

Hawkman is a fictional superhero who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Dennis Neville, the original Hawkman first appeared in Flash Comics #1, published by All-American Publications in 1940.

Several incarnations of Hawkman have appeared in DC Comics, all of them characterized by the use of archaic weaponry and by large, artificial wings, attached to a harness made from the special Nth metal that allows flight. Most incarnations of Hawkman work closely with a partner/romantic interest named Hawkgirl or Hawkwoman.

Since DC’s continuity was rewritten in the 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hawkman’s history has become muddled with several new versions of the character appearing throughout the years, some associated with ancient Egypt and some with the fictional planet Thanagar. These versions of the character have starred in several series of various durations.

Hawkman first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (1940), and was a featured character in that title throughout the 1940s. This Hawkman was Carter Hall, a reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince, Khufu, who had in the modern day discovered that the mysterious "ninth metal" could negate the effects of gravity and allow him to fly. He donned a costume with large wings to allow him to control his flight and became the crimefighter, Hawkman. An archaeologist by trade, Hall uses ancient weapons from the museum of which he was curator in his efforts.

awkman was a charter member of the Justice Society of America, beginning with All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940). In issue #8 he became the JSA's chairman, a position he would hold until the end of the JSA's run in All Star Comics. He was the only member of the JSA to appear in every adventure during the Golden Age of Comic Books. He romanced his reincarnated bride, Shiera Sanders, who became the crimefighter Hawkgirl. His first three adventures were drawn by creator Dennis Neville (who modeled Hawkman's costume on the hawkmen characters in the Flash Gordon comic strip by Alex Raymond), then by Sheldon Moldoff, and later by Joe Kubert, who slightly redesigned his mask in Flash Comics # 85 (Jul 1947) and then, one year later, replaced the winged-hawk-like mask by a much simpler yellow cowl in Flash Comics #98 (Aug 1948).

Along with most other superheroes, Hawkman's Golden Age adventures came to an end when the industry turned away from the genre in the early 1950s. His last appearance was in All Star Comics #57 (1951).

Later in the decade, DC Comics under editor Julius Schwartz decided to revive a number of heroes in new incarnations, but with the same names and powers. Following the success of the Flash, Hawkman was revived in The Brave and the Bold # 34 (Feb-Mar 1961), this time as an alien policeman from the planet Thanagar, though his powers were largely the same. Created by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert, this Hawkman, Katar Hol, came to Earth with his wife Shayera in pursuit of a criminal, and remained to fight crime on Earth. They adopted the names Carter and Shiera Hall and became curators of a museum in Midway City.

This Hawkman became a member of the Justice League of America, where he often verbally sparred with the iconoclastic liberal hero Green Arrow. In the 1960s it was revealed that the original Hawkman lived on the parallel world of Earth-Two, and that Katar Hol lived on Earth-One. The JLA and JSA had an annual meeting throughout the 1960s and 1970s during which the two heroes often met.

In the days of ancient Egypt, Prince Khufu is engaged in a feud with his rival, the Egyptian priest Hath-Set. The priest eventually captures both Khufu and his consort Chay-Ara, and kills them using a cursed dagger of Nth metal. Millennia later, in 1940, Khufu is reincarnated as American archaeologist Carter Hall, and Chay-Ara as Shiera Saunders. He recognises an evil scientist as the reincarnation of Hath-Set. He kidnaps Shiera using a magic spell to draw her to his lair, but she is rescued by Hawkman, and Anton is electrocuted and killed.

Using the properties of "Nth metal" to craft a gravity-defying belt, Hall creates wings and a costume to become the first Hawkman.

Carter Hall and Shiera Saunders had a son together, named Hector Hall, who grew up to also have a superheroic identity as Silver Scarab and later adopted the mantle of Dr. Fate. Hector Hall was a member of the superhero groups Infinity Inc. and the JSA where he served alongside his father.

In DC's current New 52 universe, it is unknown whether Carter Hall ever existed.

Katar Hol is an honored police officer on his homeworld of Thanagar. Along with his wife Shayera, they use the anti-gravity ninth (also known as Nth) metal and their wings to fight criminals. These were the tools of an elite police unit tasked to track and apprehend the most dangerous criminals. The pair were sent to earth in 1961 to capture the shape-shifting criminal Byth. Following this mission, they elected to remain on Earth to work with authorities in the United States and learn human police methods. The two adopted covers as a pair of museum curators, Carter and Shiera Hall, and acted publicly as the second Hawkman and the second Hawkgirl (later Hawkwoman).

Although initially depicted as surviving the Crisis on Infinite Earths intact, Katar Hol was rebooted just a few years afterwards in a prestige format miniseries named Hawkworld, by Timothy Truman. A regular ongoing series of the same name followed, with writer John Ostrander joining Truman. Katar Hol, a young police officer on the planet Thanagar, rebels against the oppressive system of his planet and is sent into exile. He later escapes and uncovers a renegade police captain Byth. As a result, he is reinstated into the force, given a new partner, Shayera Thal, and sent on a mission on Earth, where he is the third Hawkman.

