There have been other aliens that have come to Earth and transformed themselves into heroes, but DC’s Hawkman takes that to a whole new level.This mace-carrying adventure wears a bird-like helmet and adorns himself with wings made out of an exotic super-light metal called Nth metal to fight off threats both alien and natural to Earth.
Originally premiered in a back-up story inside 1940′s Flash Comics #1, Hawkman’s first origin had him pegged as the modern reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince, but later revisions showed that his life is a series of reincarnations of several generations going tracing itself back to the alien world of Thanagar. Hawkman’s continuity trips over itself for a bit between the 1940s to now, making it hard for a fan wanting to get to know this feathered hero. That’s where Where Do I Start? comes in; we’ve collected the four best primers to get to know Hawkman in all his guises, and while some of the stories might contradict others slightly it works to build up the idea of who Hawkman is as a whole.
The Hawkman Omnibus Vol. 1: The chief writer at DC these days is Geoff Johns, and the path to that title started with his contributions to Hawkman. Through a story-arc in JSA, a 25 issue run on the Hawkman title and the stories inside Brightest Day he’s become one of the chief architects and champions of this Thanagarian warrior. This omnibus collects John’s 25 issue run on Hawkman as well as the lead-in from JSA. Johns re-establishes the unique dynamic between Hawkman and partner Hawkgirl and her attempts to buck their “fated union” he remembers. Johns also plays up Carter Hall’s archeologist roots, creating a swashbuckling mythological story like Indiana Jones as a super hero.
Showcase Presents: Hawkman Vol. 1: Although Hawkman debuted in the 40s, if you’re wanting to get an early glimpse at him I’d much rather recommend this 60s reboot by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert. They reinterpret Hawkman’s origins to show him as a cop from Thanagar come to earth after a criminal, and ends up staying on the planet and fighting all manner of extraordinary creatures. Kubert’s rendition of Hawkman puts him at his most savage, and the host of monsters he fights propels the story into a modern sword-n-science fiction story that led some people to compare Hawkman to a Conan-esque hero.
Hawkworld: Inspired by the Dark Age classics like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, this series revisits Hawkman’s origin and puts him as a warrior known as a Wingman from his homeworld of Thanagar. With no Earth in sight, this story shows Thanagar as a class-based society with Hawkman — known here as Katar Hol — a ruthless soldier who breaks with his past and fights for the causes of lower-class Thanagarians. In it’s time it caused a severe split in the Hawkman fanbase due to how different it was than what came before, but looking back over 20 years now it’s become a unique part of the character’s past.
Legend of the Hawkman: Created as a 3-issue Elseworld series, Legend of the Hawkman has been overlooked by many because it was never intended to work inside the larger DCU continuity of the character but it remains a great standalone story of Hawkman worth revisiting. Written by Ben Raab with excellent art by Michael Lark, it successfully bridges the gap between the different ideas of who Hawkman is and essentially creates a unified idea of the character that wouldn’t be out of place in reader-friendly efforts like DC’s Earth One graphic novels or Marvel’s Season One. It balances the characters ties to Thanagar, the romance between Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the character’s ties to using ancient weapons for modern causes, and more. This is truly worth tracking down on eBay or in back issue bins if you want to understand Hawkman.