On the surface, Hawkman and Hawkgirl might seem like the most redundant superheroes of all time. They both possesses the power of flight... and that's it. While that might be cool for someone who is just a regular person, it becomes a lot less sexy when you are in a team with people like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.
There is a lot more to both characters than just a pair of wings, however. Their shared history dates back over seventy years, with numerous incarnations of wildly different origins. Hawkman has been a major player in DC Comics for a long time now. When the DC Animated Universe arrived, Hawkgirl would step out of her husband's shadow, and go on to become one of the most important figures in the Justice League of America.
With their appearance as cast members on Legends of Tomorrow cementing their mainstream status, it is time to look further into the winged warriors of Thanagar. From their ever-changing origins, to the time Hawkgirl took down one of H.P. Lovecraft's Great Old Ones. Here are 15 Things You Didn't Know About Hawkgirl And Hawkman.
Both Hawkman and Hawkgirl would make their first appearance in Flash Comics #1, released way back in 1940. The original Hawkman was an archaeologist named Carter Hall, and Hawkgirl was his associate, Shiera Sanders. Carter and Shiera discovered that they were both originally from ancient Egypt, and had been reincarnated many times over the centuries.
Carter Hall was originally Prince Khufu of Egypt. He discovered an alien spaceship from the planet Thanagar, powered by a mysterious substance known as Nth Metal. The energy from the Nth Metal changed the souls of Khufu, and his lover, Chay-Ara, allowing them to be reborn over and over again. When the two meet in their next life, the memories of the previous lives would be restored.
Due to the sheer amount of times Carter/Shiera have been reincarnated, they possess the knowledge of multiple lifetimes worth of study. While they have no physical powers per-say, they does possess several Nth Metal items that allow them to act as a superheros. Their belt, boots, and wings allow them to defy gravity, and gives them peerless control over flight. The Nth Metal also grants them enhanced strength, vision, and a healing factor.
After twenty years of publication, and rebooting several of their biggest characters, DC Comics decided to create a multiverse. In The Flash #123, it is first established that there are two Earths. Earth One contained the current DC roster, while Earth Two carried the older characters that were no longer in publication. Earth Two was home to the Justice Society of America, and the earlier versions of famous characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Earth Two also contained the original Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
Earth One also had a Hawkman and Hawkgirl, but they were very different to their predecessors.
Katar Hol and Shayera Hol were the Hawkman and Hawkwoman of Earth One. They were two married police officers from the planet Thanagar. After tracking a shape-shifting criminal to Earth, the two decide to stay, in order to learn about Earth's policing methods. The two would go on to join the Justice League of America.
Like most things after "Crisis on Infinite Earths", Earth One and Two were wiped from existence. They were replaced with a new world that cherry-picked elements from both of them.
When the Justice League cartoon was created, Hawkgirl was announced as one of the seven members of the team. This seemed like an odd choice to many fans. While Batman and Superman were the only real certainties (the show was a spin-off of their respective animated series after all), the rest of the line-up was open to almost any character available at the time. Even if the thinking was "we need another woman in the Justice League" (as Wonder Woman was also on the team), there are lots of other famous characters they could have used. Black Canary, Zatanna, Power Girl, or Mary Marvel would have made excellent additions to the team.
It seems that the writers had long-term plans for Hawkgirl, as it would be revealed that she was betraying the Justice League all along.
In the three part episode, "Starcrossed", Earth is invaded by the Thanagarians. Due to the knowledge leaked by Hawkgirl, the Thanagarians know all of the Justice League's weakpoints, and are able to take them down accordingly. Hawkgirl would later regret her actions, and would be a key player in forcing the Thanagarians to retreat.
She would leave the Justice League, but would return once she had proven that she was trustworthy again, during the events of Justice League Unlimited.
The Green Lantern Corps used to be the only intergalactic force that used Oan technology to create powerful rings. This all changed with the "Sinestro Corps War" event. The former Green Lantern, Sinestro, discovered how to make his own Power Battery and rings. He created the Sinestro Corps, an intergalactic force that wanted to rule the universe. The yellow Sinestro rings would choose their owners, by finding the people in the universe who spread the most fear (one of the rings originally went to Batman, who refused it).
After the war between the Green Lanterns and the Sinestro Corps ended, five other Corps emerged. The Red Lanterns of Rage, the Orange Lanterns of Greed, the Indigo Lanterns of Compassion, the Violet Lanterns of Love, and the Blue Lanterns of Hope. A huge war broke out between all of the factions, leading to the rise of the Black Lanterns, whose rings would awaken the dead.
During the first issue of the "Blackest Night" event, Hawkman and Hawkgirl are murdered by Black Lantern versions of the Elongated Man and his wife, Sue Dibny. The two of them would be resurrected as Black Lanterns, and would join the forces of evil.
At the end of the event, the two are resurrected as White Lanterns, and are restored to their normal selves.
"Identity Crisis" is one of the most polarising miniseries ever produced by DC. Some fans credit it with establishing a more serious status quo for the universe, and for setting the ground for more adult stories to be told in the main line of comics. A lot of fans discredit the series, for not only retroactively making some of the established heroes perform villainous actions, but for its flippant use of sexual assault as a plot device.
