Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why "Being Carter Hall?"


Or, what got me into being interested in and collecting this character in the first place?

Like most readers, the first thing which attracted me to Hawkman was his look.  Sure, I liked his classic look -- see a later post I will write about the Super Powers Collection Hawkman -- but the look which first drew me to Hawkman was his post-Hawkworld, third title series look, with the black body suit and golden wings.  As a 13 year old, this look was downright awesome.  I bought the first two issues of the new series, missed the third, and then promptly never read it again.  As I said, I was 13 -- I was not very smart, and I constantly chased new or "hot" things, and, evidently after missing an issue I deemed the Winger Wonder to be neither of those qualifiers.  I remember buying and reading the issues, but I don't remember anything which takes place in them, although I am pretty sure that it was a mystery who was wearing the wings.

I became reacquainted with the character through Goyers and Johns' work in JSA.  When I finally took the plunge into JSA after hemming and hawing for months on end, I dove and bought the first trade, knowing full well than only two trades later was The Return Of Hawkman.  Wizard had hyped that story quite a bit, gushing about how it solved all of Hawkman's problems and made him workable again, so I was eager to read it.  Of course, reading JSA, I soon became enamored with other members, including Sand, Atom-Smasher, Jay Garrick (whom I knew well from the pages of Flash), Mr. Terrific, and, yes, the new Hawkgirl -- but that's another post.

Anyway, when I got to the third JSA trade, which is titled and collects The Return Of Hawkman, I really dug it.  The alien cultural aspect of the Thanagarian conflict mixed with all of the reincarnation and other mystical stuff really appealed to different parts of my personality.  And of course, the look, as rendered by Rags Morales, truly was "Conan with wings" -- a fearsome visage of a warrior stuck for some reason right in the middle of a Superhero comic book.  

Some don't care for the changes which ROH brought.  For one thing. Nth metal is changed quite a bit, and now even more remarkable in that it can effect all four of the fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force).  A somewhat larger group were evidently much more unhappy with the apparent jettisoning of Katar Hol.  As for the Nth metal, I'm sorry, but that is just plain cool.  And Katar... well, I had no concept of Katar as a character.  I had never -really- read his adventures, and so he didn't mean anything to me.  As far as I was concerned, this Carter Hall was Hawkman.

It's easy to see the progression from there.  Hawkman was one of the main stars of JSA under Johns' watch, including serving quite a bit of time as the Chairman of the team.  His take-charge, act-first attitude (that got him in trouble sometimes, such as during the Black Reign story), along with his ever changing arsenal of ancient weapons and his continued bad-assed appearance all conspired to make him the top character in the book for me.  Fold into this Shayera's prominent role in Justice League, and the later appearances of both then psuedo-Katar Hro Talek, and then Carter Hall himself, and the seed which was planted years earlier pretty well germinated.  

I resisted such a transition initially.  I have a few major titles and characters which I collect.  For DC, the top one is the Flash, whom I have been reading for many years.  I came to that table after Wally West had taken over the mantle, so my collection of Pre-Crisis Flash is woefully understocked, and I had thought to focus more on that as my Iron Man collection finishes up.  So I tried to keep Hawkman at arm's length, lest I fall into another (admittedly less populated, issue-wise) character to collect.  At Cons, Adama would kid me and taunt me with tantilizing Hawk comics, and I would deny them again and again.  It got to the point where I would walk up to a dealer's booth at random and flip into a longbox and have Hawkman staring back at me.  The Comic Book Gods were trying to tell me something.

The proverbial straw which broke the camel's back was when Adama called me from a small Con in Atlanta.  "Luke," he asked, "did you ever end up picking up Showcase Presents: Hawkman?  They have it here for five bucks."  I was silent on the other end.  Lots of thoughts passed through my mind very quickly.  'Am I really going to do this?  Take the leap and begin to follow and discover another character?  Can I afford to do that?  Can I afford not to?'  Needless to say I gave Adama the okay.  And the rest is (recent) history.  (And no, the irony of the fact that Adama is a Green Arrow fanatic is not lost on me.)

That brings us here -- from the humblest of beginnings to the full blown fanboy.  I hope that this has served to illustrate just why I am talking about Hawkman in all his incarnations, and why I am going to end up spending a pretty penny on the Aerial Lawman in the coming months and years.

If anyone has any thoughts to share on what they find attractive about the character, please post them as I would really like to hear them!

Image: JSA: The Return Of Hawkman Trade Paperback, 2002, Rags Morales.

5 comments:

rob! said...

like you, i always thought Hawkman's costume was totally cool, (although my version is the classic Silver Age one)

also, i loved that he was married to another superhero, who was, unlike that shrew Lois Lane and kinda boring Wonder Woman, a tough, feisty, funny redhead who could swing a mean mace. what's not to love?

i gave up on Hawkman during Hawkworld--i just couldn't follow what the hell was going on--and now i'm totally lost as to who he is now, what part of him is the Hawkman i remember, etc.

like i wish they'd do with Aquaman, i wish DC would do a sort of All-Star Hawkman and Hawkwoman, where its straightforward superhero adventures featuring husband and wife superheroes.

Adama said...

I think my favorite Hawkman moment, and what really sold me on the character, is the encounter he has with the newly resurrected Oliver Queen. They posture and glare at each other, and one offers to take it outside.

Everyone waits, and gets worried, afraid they've managed to kill each other, and go outside...

To find Carter and Ollie laughing it up and sharing a beer.

Lesson learned: politics shouldn't come between friends :)

Luke said...

rob! -- Considering how much you dig Mera, I cannot say I am surprised that you like Hawkgirl. You have a thing for fiesty redheads!

I think that Johns and Goyers did the best they could with what was already established in bringing Hawkman back. It's not perfect but it does streamline things quite a bit -- with the exception of Katar, of course. Hopefully what Starlin has up his sleeves will jive with anything Johns has planned and Hawkman will be much more accessible to the masses, be it archeologist adventurer or space-faring policeman.

Adama -- You had told me about that moment and I would like to see it at some point. Was that Carter or Katar, though? I was just reading the first trade paperback of the latest Hawkman series, and Green Arrow end up in St. Roch... and needless to say things become quite heated! It's par for the course in the DCU, but Hawkman has become angrier over the years, relying more on his brutishness than guile or wisdom.

Frank Lee Delano said...

I can tell you exactly when I became a Hawkman fan, and exactly when I stopped.

Alpha: Full page ad for the mid-80's "The Shadow War of Hawkman" mini-series, still one of my top five favorite house ads of all time. I've tried to avoid that territory at ...nurgh... out of respect for Rob's "Coming Super-Attractions," but that levy's gonna break sooner or later.

Omega: The gap between the next-to-last Hawkman series (black pants/ katar/natural wings) and the JSA relaunch. While the general consesus was that was the period where they let the stink of the Hawkworld continuity dissipate, I found what really cooled off was my interest in the character. I've never gotten over the replacement of Shiera/Shayera, either. Kendra doesn't cut it with me.

"Shadow War" is still a fun read, the series that followed less so. I had mixed feelings about the "Hawkworld" mini-series, but thought the ongoing was great, and I actually dug the convoluted continuity. The 90's "Hawkman" never... I'm so sorry for this... it just never got off the ground.

rob! said...

>>Considering how much you dig Mera, I cannot say I am surprised that you like Hawkgirl. You have a thing for fiesty redheads!<<

good catch, Luke, an entirely correct.

my first...um, SERIOUS girlfriend was a redhead. make of that what you will.