Thursday, December 29, 2016

Justice for Hawkman

I demand justice for Hawkman.

DC, to its credit,  has done a solid job righting its floundering New52/DCYou ship with its "Rebirth" changes.  In Rebirth it seems that DC has finally shaken off its insecurity issues and stopped trying to ape its 'cooler' schoolyard rival, Marvel.  DC has embraced the idea that its heroes should (a) good people and (b) BETTER people than we are and that (c) that should inspire us not depress us. The current Bat-titles are a good bellwether: despite facing some gruesome situations and personally challenging events, Batman himself remains hopeful, focused on doing good, and eager to work with others to make that happen.  Rather than Gotham debasing Batman, Batman ennobles Gotham.

"I don't mean to be critical, Carter, but... straighten up and fly right already.  You're embarrassing the rest of us."

Hats off to DC also for finally focusing on putting all its top icons on solid footing first before fussing about the fates of Space Cabby, Detective Chimp, and G'nort, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash -- I (and others) are buying ALL their books again, because they are doing interesting, engaging stories that are not dependent on severe distortions of what the character is or what they are personally like.  If I'm not reading Green Lantern and Green Arrow it's not because they aren't on solid footing. It's because they are still Green Lantern and Green Arrow, after all.

Jeez, just get a room, boys.


So I am afforded the luxury of worrying about some of DC's Second Tier icons, like Hawkman, The Atom, Martian Manhunter. DC's clearly got something in the works for the Atom, which, along the lines of what they are doing with Blue Beetle, will stabilize the IP by incorporating both the Silver/Bronze Age version (Ray Palmer) and the Iron Age version (Ryan Choi).  Martian Manhunter...well, he's going to need a post all his own.  Which brings us to Hawkman.

Is it REALLY that hard to figure out what to do with Hawkman, people?


DC is doing...something with Hawkman.  I've not been reading it, I'll admit, but killing Hawkman and pairing him with Adam Strange (again) doesn't strike me as doing him justice.  Focusing on the space-base version of his legend has limited lasting appeal, I think. Hawkman works best, ironically, when he's more grounded.

"Look, Ollie, Barry may have the patience for this sort of treatment, but I do not."


Geoff Johns did it (and thanks to James Robinson, created a new fictionopolis for Hawkman).  Gray and Palmiotti did it in Hawkman's 2002-2006 series.  They managed to fold in a farrago of Hawkman's forgotten foes (Hummingbird, Lasso, the glorious Fadeaway Man, Lion-Mane, the Thought Terror, Trygg the Sorceror, Satana, the Purple Pilgrim) in a story that had high stakes, evil villains, and character growth.  It can be done again, and without expecting us to care about Thanagar and stupid stupid Rann.

I can't respect a planet that can produce neither heroes nor zoning regulations.

What do YOU think Hawkman deserves?

18 comments:

MichaelT said...

Maybe it's just when I first encountered the character but:

1) Hawkman can only be Hawkman when he's partnered with Hawkwoman.
2) Carter and Shiera are married, and always have been. Plenty of other characters can play the courting game. (Flash alone seems to have a new beau [belle] every week. Geez, imagine speed dating with him!)
3) It's a loving, sharing, equal partnership, highlighting that a superhero couple can work. (And where are Ralph and Sue, hmmm?)
4) Katar & Shayera are cops from Thanagar, here to observe our police methods. Thanagar is soundly offstage. It worked for Clifford D. Simak (look it up, kids!), it can work here.
5) I'm also open to bringing back the Hawkman/Atom friendship, and even the Hawkman/Arrow animosity, if they can be played in a more realistic context. The old hippie-hawk stuff does not work, but there are many storylines that could play out with conservative/liberal viewpoints, and Ray Palmer in the middle as the voice of reason (science).

Chad Walters said...

I've never understood why the Egyptian Hawkman and the space cop Hawkman always have to be either/or. Is DC really saying that they have room for a million Green Lanterns and 38 Robins but two (wildly different) Hawkmen is a bridge too far? It's never made sense to me. Just keep space cop Hawkman away from Earth most of the time and it'll be fine.

Scipio said...

Michael, I am thoroughly sold on most of your points. Not quite as certain as you are of (4), but willing to accept it on faith.

Chad, do you mean that there should be TWO Hawkmen?

SallyP said...

But... but I LIKE Gnort!

However, you do make a valid point. I also like Hawkwoman, and for apete's sake let's get these two crazy kids together again.

Anonymous said...

The Thanagarian space cops work best, I was surprised to discover, because the wings are mostly an affectation; the Hawks have a ton of other specialized equipment for their adventures (and after-hours adventures).