During the events of "Identity Crisis", Sue Dibny (the wife of Elongated Man, and honorary member of the Justice League), is murdered by an unknown assailant. It is revealed that years before, the Teen Titan's villain, Doctor Light, had broken into the Justice League's headquarters. He raped Sue Dibny, before being accosted by the Justice League.
A discussion is held about what they should do with Doctor Light. Hawkman asks Zatanna if it is possible to use her magic to wipe his memories, and alter his personality. An argument breaks out between the group, leading Green Arrow to strike Hawkman (an act which is established as being the source of their enmity). After holding a vote, they go with Hawkman's plan, and wipe Doctor Light's memory.
In 1997, a commercial for Baby Ruth candy bars was created that starred Hawkman. This wasn't a knock-off or an expy of him either, this was an official licencing of the character.
In the advert, Hawkman is presented as something of an idiot. He needs Baby Ruth candy bars to give him energy, because chocolate somehow enhances his super-strength. Hawkman also claims that his eyesight isn't what it used to be, and that Baby Ruth was fixing it (this would make sense if Baby Ruth bars contained carrot, but they don't).
The use of Hawkman in the commercial was a bizarre decision on behalf of Nestlé. Superheroes on the screen weren't exactly a big hit in the late nineties. This advert was broadcast around the same time that Batman & Robin killed the superhero genre, and X-Men would not revive it for another four years. Hawkman was also not a well-known character at the time, and most people in the audience probably didn't even realise he was an official DC character.
After his highly acclaimed run on Animal Man had finished, Grant Morrison was in high demand as a comic writer. In 1996, he was given the chance to revamp the Justice League of America, after the International version of the team had ended its run. He created JLA, a series that would return the Justice League to their roots, and make them the most powerful team in the DC universe once more.
One of the new characters introduced during this run was Zauriel, an angel who willingly fell to Earth in order to become a superhero. Zauriel knew that a second rebellion was about to happen in Heaven, and that he needed to warn the mortals about the upcoming conflict. Zauriel would join the Justice League, and would remain an important character for the rest of Morrison's run.
Zauriel was not always intended to join the team, however. Originally, Grant Morrison wanted to use Hawkman as a member of the Justice League. He was refused by the higher ups at DC, as Hawkman's continuity was too messed up at the time. A blanket ban had been placed on his use throughout the DC universe, forcing Morrison to create a new winged hero to take his place.
The Justice League of America was created during the Silver Age of comic books. They were the combined force of DC's biggest heroes at the time. When Starro the Conqueror came to take over the Earth, it took a team consisting of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman to take him down.
Starro's invasion happened in The Brave and the Bold #28, which was released in 1960. Since then, the Justice League have appeared in many different forms, with over a hundred different heroes claiming membership at once point or another. After the initial lineup was formed, three more members would join the team over the course of the next four years. Green Arrow, The Atom, and Hawkman would all become part of the Justice League.
So what about Hawkgirl? She was Hawkman's wife and partner at the time. Didn't she apply for the team as well?
She did, but she was refused entry due to a Justice League rule (that had never been mentioned up until that point). The rule stated that the Justice League could only take one new member at a time, and they chose Hawkman over his wife.
Hawkgirl would eventually be allowed to join the Justice League in 1977, around 13 years after her husband became a member.
When Justice League debuted in 2001, the team had a set roster of seven members. The initial lineup was Superman, Batman, the Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Hawkgirl.
Compared to the rest of her teammates, Hawkgirl initially seemed weaker in the powers department. During their first adventures, all Hawkgirl could do was swing a mace and fly (something that everyone else in the team could do except for Flash and Batman, and he owns numerous flying vehicles). Her Nth Metal mace was made out to be a powerful weapon, one that could also conduct electricity. The mace still seemed a poor substitute compared to super-strength, super-speed, or the ring of a Green Lantern.
As the series progressed, the writers made an effort to make Hawkgirl more of an asset to the team. It was established that the Nth Metal mace protected her from magic (one of Superman's biggest weaknesses). She was also shown to be one of the most deadly hand-to-hand fighters on the team, after beating four Green Lanterns in combat.
The writers really pushed for Hawkgirl when it was revealed that she had beaten Batman at chess on numerous occasions. Hawkgirl was established as the best tactical thinker on the team, even better than the Dark Knight himself.
A lot of fans credit the creation of the modern DC Comic's universe with Jeph Loeb's Superman/Batman series from 2004. The series brought back the classic Supergirl (something fans had been asking for), and set the stage for later events such as "Identity Crisis" and "Infinite Crisis".
During the first story arc of the series, Lex Luthor is the president of the United States of America. After a Kryptonite asteroid is spotted heading for Earth, Luthor claims that it is part of an evil plot by Superman and Batman. President Luthor puts a one billion dollar bounty on their heads, an act which encourages most of the heroes and villains of the DC universe to go after Superman and Batman.
