Hawkworld Vol. 2 #10-32; Annual #2 (April ‘91-March ‘93)
Written by John Ostrander (#10-32, Annual #2)
Pencilled by Graham Nolan (#10-12, 14-19, 21-26), Tom Mandrake (#13), Gary Kwapisz (#20, Annual #2), Jan Duursema (#27-29), and Tim Truman (#30-32)
Inked by Gary Kwapisz (#10-12, 20, Annual #2), Tom Mandrake (#13), Graham Nolan (#14-19, 21), Rick Bryant (#22-25, 27-28), Carlos Garzon (#24), Tim Bradstreet (#26, 30-32), Bob Dvorak (#26), and Robert Jones (#29)
Spoilers (from twenty-two to twenty-four years ago)
John Ostrander got a good long run on this title. He co-wrote the first nine issues with Tim Truman, who wrote and drew the miniseries that rebooted Hawkman, Hawkwoman, and Thanagar for the post-Crisis era, and then wrote a further twenty-three regular issues, as well as three Annuals (I don’t own and haven’t read Annual #3 – I overlooked it when filling in gaps in my collection, and when I realized it, didn’t care enough to go get it. Maybe one day). He had lots of space and time to develop and resolve long-running plots (although not all of them), and for the most part, this run can be viewed as a cohesive and coherent corner of the tumultuous nineties.
Let’s look at the events of this series in detail, with some commentary as I go along:
- Shayera’s adoptive father, Thal Porvis, is concerned that his ex-wife is on Thanagar, and that Shayera is expected. He doesn’t want them to meet.
- On Earth, Katar is writing in his diary again. He tells us that the police were upset when he and Shayera stopped a car involved in a drive-by shooting, since they used too much force.
- Their PR man brings in another PR man to suggest new costumes for the Hawks, but it’s actually a joke, designed to shake them out of their melancholy (although I wish someone had addressed Katar’s mullet).
- Shayera learns that she is to escort a trade delegation from Earth to Thanagar, and to transport Byth, who is being kept in suspended animation. She leaves, but is sad to leave the Earth and Katar.
- In Chicago, Katar’s neighbour is still working to evict him because he is still providing housing to the woman who lost her apartment in Cabrini Green (even though we don’t see her anymore).
- Shayera lands on Thanagar and is surprised to see that Hawkmen now wear winged helmets, which were used only as an honorific when she left. She is also surprised to see that Kanjar Ro has climbed through the ranks of bureaucracy and is now an adjutant to Earth affairs.
- Shayera returns to her quarters, and is surprised by the presence of Hyanthis, her maternal grandmother. Shayera learns that her mother was the original Shayera Thal, the one that her adoptive father, Thal Porvis, named her after. As it turns out, the first Shayera was only thirteen when she had our Shayera, and the pregnancy was kept secret. After the birth, the baby was abandoned Downside, and Hyanthis divorced her husband and left the planet (she’s not Thanagarian, and so wasn’t able to take her daughter with her). After his daughter was killed, Thal found our Shayera and raised her.
- In Chicago, Katar trains with hand weapons, since people don’t like him using guns.
- At yet another fancy party, Katar meets Weng Chan (once known as Chop-Chop), one of the original Blackhawks, who wants to meet with him privately. Mavis, the museum worker, throws herself at Katar, but comes on too strongly for him.
- Chan is talking to one of his fellow Blackhawks about how they can best play Katar, when his conversation is interrupted by an old foe, Killer Shark.
- It seems he’s planted a bomb on a Blackhawk plane that is transporting a deadly nerve agent. If Chan doesn’t pay him a million Deutschmarks (ah, pre-Euro nostalgia), he will blow up the plane, which will kill millions.
- Chan calls in Katar, and together they hatch a plot to remove the bomb from the plane before it explodes. This involves some tricky flying, but they manage it, although Katar is caught in the blast when the bomb detonates in the air.
- Katar is knocked out, and his anti-gravity harness floats him up towards the edge of the atmosphere, but Chan figures out how to help with his airplane.
- On Thanagar, Shayera learns who her father is, but that information is kept from the reader. We can glean that it’s someone with a lot of influence, and Hyanthis convinces her to keep the knowledge to herself, for a time when she can use it.
- On Earth, Katar goes out for drinks with Chan and two female Blackhawks (including Lady Blackhawk from Birds of Prey? It’s not clear). Through this conversation, we learn that Katar is a virgin, and this leads to a very awkward segue into a discussion of the foundations of Thanagarian religion.
- This is turn segues into a meeting between the High Priests of Thanagar. One of their number is upset to learn that the new High Priest of the god Haarli is actually a priestess. He tasks his Raven (a secretive religious enforcer) with killing her.
- Shayera visits the clinic that Katar supports, to learn that it’s fallen on hard times. Treska, the woman we’ve been checking in on since the miniseries, has left and is being used as a symbol of oppression by a Downsider gang leader.
- We learn that the Priestess is working for Hyanthis, and that she used to be a prostitute. When Hyanthis leaves, she is attacked by the Raven and thrown off a balcony. Shayera is flying by and tries to save her, but is unsuccessful. She tries to catch the Raven, but he gets away.
- Downside, we meet the new Shadowlord (the guy who is running the gangs), and see that he is the same Raven.
- A group of businessmen working for the Sunderland corporation have an Iron Man style suit they call the Marauder. Since their contract with the government to build it has been cancelled, they decide to use it to destroy a bunch of buildings in New York as part of a complicated scheme to stop a hostile takeover scheme. It’s complicated.
- Katar is on a train to New York, where he meets Lorraine Reilly, also known as Firehawk. He pretends to be someone else (using his father’s Earth name) and they chat for a while. Reilly is on her way to NYC to meet her father and his new fiancée, while Katar is there on museum business.
