Saturday, June 15, 2013

How Many Hawkmans?

As part of the 30 Days project, I’ll be reviving Gone&Forgotten for a short article every day throughout the month. As Your Humble Editor plays Catch-Up, let's also play another game called How Many Hawkmans...

Despite being one of the less luminous stars in the constellations of DC Comics' expansive galaxy (still, nonetheless, having persisted in the cultural zeitgeist to a sufficient degree that he's scored both a candy bar commercial and a legit parody porno), Hawkman - whom you'd imagine would slip by relatively unnoticed by the gatekeepers of canon, owing to his low profile - ends up having a remarkably convoluted backstory. Throughout his nearly-three-quarters of a century in print, he's been pulp adventurer, space cop, political mouthpiece and cultural allegory, right-wing contrarian - sometimes all at once.

But more confusingly, sometimes you don't even know how many Hawkman there are, so let's play HOW MANY HAWKMANS:

1940-1961 One Hawkman

Debuting in Flash Comics #1 (which really came out in 1939, but let's not argue with the cover dates) Hawkman was wealthy dilettante archaeologist Carter Hall who one day realized that he was the reincarnation of a murdered Egyptian prince and started dressing like a bird and stabbing people with a magic knife. Everyone took it pretty well, but you know if Kanye started doing it, they'd never stop giving him shit.

Carter Hall remained pretty high-profile until super-hero comics began to dip in popularity, after which point a revival was staged and his name, mantle and giant ridiculous mask ended up in the hands of alien space cop Katar Hol. Surreptitiously observing Terran crimefighting techniques, Katar - whose home planet was full of dudes who dressed like birds and birds who dressed like dudes (long story) - Katar and his wife Shayera were stationed in a spaceship and beat criminals up with clubs. Space policing is confusing.

1961-1975 Two Hawkmans

With the latter-day reinventions of Golden Age superheroes achieving exceptional popularity, the old ones were brought back as residents of a parallel earth, allowing the two Hawkmen to coexist, if only on different worlds. Reincarnated Egyptian Prince Hawkman and Hit-Em-With-A-Mace Space Cop Hawkman never had the close relationship their fellow heroes Green Lantern or Flash had with their counterparts, possibly because what would they even talk about? It starts fine talking about their mutual love of birds and wooden bludgeons and then hits a lull when the topic turns to always coming back to life after being murdered or isn't it funny how the birds here on Earth don't wear people masks?

1975-1985 Two And A Half Hawkmans

Writer Cary Bates introduced youthful Californian Charley Parker who idolized Hawkman and ran around in a home-made Hawkman costume, calling himself "Golden Eagle". He was never a proper sidekick, and mostly I think they invented him just to have a bird-themed superhero named after Charlie Parker because, bless their hearts, comic book writers are only ever "clever" in their own special way ...

1986 - 1994 Three Hawkmans (maybe)? 

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, a lot of characters were reset to "zero" and started anew, while others went on about their business without getting a revamp. And then there's Hawkman, who got a revamp but late out of the gate so had, in fact, already been flying around the new condensed universe for a while, so had to have his disparity relieved by - adding an interim Hawkman! Actually an alien spy from Katar Hol's home planet, he briefly served as a traitorous Hawkman, which imagine if someone said the same about you. You'd be devastated.

1994-2011ish Everybody's a Hawkman!

Zero Hour, the followup to Crisis, revealed that the murdered Egyptian prince had not only been reincarnated as the first Hawkman, but as the second Hawkman, and also a bunch of other heroes from history like Nighthawk and The SIlent Knight and probably I'd make up some more if I were them, like the prehistoric CaveHawk and his companion Dinohawk. Also maybe there's something called the Hawkgod and Golden Eagle might still be dicking around. Anyway, lots of Hawkmans, that's what I'm trying to say, you might even be one.

2011-on The NU DC 52 EXxxXTrEME BOLDBERRY FLAVOR Hawkman
I hell of do not know or care.

And that brings us up to date, how many Hawkmans did you count? Write the number down on the inside of a Dixie cup and ask your parents to mail it to the G&F offices for you, and if your parents are dead then I'm really sorry, that must be awful.


Ron Shigeta said...

really enjoying the 30 day project! hope it will at least occasionally keep coming up!

Hawkman & Hawkman

Ron Shigeta said...

awesome post - hope you'll continue to write at least once in a while!


Hawkman, Hawkman & Hawkman

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