DC Histories: Hawk and Dove

Welcome back to another DC History. We’re well into the New 52 at this point, but there’s still much that can be gained by examining how we got here. Only by looking back at what came before can we understand where we’re going.

This week, we’re looking at Hawk and Dove, the physical embodiment of the Lords of Order and Chaos. It’s been a tough few decades for this pair and the recent announcement of their current series’ cancellation is yet another blow to them. However, they keep rebounding time and again, even from death itself, so don’t count them out. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Hawk and Dove, co-created by Steve Ditko, first debuted as a pair of brothers. Hank and Don Hall were the sons of a sitting judge who had run afoul of the local crime lords. When their dad was threatened by gangsters, Don wished aloud that he and his brother had the power to defend their family. In answer, a disembodied voice rang out. This voice granted the brothers abilities to help others as Hawk and Dove. Hank became Hawk, quick to action and aggression. Don became Dove, more prone to thinking through his actions and concerned with helping others.

Showcase #75 (1968) Cover

When danger was near, Hank and Don would say their respective alternate identities and a mysterious force would instantly change them. They became stronger, faster, and more capable of dealing with whatever problem presented itself before them. Strangely, the pair weren’t very intellectually curious. You’d think that they would immediately begin trying to find more out about the voice that granted them their powers, but it sort of slipped by the wayside. It was the ’60s. Super powers were just falling out of the sky. Why look a gift horse in the mouth? Anyway, they had bigger concerns such as becoming auxiliary members of the Teen Titans, which they eventually did.

The Crisis on Infinite Earths changed the brothers’ status quo. Near the end of the event, a group of shadow creatures descended upon the major cities of the DCU. Hawk and Dove ran into danger in an attempt to save civilians. While his back was turned, a shadow struck Dove, killing him.

From Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 (1986)

Hank didn’t take this well. He got angrier and angrier as he continued his solo superhero career. In an attempt to continue on with his life, Hank decided to go to Georgetown University in Washington D.C. There, Hawk continued to fight crime. During one such case, he was shocked to discover someone dressed very similarly to his dead brother helping him from the shadows. Even more shockingly, this someone was a woman.

From Hawk & Dove (Vol. 2) #1 (1988)

This new Dove was also a student at Georgetown University named Dawn Granger. Like Don before her, Dawn had wished for powers in a moment of need. In a retcon of how Don died, it was revealed that Don’s Dove powers left him just as Dawn’s powers flowed into her. It was the lack of powers that killed Don, not some strange shadow monster. Apparently, the mysterious voice felt that Don wasn’t using his powers correctly and that Dawn was a better fit in the role of Dove.

From Secret Origins (Vol. 3) #43 (1989)

Hank didn’t take well to this new Dove. The original Dove hadn’t just been his crime fighting partner, he’d been Hank’s brother. To see someone else take that role hit him hard. This feeling of animosity between partners, along with the art stylings of newcomer Rob Liefeld, helped make Hawk and Dove’s 1988 miniseries a success. Few answers were given in the miniseries as to where the pair’s powers came from and fans demanded a follow up series. DC agreed and an ongoing was started the following year.

Hawk & Dove (Vol. 3) In-House Ad (1989)

Over time, this new ongoing series detailed just who had given Hawk and Dove their powers. It seemed that Hawk’s powers came from a Lord of Chaos named T’Charr while Dove’s powers came from a Lord of Order named Terataya. For two beings of with such opposite goals, it was deemed very unusual for them to be working together like this. When Hawk and Dove found themselves in Lords’ realm, Hawk and Dove’s bodies began to change into even more extreme avatars of their respective Lords. It was in this realm that they also discovered why T’Charr and Terataya were working together: They were in love.

From Hawk & Dove (Vol. 3) #17 (1990)

The Hawk & Dove ongoing series was canceled the following year with issue number 28.

Here’s where things start going off the rails for Hawk and Dove. As mentioned in DC Histories: Captain Atom, Armageddon 2001 was the big DC event in 1991. During this event, it was revealed that a current hero would eventually turn evil and become Monarch, the future tyrant of the world. Captain Atom was scheduled to become that villain but, as word had leaked out to fans that this was the reveal, DC decided to change plans at the last minute. DC scrambled and picked a different character to become Monarch.

When Monarch traveled back in time at the end of Armageddon 2001, one of the first things he did was start killing off Hawk and Dove’s supporting cast. Then, he kidnapped Hawk and Dove themselves. While forcing Hawk to watch, he killed Dove.

From Armageddon 2001 #2 (1991)

After making sure Dove was dead, Monarch then released Hawk from the paralysis with which he’d be struck. Hawk, in a moment of blind, unseeing rage, yanked Monarch’s helmet off and proceeded to beat him to death. Only after the beating was complete did he realize that he was seeing an older version of himself.

From Armageddon 2001 #2 (1991)

So, Hank took Monarch’s armor from his dead body and became Monarch himself. This particular part never made sense for me, but what are you gonna do? Apparently, the rage and chaos inside of Hawk completely consumed him without his Order counterpoint. In any case, he went completely evil.

After becoming Monarch, Hank Hall didn’t do too much. His next move would come a few years later when he realized how powerful he truly was. He claimed that Dove’s death meant that all of her powers had actually flown into him. The combination of all the powers of Hawk, Dove, and Monarch meant that Hank was more powerful than any one of them. To celebrate this newly realized power, he got himself a ’90s look and a ’90s name. Hank was now Extant.