In DC's New 52 universe, a rebooted Katar Hol is Earth's Hawkman once again.

Late in the 1980s, Thanagarian spy Fel Andar — who had been living on Earth for some time already — was ordered by the Thanagarian army to infiltrate the Justice League as the second Hawkman.

When Grant Morrison revived the JLA comic book in 1997, he expanded the roster to include over a dozen heroes. With frequent collaborator Mark Millar, he intended to create a new Hawkman with no links to the old characters. This new Hawkman, an Earth-bound angel of the "Eagle host" named Zauriel, was to be introduced into the JLA with issue #6 (June 1997). Morrison was denied permission to use the name "Hawkman" by DC editorial, which still considered it "radioactive", due to the complex post-Crisis continuity problems with the character.

In the Wizard JLA Special, Morrison made an appeal to the fanbase, "It's a good name and it seems a shame to let it go to waste. We're hoping that fans will figure 'For God's sake, let's just call him Hawkman and get him in the Justice League as Hawkman,' and the editors will relent. We're hoping to start a campaign." DC held firm, and the "Hawkman" name went unused for several more years.

Originally the Teen Titans member called Golden Eagle, Charley Parker was presumed deceased after an attack by the Wildebeest Society during the event known as Titans Hunt. He was later revealed to be alive in the fourth volume of Hawkman and went on to assist the Carter Hall Hawkman for some time. When Carter Hall seemingly perished, Charley Parker took on the mantle and became the fourth Hawkman, and revealed himself as the son of Carter Hall. In fact, he was actually the son of Fel Andar, and had been responsible for Carter's troubles and his apparent demise. Carter Hall eventually defeated the Golden Eagle, and their vendetta would later be dropped, and Carter Hall reclaimed his mantle.

All incarnations of Hawkman used the fictional "ninth metal" or "Nth metal" to defy gravity and allow them to fly. The metal is in their costume's belt, boots, and wings. Its abilities are controlled mentally. Their wings allow them to control their flight, though they can be "flapped" through use of shoulder motions. In most comic books he is known to have slightly enhanced physical strength.

The Golden Age Hawkman was also gifted by the sea god Poseidon with the ability to breathe underwater. He also discovered a hidden kingdom of sentient birds led by the old One-Eye, who taught him their language and later sacrificed himself to save the Hawkman's life. Among the leading birds was a hawk named Big Red.

The Silver Age Hawkman also had enhanced senses comparable (it was said) to a hawk's. He (and, sometimes, the Golden Age Hawkman) was also able to converse with birds, though he couldn't command them in the same way that Aquaman could command sea creatures.

The Silver Age Hawkman also possessed a Thanagarian police space ship and a variety of science fictional weapons.

All versions of Hawkman preferred to use archaic weaponry - particularly maces, nets, spears, and shields - rather than modern or futuristic weapons. The current incarnation prefers this in part because, having the memories of living through many past lives, he is more proficient in their use than with contemporary weapons. In Katar Hol's case, it was too dangerous to use Thanagarian weaponry since there was too great a chance they could be lost or captured and then used or duplicated on Earth. There is, however, one significantly unique weapon Carter employs occasionally: the Claw of Horus. Constructed of Nth metal by Prince Khufu in ancient Egypt, it was delivered to the newly resurrected Carter Hall by the time-displaced Jay Garrick in JSA Book 3: "The Return of Hawkman". Later, in Superman-Batman Book 1: "Public Enemies", Hawkman used it to defeat Superman, using its Nth metal to channel the Earth's gravitational field. As he explained to Superman, "Essentially, I just hit you with the planet."

All versions of Hawkman have shown enhanced levels of strength. The Golden Age Hawkman was said to have the strength of 12 men but later that idea was dropped. Whereas the Golden Age Hawkman's strength appeared natural, it was later explained (with The Silver Age Hawkman) that the Nth metal enables its wielders to carry great weights. The recent incarnation has interpreted this as the Nth metal simply enhancing the strength of the user. Also, several JLA and JSA stories indicate that Thanagar has greater gravity than Earth, and that Thanagarians are naturally stronger than humans because they are adapted to it, similarly to how Atlanteans (i.e. Aquaman) are adapted to deep sea pressures.

It has also been explained in the JSA series that the Nth metal greatly aids in healing, closing wounds almost instantaneously. One example is in the JLA story "Crisis of Conscience," in issues 115-118. Carter has his arm nearly severed during one part of the issue, but the wound has obviously closed and functionality returned by the end of the issue. The Atom has commented that Hawkman laughs at anything less than third-degree burns.

The Nth metal also regulates the body temperature of the wearer, preventing the need for heavy protective clothing while in high altitudes. It also has the property of radiating heat, which can be controlled to warm the wearer in colder climates

No comments:

Post a Comment