Monday, July 27, 2009

On The Beloved Hawkman


As we all know, Devon is a HUGE fan of Hawkman (meaning he like's Hawks an awful lot, and not a commentary on his weight). I know he's not the only one, but, man, it's got to be rough being a Hawkman fan.

I just finished ploughing through the 1993 Hawkman series (for the first time since it ended) and also the Legend of the Hawkman mini-series, as well as the entire Hawkworld run over the previous two months, and hot damn that's some convoluted continuity. But I knew that already... everyone knows that... but for a brief time it had seemed like they had it all sorted out, explaining the post-Crisis confusion with a bit of bait and switch. But it seemed the more that went on after Hawkworld ended, Katar Hol's half human/half Thanagarian lineage, his Native American heritage, his Zero Hour merger with the hawk avatar and every Hawk champion from the past (including Shining Knight, Nighthawk and the golden age Hawkman and Hawkwoman) only made things so much harder to comprehend. If having one origin was complicated enough, saddling a character with another half-dozen histories and origins wasn't the smartest move. Hell, golden age Carter Hall's whole Egyptian reincarnation bit is complex enough of its own, and reintroducing it in the Hawkman Annual #2 just made for dizzying reading. I have to say though, that John Ostrander and William Messner-Loebs did a pretty good job in spite of all the confusion writing the books like they actually understood everything that was going on.

That the character was ostensibly put on hiatus for four years didn't help much.

During his time Grant Morrison introduced the rogue angel Zauriel in JLA, with the expectation of making him the new from-scratch Hawkman, but DC wouldn't have it. Where's Zauriel now? Nobody knows. Nobody cares.

A while later when the character returned, it was preluded by the befuddling Legend of the Hawkman, in which Katar and Shayera appeared as their silver age incarnation, dealing with the Egyptian and Thanagarian stuff. It was James Robinson and Geoff Johns who came in and decided to revamp the Hawks altogether, giving Hawkgirl a new identity and reincarnating Hawkman as Carter Hall once more so that he was more like his golden age counterpart. This seemed to be the best solution, giving both characters a bit of a fresh start while also allowing them to have connections to the past... but again, it wasn't to last, as Jim Starlin comes in and starts mucking about with the whole Crisis and multiverse business again, stating that Hawkman is an aberration...

Well, he is at that.

And now, there's Blackest Night where yet another indignity befalls the Hawks (not to mention the Dibneys). Sigh.

At the very least we have Kyle Baker's Hawkman in Wednesday Comics... where does he fit in with continuity? Best not think about it.

So, my question for you, Second Printers, is this:
How do we fix the next Hawkman?

4 comments:

Rob S. said...

I don't know the exact procedure; ask a veterinarian, I guess.

But there goes the star-crossed-lovers, theme, if you do...

Devon Sanders said...

My way would be to go with what we already know and just let it ride.

Stay with the Egyptian god connection and go from there.

Acknowledge that, at one point, there was a Thanagarian police officer, a Native American, a Golden Age Hawkman and whatever but simply establish that the best and most accomplished of them all was Carter Hall, plain and simple. Establish that each of the Hawkmen was individual yet connected by the name and the taking up of the mantle.

Simply put, establish him as his own greatest legacy character.

Great post!

Cabel said...

Go the Flash route. During the next summer crossover put single one back in continuity. Let there be a League of Hawkmen. Let some of them know each other (Carter and Kortar), let them exist side by side. Tell mostly Carter's stories.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

The best, simplest, and most effective fix would be as popular as a dead rat in a salad bar: an entirely new Hawkman. Have a new guy inherit the wings. He's not the reincarnation of Khufu, he's not a Thanagarian policeman, he's something else. You could set up the legacy nonsense, whereby he'd run afoul of Carter Hall's old rogues as well as the Thanagarians, but you'd be freed from having to deal with the history any more than you felt necessary.

This would, of course, bomb. But it would be the cleanest solution. (Until some writer, ten years down the line, brings back Katar and Carter in an ill-advised story arc...)

The other good fix is the Mighty Handwave. "Uh, Hawkman is back, because of...um...LOOK OVER THERE! What? Yeah, Hawkman's back. Isn't that cool?" Pick one of the two versions, run with it, and ignore the past. The last Hawkman series did a pretty good job of that, with Carter somehow sorta "fused" with Katar, but they never really explained it or did anything with it. Just kept on truckin'.

The only way Hawkman can work is if he's kept away from the guys who like to write Continuity Porn. He's a strong concept. Cling to that, let the tangle of history get lost down the memory hole. Establish an editorial edict that the Hawkman Tangle is never to be touched again, and he and his stories should be considered only from the moment of relaunch onward.