Hawkman: a 1940 cover. Artist: Sheldon Moldoff.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1939
Creator: Gardner Fox
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According to writer Gardner Fox, the inspiration for Hawkman came in the form of a bird flying around his window, just when he was trying to dream up features for DC's new monthly anthology, …

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Flash Comics. It's possible he's confused himself with Batman — it was a bat flying through Bruce Wayne's window that inspired that hero's crime-fighting motif. A more likely (but less dramatic) explanation is that the title Flash Comics made him think of Flash Gordon, and he was inspired by a race of winged warriors Flash had met several years earlier, the Hawkmen of Mongo.

Wherever the idea came from, Flash Comics #1 introduced Hawkman, a winged superhero, whose impressive visual presence put him on the cover of no less than 50 subsequent issues. He and The Flash himself were the only characters to appear in all 104 issues of the title. In #4, the art reins were passed on to Sheldon Moldoff (Kid Eternity, Black Pirate), and later they went to Joe Kubert (Tor, Enemy Ace), both of whom became strongly associated with the character.

Hawkman was Carter Hall, wealthy collector of ancient weapons, who learned in a vision that he was the reincarnation of the ancient Egyptian Prince Khufu, and therefore tied by bonds of eternal love to a woman named Shiera. Later that day, he met Shiera Sanders, who looked exactly like the woman he'd seen — and who'd had a similar vision about him. According to the vision, he was required to save her from a reincarnation of the priest Hath-Set, who had murdered both back in Egypt.

He did this by using a combination of weapons from his collection, and a harness made of the "Ninth Metal", which he'd conveniently discovered recently, and whose anti-gravity properties enabled him to fly. The wings, designed in the image of the Egyptian god Anubis, were added to control his flight. After defeating Anton Hastor (Hath-Set's reincarnation), he decided, in the tradition of masked crime-fighters everywhere, to continue using his Hawkman identity to combat evil.

In All Star Comics #6, Shiera started wearing a female counterpart to his costume. As of Flash Comics #24 (December, 1941), she permanently assumed the role of his partner in adventure. Since, in those pre-enlightenment days, it was permissible to refer to grown women as "girls", she called herself Hawkgirl. (She wasn't the first to become a superhero by tagging along with her man — Fawcett Publications' Bulletgirl preceded her by eight months.)

Hawkman was a charter member of The Justice Society of America, and the only one to participate in all of the JSA's 1940s adventures. In most of them, he served as the JSA's chairman. He also participated in the 1960s JSA revival, although by that time there was a new Hawkman flying around the DC Universe.

Carter and Shiera (who were married sometime between the end of the JSA's original series, in 1951, and the characters' return, in 1963) had a son, Hector Hall, who grew up to be a superhero in his own right — The Silver Scarab (no relation), a member of Infinity Inc., and later associated with The Sandman and Doctor Fate.

Today, what with revisions and retcons and confused storylines, nobody seems quite sure what to do with the original Hawkman and Hawkgirl. But that detracts nothing from their original run, which remains a high point of DC's 1940s output.


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