Hawkman: Where Do I Start?

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.

Comments

  1. pyynk pyynk says:

    If there was ever a character who could most benefit from the DC reboot, it’s Hawkman.

    • Agreed. The Hawkman series currently running is impenetrable and also badly done. He was awesome in Brightest Day.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Swing and a miss!

    • Bluestreak says:

      Only DC can reboot a character becasue he is so impenetrable and then make him as impenetrable again in the space of 6 issues.

    • I really enjoyed the new Hawkman. What was not to like about the art, some of the best art I have seen recently. As for the first story I found enjoyable compared to some of the new 52 and I really was looking forward to seeing the concept take flight. I am upset that they gave up with the current team of writing and art. Especially the art. I mean compare the art to superboy’s art. Just my thoughts thou, I’m new to the whole comic book world as I just started readying when I discovered the New 52 would be reintroducing the hero’s from start.

  2. vinylhed says:

    I love the Hawkworld mini, and the first story arc of the ongoing series. The mini sets up the alien hawk police concept and gets the reader caring about the characters. Then the series brings them to earth, where there’s a fish-out-of-water scenario as they try and operate alongside the police.

  3. Smasher says:

    Should of changed the title of this one to:

    Hawkman: Don’t Even Go There

    Admirable write-up though, Chris.

  4. I just finished reading the first volume of DC’s All-Star Comics Archive Edition. The Hawkman art in that series by Shelly Moldoff is some of the best Golden Age art I’ve ever seen. That is definitely worth checking out (although Hawkman only makes up about 15% of the stories).

    I was impressed enough that I’m ordering the Golden Age Hawkman archive edition, which I think Moldoff did most of and I’m really excited for.

  5. Flash923 Flash923 says:

    Hawkman where are you know?
    The New 52 for the DCU has finally reached the 6 issue point and Hawkman was dropped by me after issue #1. This really hurt, as Hawkman is one of my favorite DC characters and this character has had more up and downs then a super coaster. There have been few and far between when it comes to writing a good Hawk-title and this one is a far betweener. As a comicbook fan and not a professional writer or artist, this title opened up with art that was hard to focus in on, almost felt blurry and the story in issue one had me closing the book after the first few pages, seriously. The merging of the Nth metal with his body really was a large put off for a lot of folks I think as well as Hawkman not wanting to be The Hawkman; proposterous!! Hawkman where are you now and who is this poor excuse for our winged knight?
    I believe I read this in one of many comments sections somewhere here on IFanBoy; DC should cancel this call it a wash and bring back Carter Hall this time for real!! From what I hear they have already said that Carter Hall here is really Katar Hol anyway so hopefully this one can be eliminated from our minds now! Like Aquaman, I believe Hawkman needs to be given to someone with a reputable writing talent and a fresh artist with some real chops. Right now it really looks like smudges all over this comic book issue to issue as I try to look inside every month and than put it right back down again.
    Now, DC is going to switch to Rob Liefeld on this title and I really think maybe writing it would be good for Rob as far as his artwork…. I say nay! Mr. Liefelds days of drawing comics are long gone for him, his art style is so out dated and so stiff that it could really kill a characters dreams of becoming better. Liefeld had a great run thru the later part of the 80′s as a fresh and up coming talent and then widely chased after thru the 90′s and I guess we know the rest of the story. I do feel bad saying these things because he was very talented and I believe he can still kick out some great plots. Well, good luck and I will see what it looks like when he gets on board however; I will not be expecting a whole lot. (Better to not expect right?)

    K

  6. Is the Hawkman Omnibus worth buying? I never got into the character, but my LCS has the book for a steal. Thoughts?