The first people to get their shot at the team are Captain Marvel and Hawkman. During the battle, Batman & Superman swap opponents. Little did they realize that they were falling into a trap. Hawkman had intended to battle Superman all along. After pursuing him high into the sky, Hawkman uses a Thanagarian weapon called "The Claw of Horus" to take out Superman with one punch. The Claw utilises the gravity of Earth, so Hawkman knocks out Superman with the same force as being hit by a planet.
Most DC characters have long and convoluted histories. This is mainly because DC have rebooted their universe many times over the years. This had led to numerous iterations of the same character, that use some (but not all) elements of the older versions. Researching any of these characters can be a daunting and difficult task.
No one has it worse than Hawkman in this regard. At one point, DC banned his use because his backstory had gotten too ridiculous.
A lot of the problems stem from the fact that they had different versions of Hawkman running around at the same time. If they had kept one per-reboot, then everything would have been fine. As it was, you had the reincarnated Egyptian Hawkman and the police officer of Thanagar Hawkman existing in the same continuity. You also had an impostor Katar Hal, who was pretending to be Carter Hall's son, and a totally different Katar Hal from the original acting as Hawkman. All of these storylines converged in "Hawkmad", where they were all combined into one being by the Hawk God.
When DC first created its multiverse, it was established that there where two Earths. Earth One (that contained the-then modern characters, and the Justice League), and Earth Two (that contained the older characters, and the Justice Society of America). When the "Crisis On Infinite Earths" event happened, only one world was left in the aftermath.
So what happened to the Justice Society of America?
After the new Earth had been created following the Crisis, it was revealed that Adolf Hitler had been able to tap into the mighty powers of the Spectre, and was going to bring about the Norse Apocalypse - Ragnarok. In order to stop him, Doctor Fate sent the team back to 1945, where they would join the Norse gods in stopping the Fire Giants from destroying reality. What they did not realise was that the battle was never-ending. They were trapped in Limbo, forced to repeat the same battle over and over again.
This was the fate of the original Hawkman and Hawkgirl. They would be forced to fight gods and monsters alike for all eternity, in order to stop the world from ending. Forever would not last that long, however, and the team were saved from their fate by the Spectre and Waverider. They would be returned to continuity during the "Zero Hour" event.
On the surface, Green Arrow might appear to be like Hawkeye from The Avengers, except with an even sillier outfit. This could not be farther from the truth, however, as Green Arrow is one of the most important characters in all of DC Comics. Green Arrow rarely faces cosmic level threats, like what the Justice League battle on a weekly basis. Instead, Green Arrow was all about politics, and the real issues facing society.
In the 1970s, the Green Lantern comic series also featured Green Arrow as a main character. This new co-feature focused on issues such as drug abuse and racism, rather than the straight up "evil" foes that the duo were used to facing. Green Arrow was established as having a far-left Liberal viewpoint, one that mirrored the views of his writers.
Originally, Green Lantern was his political opposite. This was changed to Hawkman, who was changed to having die-hard Conservative values (despite being a reincarnated Egyptian prince, or an alien police officer, or whatever the hell he was that week). It has been established that Green Arrow and Hawkman are ideological opponents, and the two have come to blows on several occasions because of this. They will put aside their politics, however, and join together when facing a real enemy.
Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns is often considered to be one of the most influential comic books of all time. Across its four issue run, The Dark Knight Returns only focused on Batman characters, until the final issue, when Superman and Green Arrow appeared.
The Dark Knight Returns would get a sequel in 2001, around fifteen years after the release of the original. The Dark Knight Strikes Again would feature several characters from the extended DC universe, such as Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, the Atom, Captain Marvel, and Lex Luthor.
In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, it is revealed that Lex Luthor controls America through a proxy president. He keeps the superheroes in line by holding their loved ones hostage. Hawkman and Hawkgirl were living in Costa Rica with their two children, when Luthor ordered a military strike on their position. They would die in each others arms, as Luthor's men carpet-bombed the area. Their son, Hawkboy, would get revenge for their murder, and kill Lex Luthor.
The Justice League are considered the most powerful superhero team in all of DC Comics (and, perhaps, all comics in general). This was further cemented during Grant Morrison's run on JLA, where the Justice League's status as the new heroes of mythology was set.
This was taken to absurd new heights in the Justice League animated series, where Hawkgirl and Solomon Grundy managed to kill a legally distinct copy of Cthulhu, known as Ichthultu.
In the episode "The Terror Beyond", an ancient evil race known as the "Old Ones" are able to travel across dimensions once more, and launch an attack on Earth. The Old Ones are led by Ichthultu, a giant squid monster with seemingly godlike powers.
While the rest of the Justice League fight off the armies of the Old Ones (aided by Doctor Fate and Aquaman), Hawkgirl and Solomon Grundy manage to get inside Ichthultu's body and attack his brain. Grundy is killed in the attempt, whilst Hawkgirl succeeds in crushing Ichthultu's mind with her mace, destroying him once and for all.
Ichthultu is an obvious copy of Cthulhu, and an unnecessary one at that, as Cthulhu had entered the public domain at the time of the episode's release. While facing cosmic level horror is the the whole point of the Justice League - having Hawkgirl of all people kill Cthulhu would make the team absurdly overpowered. After beating Cthulhu by whacking him in the head; what's left to challenge them?