A "magic" Hawkman is saddled with the problem of making the singular ability of flight interesting on an ongoing basis. If we're going there, the ways I'd work it are one or more of the following:

1) The Hawks' reincarnation cycle doesn't make them victims of cruel cruel fate; they are more Phoenix than Hawk, or there's some sort of balance between the two.

2) Stay with me on this one: suppose Katar Hol were a Conan-type warrior from some Hyborean Age or other -- in Egypt or on Thanagar -- and he slew an evil wizard and took his wings as spoils. Later he got sent to the modern age. The point is, most of the time he's going around without the wings on, Hercules-In-New-Yorking it and being a tough guy on his own terms. He puts on the wings when he knows he's going into battle and expects he'll need to defy gravity.

Andrew said...

I am firmly with Michael T. I have nothing to add to his points... at least points 1-4. I'm agnostic on 5.

And Scipio, I think 4 is especially correct. The Silver Age did Hawkman and Hawkgirl (er, Hawkwoman) right: they are Strange Visitor Cops From Another World. They appear in detective stories first and foremost, in which their odd perspectives and affectation for archaic weaponry help them solve mysteries and fight crime.

That, I'd buy.

Anonymous said...

The Hawks as detectives ... what are detectives if not hunters who see their prey from a long distance? It's thematically appropriate.

I don't mind that the Hawks enjoy Medieval weaponry, but I very much mind if gratuitous violence is their go-to move. Sure they can handle themselves in a fight, but if you're describing Hawkman and the words "violent asshole" come up, maybe that's not a great take on Hawkman. (Now "does inventive things with his asshole", on the other hand ...)

Jacob Rehm said...

I think they are ancient Egyptians reincarnated as space cops reincarnated back into archeologists who have knowledge of AncientAliens ala StarGate and they have an arsenal of ancient gear that is actually advanced alien tech. Be like Indiana Jones and thwart fascists and then aliens 👽

Bryan L said...

Let me start by saying that the fate of Detective Chimp is EXTREMELY important. DC embodies DC (see what I did there?) with all of its absurdity, magic, and craziness, and as the Chimp goes, so does the DC universe. Moreover, he's steadily improved over the years (God, I miss Shadowpact). You've got Vibe, Scipio, so just back away from the Chimp.

On to Hawkman. I prefer the reincarnated archeologist (sorry, Michael T). I think it's a brilliant hook, fusing Indiana Jones, magic, and the DC universe. The problem is when he's forced to operate on too large a scale. He should be solving ancient mysteries, traveling the world, and getting into trouble, not fighting Mongul with the Justice League. I particularly love the idea that he can tap into his memories of past lives. I'm fine with Shayera as long as we steer clear of the Mavis Trent/soap opera crap.

Of course, you see the problem. Writing Hawkman my way would require research and/or a deep knowledge of history, and that's something most comic writers are unwilling to do. Which I get, by the way. I do a lot of freelance and I completely understand limiting the time a project can suck up from a financial perspective, particularly when you're on a flat rate. But my take would require work. It's "easier" to dream up Thanagar scenarios than to actually find out what Egyptians and archeologists do.

Justin Metzger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Metzger said...

I like the reincarnated versions of Hawkman. I recall Johns did some playing around with Hawkmen through the ages in his run in the aughts. I would love to see a return of the classic Hawkman, although how to justify it with the space cop Hawkman I do not know. What I do know, is Hawkman should be black.

I do 100% want a black skinned Hawkman. He is at root an Egyptian. When reincarnated he can return however he wants, it would be a great nod to his Egyptian roots if he would return as an actual Egyptian or other African. It would also be a step toward reconciling his very white appearances by Neville and later Fox and many many others who drew him as a white Egyptian, an aberration at best a racist white-washing at worst.

Sheira/Kendra became increasingly darker skinned through the years, to where I swear she is almost a black woman in DC's Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons and comics of the era. Kendra Saunders I am almost positive is a black woman.

Hawkman and Hawkwoman in DC's Legends of Tomorrow are cast and shown as what I would call ambiguous race. I would not be so gauche as to ask how Ciara Renee racially identifies, but she is darker skinned than her obviously white co-star Caity Lotz. Fankle Hentschel, the actor who plays Hawkman, is likely white as well, being of German (East) descent. I often project onto him my desire that he be black man, although a white-washed version of one, and am drawn to his darker complexion and somewhat broader nostrils to make me point.

Sadly though DC has done little to correct the myth that ancient Prince Khufu was a black man. Making the next reincarnation of Hawkman of black African heritage would make me very very happy indeed.

Scipio said...

