Dive into the World of Hawkman Comics!

September 6, 2023

(Hawkman Comics! Image courtesy of DC/Stavo Nunez)

The 2022 film Black Adam was awful. I need a bigger blog word count to fully express why. However, I did enjoy Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Fate and Aldis Hodge’s portrayal of Hawkman. Hawkman is one of those comic book characters who are wildly popular with a cult base of comic book geeks but not popular enough to be more widely known like Superman or Batman with casual readers. If this is the case with you, then you may not be reading the right Hawkman Comics.

Hawkman Comics

Adis Hodge’s casting as Hawkman caused some online commotion for race-bending since the character is usually a white man in the comic books. However, Hawkman was created in 1940 during a time of Jim Crow politics. Additionally, white comic book characters were always stumbling onto Asian or African relics and appropriating the powers from that culture – this is also the case with Dr. Fate. Dr. Strange, Moon Knight, and other characters.

The weirdly convoluted history and back story of Hawkman evolved and changed so much over the decades that even longtime fans have a hard time truly relating to the character. Even though Hawkman is a fan favorite, the character is often relaunched with a new origin story every few years.

Hawkman was created in 1940 by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville. First appearing in Flash Comics #1, Carter Hall was an explorer and archeologist who learned he was the reincarnation of the Egyptian god Khufu. Hall adorns a costume made with a rare metal and a hawk motif and becomes a crime fighter.

By 1961, Carter Hall became Katar Hol. Hol was a humanoid alien from the planet Thanagar which was protected by an incorruptible and honorable police force.

Hol was paired with a partner and lover named Shiera Hol, (no relation) who were also ancient lovers who were destined to become reincarnated after death and find each other.

The mythos of Hawkman became a lot more convoluted as the decades went on. But there are plenty of Hawkman comics that are worth reading that get lost in the confusion.

Here are three Hawkman comics you should know about.

The Shadow War of Hawkman (1985)

Written by Tony Isabella and drawn by artists Richard Howell and Alfredo Alcala, The Shadow War of Hawkman was a 4-issue miniseries published in 1985. (A fifth epilogue issue was published in 1986)

It is one of the best Hawkman comics and stories out there because of its potential. Isabella is a famous comic book writer who created Black Lightning and he wanted to create a mythos for Hawkman and Hawkwoman to exist as standalone characters akin to Batman, Superman, or Woman Woman instead of just being supporting characters.

In the story, a rogue element of Thanagarians begins attacking the Midway City Museum, where Hawkman and Hawkwoman work in their human alter egos. The rogue Thanagarians want to take over the planet. Hawkman and Hawkwoman must stop citizens of their own homeworld from taking over their adopted homeworld.

You can get the Kindle version of this comic for $7.96 at Amazon. It is hard to find the collected versions of this comic but you can find individual issues on Amazon as well.

Hawkworld (1989)

Depending on who you ask, the Modern Age of Comic Books started in either 1985 or 1987 and continues to this day. Before this era, comic books were morally and ethically bound by the Comics Code Authority, a censorship body that arbitrarily decided which comic books were morally safe for the public to read and which ones were not.

After the CCA became toothless and defunct, comic book stories and characters finally grew up. Comic book characters were allowed to be imperfect, flawed, and gritty – gone were the days when comic book stories were morally black and white and the hero saved kittens from high tree branches.

It is no coincidence that the modern antihero, like Venom, was created during this era. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight was published in 1986 – many comic historians consider 1987 to be the start of the Modern Age of comics because of the immediate zeitgeist aftermath of the publishing of The Dark Knight. Comic books became darker – even Superman was de-powered to make him more interesting and give him more powerful villains in this era.

The first 3-issue Hawkworld series was an attempt to bring Hawkman into the Modern Age, clean up his obscenely complex continuity, and reintroduce the character to a new age of comic book fans. It is considered one of the best Hawkman comics during this epoch but is largely forgotten and unappreciated since the previous status quo of the character was retroactively resorted.

Written and drawn by Timothy Truman, Hawkworld was a Modern Age reinvention of Katar Hol on the distant world of Thanagar. The entire comic takes place on the planet Thanagar. Instead of being depicted as a planet of police keepers, Thanagar was depicted as a dystopian planet rife with crime, corruption, and class inequality.

Hawkman is the son of a famed scientist and a naive, coddled son of privilege. The planet of Thanagar is a caste society where the Thanagarians reside at the top, literally, in skyscrapers to denote their privilege. At the bottom of society are the conquered peoples of other planets and societies – planets and societies conquered for the benefit of Thanagar.

Hol partakes in recreational drugs, lives a privileged life, and decides to become a Hawkman, one of the police officers who keep the status quo in check.

During a police raid on the underclass, Hol quickly learns that he might be fighting for the wrong side when he stumbles upon a corruption ring. Hol has to make a choice as to whether to stay blind to the injustice that fuels the Thanagarians or to truly become a warrior of stature.

Hawkworld is a forgotten classic that reimagined Hawkman in a gripping and compelling story. Get a graphic novel reissue now for $14.99 at Amazon.

Legend of the Hawkman (2000).

Written by Benjamin Raab and drawn by Michael Lark, is a surrealistic reinvention of the Hawkman and Hawkgirl mythos, and Hawkman comics in general, as seen through the prism of the Modern Age of comics.

In other words, it is a Silver Age story of Hawkman told in the Modern Age.

Katar and Shiera Hol find an ancient crypt on Earth that might have been built by the Thanagarians long ago. Shiera Hol, no relation, is Hawkgirl. Katar and Shiera are lovers who are destined to die and reincarnate and continually find each other through history. (Their backstory is a lot more complicated than that, but that is the basic gist of it.)

Hawkman and Hawkgirl accidentally release an ancient Thanagarian evil force known as Thasaro. The duo defeats Thasaro, but Thasaro cult worshippers from Thanagar free Thasaro again.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl then have to travel to Thanagar and back to Earth to defeat Thasaro, all the while questioning their Earth and Thanagarian heritages and existences.

You can get the collected issues in a graphic novel at Amazon for $6.20 at Amazon.

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