No Need to Wing It: Hawkman Isn’t Even All that Complicated

Among comedian e-book readers, Hawkman is a hero with somewhat little bit of a popularity. Sometimes, he’s an alien. Sometimes, he’s the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince. Others, he seems to be the bodily embodiment of some type of primordial hawk-god. Writers have spent a few years attempting to reconcile the various totally different makes an attempt to “crack” the character of Hawkman. As is inevitably the case, these makes an attempt have a tendency to solely additional complicate the problem. But for Hawkman’s dwell motion cinematic debut in Black Adam, there are just a few belongings you want to know. Namely that Hawkman loves three issues, on this order: flight, historical past and justice.

Two Great Tastes

Of course, greater than any of these, Hawkman’s biggest love is Hawkwoman. Their love is one that goes again to Hawkman’s very first look, in 1939’s Flash Comics #1. Back then, within the Golden Age of superheroes, Hawkman was a standout idea. He had a romantic associate who fought alongside him, for one. But much more outstanding was his potential to fly. Though ubiquitous among the many super-set in the present day, Superman hadn’t but had his preliminary flight when Hawkman first soared by way of the skies. Most of Hawkman’s co-founders within the Justice Society of America had no technique of flight on their very own. Only heroes with magic powers, just like the Spectre, Alan Scott and Thunderbolt, might give themselves the facility to fly and it was merely a consequence of getting each conceivable energy. Hawkman alone was a hero who counted flight as his main energy. (Until Starman, that is, however that wouldn’t be for one more 5 points after the founding of the JSA.)

What was the key of Hawkman’s flight? A cloth referred to as Nth steel (or, as referred to as in its earliest appearances, “ninth metal”), with gravity defying properties. That’s an essential distinction when it comes to Hawkman: it’s that Nth steel harness he wears round his chest which permits him to fly. The connected wings are merely there for steering.

According to Hawkman’s authentic Golden Age origin by co-creator Gardner Fox, Hawkman is archaeologist and museum curator Carter Hall, whose discovery of Nth steel on an archaeological dig awakens him to his previous life: that of the Egyptian Prince Khufu. His associate, Shiera, was in that previous life Prince Khufu’s consort, destined to be with him throughout time in a cycle of reincarnation. Inspired by Khufu’s robust sense of justice, Carter used the Nth steel to vogue his crimefighting persona of Hawkman, avenger of the skies.

It was fairly easy as superhero origin tales go. The reincarnation angle is new, however not too alien an idea for readers to comprehend. But an alien idea is precisely what would outline Hawkman’s future within the Silver Age.

The Than’ Man

In the Sixties, editor Julius Schwartz was wanting to reinvent DC’s steady of heroes with extra up to date, science fiction pushed ideas. The mystical Green Lantern was now a corpsman in an intergalactic union of house cops. The Atom was not a short-statured wrestler, however a scientist who might truly shrink at will. For Hawkman, Schwartz gave Fox one other crack at reinventing his winged hero to match DC’s new route. In a brand new origin instructed in The Brave and the Bold #34, Fox did away with the reincarnation story. This time, Carter Hall was the human disguise of Katar Hal, an alien police officer from the planet Thanagar, a world the place everybody used Nth Metal to grant themselves flight. Katar and his associate, a reimagined Hawkwoman, pursue the Thanagarian prison Byth to Earth, the place they keep and assume human identities as museum curators.

How do you reconcile these two origins? In the Silver Age, you didn’t have to. Like all Golden Age heroes, the reincarnated Prince Khufu was the Hawkman of Earth-Two. The alien Katar Hal was the Hawkman of Earth-One. Two totally different origins, two totally different worlds, two totally different Hawkmen.

Now It Gets Tricky

It’s solely after Crisis on Infinite Earths that Hawkman’s story actually will get difficult, however it’s an issue we’ve since solved. This part is simply right here to tackle the concept of Hawkman being a “confusing” character. If you’d identical to to know what Hawkman’s deal actually is, go forward and skip to the following part.

With the consolidation of Earth-One and Earth-Two into one continuity, there might now solely be one Hawkman. Tim Truman retold Hawkman’s Thanagarian previous for the fashionable period together with his 1989 Hawkworld miniseries, however there was one drawback: Hawkman was already a member of the Justice League of America by the point Hawkworld was printed. So Hawkman’s earlier Justice League adventures have been retroactively ascribed to Hawkman impersonator Fel Andar, a Thanagarian double agent infiltrating Earth below the guise of a hero.

Having two Hawkmen round, each from Thanagar however having left at totally different instances, was deemed a tough idea for readers to get round, so in 1994’s Zero Hour occasion, they…nicely, made it worse by consolidating each Hawkmen right into a form of psychopompous totemic hawk deity. This storyline by no means actually went wherever and is normally solely introduced up when persons are attempting to impress you with how difficult Hawkman is. It does finally get resolved, however when it does, we uncover that the entity wasn’t truly Hawkman in any respect however associated to the hero Hawk of Hawk and Dove. Go forward and disrespect it. (Unless you’re an enormous Hawk fan, I suppose, by which case, go nuts!)

Solving for Hawkman

Later within the ’90s, James Robinson and Geoff Johns revived the traditional Hawkman origin as a part of their wider effort to revitalize the Justice Society as an entire. Katar Hal, the Thanagarian Hawkman, and Carter Hall, the Hawkman of the Golden Age Justice Society and reincarnation of Prince Khufu, co-existed now as separate entities. What Johns added to the Hawkman mythology was the concept that the reincarnation cycle didn’t simply go straight from Khufu to Carter—there have been a bunch of lives that Hawkman lived in between, every with their very own distinctive adventures in each period. The problems with Johns’ 2002 Hawkman sequence which share these tales stay a spotlight of the run.

Johns had half the riddle of Hawkman solved there, together with his love of historical past straight informing his character by way of each period. But it was solely in 2018 that Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch lastly solved the Hawkman riddle—an issue so notorious that even Bat-Mite devoted a full concern of his 2015 sequence to poke enjoyable at it.

In Venditti and Hitch’s Hawkman #1, we’re given a proof of Hawkman’s historical past so miraculously elegant that it’s a surprise nobody ever considered it earlier than. How can Hawkman be each a Thanagarian policeman and an historical Egyptian prince? It’s easy: Hawkman’s reincarnation cycle doesn’t simply happen by way of time, however by way of house.

In a previous life, Carter Hall has been a Thanagarian. He’s additionally been a Rannian, a Kryptonian, even a New God. Most importantly, these lives don’t essentially happen in linear order, that means that Hawkman’s private timeline of lives can go backwards, forwards and even concurrently by way of time as we understand it. The ramifications of this are as monumental as essentially the most imaginative of you may count on, and so they’re totally explored within the sequence’ unforgettable twenty-nine points.

How all of this performs into Black Adam is anyone’s guess, however a minimum of now you’ll be able to say that the place Hawkman comes from and what he’s about. In each life Hawkman’s ever lived, he’s been about three issues: flight, historical past and justice. And on this newest incarnation of his within the DC movie universe, you’re about to witness all of them. Let’s soar.

Black Adam, that includes Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate, hits theaters Friday, October 21. For all the most recent information, options and trailers from the movie, go to our official Black Adam hub.

Alex Jaffe is the writer of our month-to-month “Ask the Question” column and writes about TV, motion pictures, comics and superhero historical past for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and discover him within the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.

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