Speculation: Hawkman Special, Final Crisis, and Beyond
This speculation contains minor spoilers for Final Crisis #7, as well as the Hawkman Special from this past October, and speculation about upcoming DC stories.
Strange things seem to be afoot in the DCU in regards to the Winged Wonder. Between what Jim Starlin has been doing on the cosmic side of things and what Grant Morrison just threw down in the finale of Final Crisis, it seems that another sea change is at hand for Hawkman (and possibly Hawkgirl), and as a comic book fan I am contractually obligated to speculate on what it all means.
For those not caught up, in the Hawkman Special by Jim Starlin, cosmic know-it-all The Demiurge told Hawkman that his history as the reincarnated pharoah of Egypt was a lie, grafted onto his actuality by the "crisis." He showed him a vision of his death and called him Katar Hol.
In Final Crisis #7, while the supercomputer Lord Eye attempted bridge to another Earth begins to collapse(and people say Starlin's stuff is convoluted!), the Hawks jump in and shatter him, saving everyone on the bridge but seemingly dying a fiery death in the process. At least, I think that is what happens; Final Crisis #7 is very confusing, due in no small part to Morrison's "channel zapping" storytelling method.
Anyway, after reading Final Crisis, I reread the Hawkman Special, and, combined with what we know about where the DCU is going this year, I have a working theory on what the heck is going to go down.
In the Special, the Demiurge tells Hawkman that both his past and future is an open book to him, to which Hawkman replies "You saying we know each other from the future?" Demiurge replies "But not as you presently are." Later, after shattering the illusion of Hawkman's time as Prince Khufu, the Demiurge gives him a glimpse of the future, which features his own burning death, as well as Kendra wearing a black uniform. In Final Crisis, while apparently inside a bridge between parallel Earths, Hawkman and Hawkgirl are immolated in the explosion of Lord Eye.
So, my thought is that Hawkman and Hawkgirl die while destroying Lord Eye. The souls of Carter Hall and Shiera Hall, humans, return to their normal place of order on Earth-2 through the inter-multiversial bridge and are reborn. The body of Katar Hol (remember, the modern Hawkman has reborn into Katar's body, hence his dark hair) is now no longer connected to the soul of Carter Hall, and through some Thanagarian mumbo-jumbo Katar Hol is reborn into his old body. Kendra Saunders, no longer having Shiera's soul in her body, dies, only to be resurrected this summer as a Black Lantern.
So on New Earth/Earth-0/whatever the heck the main DCU is, we have Katar Hol, a Thanagarian, wearing the wings and fighting the evils of the present, etc etc etc. Hawkgirl's corpse is reanimated by whatever the heck is reanimating the Black Lanterns and returns to plague the cosmos. Over on Earth-2, Carter and Shiera Hall have high flying adventures with the other members of the Justice Society Infinity.
All in all, it's a pretty good solution, as speculation of this type tends to be. It does not invalidate anything which Johns and Robinson did in JSA or Volume 4, it just shifts that character over to Earth-2. And it restores what Dan DiDio refers to as the most "definitive" version of Hawkman, the Space Cop (we had a whole discussion of that topic over here) to the main DCU. And it provides this new Hawkman with an "in" to the next big DCU event by resurrecting his partner/quasi-love interest as a Black Lantern. Gotta say I even impressed myself!
Is this a little too obvious? Maybe. But sometimes the obvious thing is the right thing to do. I think it's pretty plain that Starlin (or perhaps his editor) wants to use Katar Hol in the cosmic stories. And this method does it with only a modicum of hand-waving and really does offer a clean slate from which to work with -- Hawkman is Katar Hol, former Wingman of Thanagar, who was killed and brought back to life. Pretty straight forward (at least, when leaving out the details).
Will this come to pass? We'll find out at some point. But for now I can speculate to my heart's content, and hope against all nerd-hope that DC listens to my inane ravings.