From Showcase '94 #9 (1994)

Extant is mostly known for working with Hal Jordan during the Zero Hour event. If you missed Hal’s fall into evil, check out DC Histories: Hal Jordan. While working for Hal, Extant managed to wipe out a chunk of the Justice Society. In a (very) controversial moment, he actually killed the Golden Age Dr. Mid-Nite, Hourman, and Atom with his bare hands.

After that, Hank disappeared for years. It was only after the Justice Society was revived in the pages of JSA that he would be brought to justice for his murders. It in the pages of JSA that Atom Smasher, whose real name was Albert Rothstein and who was the godson of the Golden Age Atom, arranged for Extant to take the place of his mother who was on board of a plane that had been crashed by the evil organization run by Kobra.

From JSA #15 (2000)

This should be the end of the story. Two Doves and one Hawk were dead. Then, suddenly, it was revealed that Dawn Granger might not be completely dead.

WARNING: Continuity confusion ahead. Feel free to skip the following paragraph in order to save your sanity.

It seems that the Monarch who Hank thought he killed back during the end of Armageddon 2001 was actually an evil wizard named Mordru in disguise. This “Monarch” hadn’t actually killed Dove but had put her into a magical coma. While Dawn was in that coma, Mordru forced Hank and Dawn to conceive a child that would be a perfect melding of Chaos and Order. Mordru hoped to use that child to become the latest Dr. Fate. The future Monarch never existed. Before Mordru could take control of the baby, the reincarnated spirit of the Golden Age Hawkman‘s son, Hector Hall, took over the baby’s body and became the new Dr. Fate. Hector used his powers to instantly age himself. Mordru’s spells on Dawn were eventually broken by Hector and Dove was once again free.

From JSA #45 (2003)

It pretty much all boiled down to this: Dawn was still alive and Hank was dead. Now that Dove was back in action, Dawn thought that a new Hawk was somewhere out in the world, waiting for a teamup.

From JSA #52 (2003)

Dawn spent the next year or so searching for her latest partner. Evidently, she was successful. When Dove next appeared, the new Hawk had been found. Hawk was Holly Granger, Dawn’s long-lost British half-sister. There was some baggage there, but the sisters tried to work through it.

From Teen Titans (Vol. 3) #22 (2005)

Having a pair of sisters be Hawk and Dove was a nice balance to the original Hawk and Dove brothers. I wish that this duo had gotten a miniseries to explore their dynamic together, but their time was cut short by the Blackest Night event. It was there that a Black Lantern Hank Hall took exception to there being a new Hawk and ripped Holly’s heart out.

From Blackest Night: Titans #2 (2009)

At the end of Blackest Night, the pre-Monarch version of Hank Hall was resurrected. Dawn Granger and Hank Hall were finally a team again. It was as though the previous two decades hadn’t happened, which is, all things considered, probably for the best.

During Brightest Day, the cute couple of Dawn and the newly alive Boston Brand, also known as Deadman, began a relationship. It was a nice pairing.

From Brightest Day #17 (2011)

Tragically, Boston died at the end of Brightest Day while saving Dawn’s life. That didn’t stop the two of them from spending time together, as Dove is one of the few people who can see Boston as a ghost. Still, I would have loved to see these two have a longer tangible relationship.

In the New 52, Hawk and Dove had their own series once again. Their story in the New 52 hadn’t changed one bit. Hank and Don were the original pair and Dawn was the new one in the group. Unfortunately, their latest series is ending with its eighth issue. These two characters do have a ton of potential. Here’s hoping that they show up in other titles soon.

Hawk & Dove (Vol. 5) #1 (2011) Cover

For those looking for ‘classic’ Hawk and Dove stories, I’d recommend their 1988 miniseries and 1989 ongoing series. Both are quite good. Seek them out. Also, some of the original Ditko stories can be found in a new Omnibus.


Jeff Reid was a big fan of Armageddon 2001 when he was 9 but it’s probably for the best if no one ever mentions Monarch ever again. Also Extant, which is just an awful name. Get more insights like this on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Vidman Vidman says:

    My absolute favorite superheros since 1989, and they had to cancel it.

    I realize people don’t like Liefeld, but did they have to be SO down on this comic?

  2. kennyg kennyg says:

    Wow, their history is almost more messed up than Hawkman. I didn’t realize Hank was Extant. Seems like these two have potential in the right hands. Getting them in those hands is the challenge.

    • Jeff Reid Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

      Hank being Extant really didn’t seem to come up very much but that might have a lot to do with Extant not appearing in many stories at all. Perhaps it was the awful name or the awful rational for why he became a villain, but Hank was out of DC Comics for years.

    • kennyg kennyg says:

      Oh, I remember Extant and him taking out some of the JSA. I just didn’t remember he was Hank.

      WTF were they thinking?

    • mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

      When i read Zero Hour, the scene where Monarch transforms into Extant felt so ridiculous. From what i remember (and from what Jeff wrote above), he sort of just realized “Hey, I can do this now! I’m going to completely reinvent myself for no good reason other than to have a brand new villain for this story!” :P

  3. mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

    You can really tell from the way Hawk and Dove were drawn on that first Ditko cover which side of the political spectrum he fell under