Justin: "Hawkman should be black." A very interesting idea, and one that has never occurred to me. I have always felt that way about the Martian Manhunter's private identity I have been gratified that it's finally the case (at least on the teevee).

Bryan: "Writing Hawkman my way would require research and/or a deep knowledge of history, and that's something most comic writers are unwilling to do. "
Hm, I dunno; sad if true. They have the whole damned internet now. Back in the day, comic writers used to scour magazines for idea and keep facts written on index cards. If you read those stories you can literally see them desperately working 'True Facts' into the plot.

Jacob: "ancient Egyptians reincarnated as space cops reincarnated back into archeologists who have knowledge of AncientAliens ala StarGate and they have an arsenal of ancient gear that is actually advanced alien tech"
Why not? That's not really much crazier or more complicated than the Silver Age versions of them, which is what put them on the map really.

yrzhe said...

I'm not up to speed on the Hawkpeople's gazillion reboots and reimaginings; has anyone tried having them be reincarnated from Thanagarian pharaohs who ruled Egypt with alien supertech yet? It's a clean way to combine the two origins. Hawkman can be the archaeologist, Hawkwoman the modern Thanagarian space cop. Or vice versa.

Jacob Rehm said...

I thought they already reconciled the ancient origin with the alien origin the way I said. I didn't read Geoff Johns' Hawman yet, I just assumed that's what it was about. I am stunned if this mythos is still a Gordian knot.

Anonymous said...

Jacob - You're right that the origin has been fixed (unless it's since been knocked out of continuity), the problem is that Hawkman is still kind of a dud. Or at least I think that's what's going on here. And I suspect the heart of the duddiness is, while flying with wings makes for a terrific visual, it's a pretty lame primary superpower. The typical fix is to try to make Hawkman a total badass with wings and maybe some additional Nth metal equipment, but flight is still his primary ability, and so we haven't escaped the problem.

Sr. Favo Posso deixar vazio sim said...

NOT going around shirtless is a good start. "Shirtless" is not a uniform. Also makes zero sense - Hawkman is not bullet-proof. He should wear something suitably "primitive-looking" but not heavy - some armor that doesn't look burdening but not like usual super-hero costume. Its actually pretty advanced, to keep the theme.

I never like Hawkman in comics, as a rule he seems to be a arrogant, violent jackass tryhard.

Uncle Screensaver said...

I was not even seven years old back in the day when there were two Hawkmen and Hawkgirl and Hawkwoman. The multiverse and two main versions of the heroes wasn't complicated at all. COIE was supposed to be "simpler" but all it did was make things more complicated in the long run and not as much fun.

I don't get why DC can't just have both Hawkmen, if not one with the origin of the Justice League Action cartoon Hawkman who was the Egyptian prince on Earth reincarnated eventually as the Thanagarian space cop.

Also, Johns wrote Hawkman well before His ego set in, and it worked. But as mentioned above, what had always been a plus for Carter/ Katar was his partnership with Shiera/ Shayera. By the time that suicide/ not suicide/ not-Shiera-but-is Shiera was settled, DC killed them off only to be rebooted and separated again in every way possible because they don't have faith in what worked for the characters.

If Hawkman can't hold on to an ongoing it may be because of fatigue on the reader's part. When I was growing up, the Hawks were part of the A-List and were featured prominently in the JLA and marketing. Then Crisis came and for 30+ years DC has constantly been trying to figure an origin for him - but unlike Donna Troy, they've changed who his character is and personality.

Since the 1990's they've had this mentality to make him more like Wolverine, even making him "savage," but the more "edgy" they make him, they also make him unlikable. Doing all this has diminished the character's status.

With the Justice League/ Justice League Unlimited cartoon, they erased his importance completely and he first appeared in homage form as a villain. While I can't say I didn't like Hawkgirl taking prominence, it did make my little nephew at time question who Hawkman was. He loved Hawkgirl and when my younger brother had a Heroclix of Hawkman, my nephew asked him if he was Hawkgirl's "Robin."

Unfortunately, with so many Batman titles and Star Wars and Marvel's constant first issues, Hawkman may not be able to have an ongoing but he certainly deserves better treatment than what DC is giving him. He died in Justice League United, came back but is now in a book that isn't even tied to the greater DCU. No one is going to mourn him except for Adam Strange it seems. It's basically like DC today can't figure out what to do with him so they're washing their hands of him with this book.

LissBirds said...

As for Hawkman, maybe they could streamline his origins a bit? It was something that always confused me and kind of put me off from reading Hawkman.

But the real burning question I have is: did DC ever fix Adam Strange? They messed him up royally in the New52 and it's the reason I gave up on DC.