- The Marauder begins to attack his targeted buildings, including the one where Reilly’s father and future stepmother are meeting.
- Katar talks about the inequality he sees in New York.
- Firehawk rushes to stop Marauder after seeing him on the news. He puts her down quickly, but is not able to finish her off before Katar shows up and attacks him.
- They fight, and just as Marauder is about to get the drop on Hawkman, Firehawk stops him. His corporate masters kill him via remote.
- Firehawk learns that her father has been killed, which is an odd thing to do to the character, since she wasn’t appearing regularly in any other book at the time (I’m pretty sure).
- On Thanagar, Shayera is given the runaround concerning the murder of the priestess. She’s told to falsify her report, and then overhears that there are plans to pin the murder on her grandmother.
- The Raven who is working as the Shadowlord of Downside is challenged by criminals who don’t accept his leadership, but he defeats them.
- In Chicago, Katar discovers that three Thanagarian relics representing gods from the religious system that was in control prior to the current system have been stolen.
- On Thanagar, Shayera goes hunting for Treska, the alien princess from Katar’s clinic.
- We learn that the people in charge of things on Thanagar are behind the Shadowlord’s plans, and that they intend to use the Downsider rebellion to their own ends. Tros, the Raven/Shadowlord, is somewhat conflicted, as he may have fallen in love with Treska.
- Shayera confronts Tros, but the fighting has already broken out. Most of the criminals are put down quickly, and Shayera saves the life of Andar Pul, the guy in charge of the Wingmen and, we learn, Shayera’s real father. She confronts him with this information as a way of clearing her grandmother of murder charges. Shayera also gives her grandmother the cold shoulder, and plans on returning to Earth.
- The delegation of Earth businessmen returns from Thanagar, and where Katar is expecting a new partner, he is pleased to see Shayera has come back.
- At yet another gala, Katar explains how the wingman harness and helmet work to affect flight to Weng Chan. Apparently he has to wear the helmet in order to fly, but I’m pretty sure we’ve seen otherwise (but I’m not going to flip through the back issues to check). Shayera and Chan then head off on their own, and Shayera makes a joke about Chan’s shortcoming, that when I think about it, is pretty racist.
- Katar chats with the neighbour who wants to get rid of him. The neighbour still wants to get rid of him.
- A bunch of ancient Thanagarian artifacts slight up, and a whole bunch of party guests find themselves possessed by the Celae, the ancient gods of Thanagar. Issues 15 & 16 tie in with the War of the Gods event, so this all has some context to it in light of the rest of the DCU at that time.
- Katar is able to fight off the influence of the god that tries to possess him, and goes to free the others, including Shayera, who is starting to transform physically.
- Katar convinces the leaders of this ancient pantheon that they should withdraw, since they are on the wrong planet. They agree, fixing the problem.
- Shayera is upset that she was possessed, and somehow believes that Wonder Woman is the source of this problem.
- The second War of the Gods tie-in opens with a five page sequence of Wonder Woman trying to get away from police who are chasing her in helicopters. This is used to make clear to the reader that WW is still doing good, and that the War of the Gods events are not entirely her fault.
- In Chicago, some federal agents try to recruit the Hawks to hunt down Wonder Woman. They are given carte blanche in doing this, and when the ambassador insists that the request come in writing, Shayera gets angry. This reveals that the two agents are actually working for Circe (who I vaguely remember was the big bad behind War of the Gods), and they turn into creatures and try to kill everyone. The Hawks and the police commissioner put them down.
- After that, the same request is made by other government agents who are not working for Circe, and the ambassador gets his written request. He’s not done pushing buttons though, and pisses Shayera off.
- They take their command ship to look for Diana. When they find her, Shayera attacks. After the requisite fight is broken up by Katar, the Hawks agree to help Diana get to Central City, mostly because Katar believes that Diana embodies the principals of the American Dream. Shayera likes that Diana calls her ‘sister’. From here, this story is finished in War of the Gods, which I’m not re-reading right now.
- One thing that really surprises me about DC Comics of the early 90s is how badly they marketed themselves. Once again, I had to guess at the placement of the Annual, because at no point in the regular series, beyond a house ad, is this Annual mentioned. You’d think, in the era of two-page letter columns, someone could plug a comic that ties in with the continuity.
- Anyway, the Annual is part of the Armageddon 2001 event, which has the main DC characters visited by Waverider, who uses his powers to figure out what they will be doing in ten years, and whether or not they will become the evil despot Monarch.
- The Hawks chase down and catch a metahuman called Ricochet, who has bouncing abilities. Apparently he’s a junkie, and he uses his powers to get money to buy drugs.
- The Hawks have new rocket packs which work with their wings to provide them more force. This fight is a bit of a shakedown for the rockets, and so they have some trouble working them. We learn that the rockets were built by Sunderland, the corporation we already know is evil, as a favour for Weng Chan, the Blackhawk.
- Shayera has a little cry over how much she misses Jonesy still.
- The Ambassador goes out for the night, and then Waverider comes to see Katar disguised as the Ambassador. He touches him, and takes a look at his future.
- In ten years, Katar is married to Mavis, who is running for congress, and has retired as Hawkman to work as a lobbyist for the poor. Frustrated by his wife’s handlers, he decides to rejoin Shayera in costume.
- This angers a woman named Julie, whose father once wore an armored suit and went by the name Attila. The suit absorbs Julie’s mind, and she goes after the Hawks, blaming them for her father’s death.
- During the fight, Katar’s mind gets absorbed by the suit. He considers using it to fix the planet Earth, but realizes that it would be the wrong path to take. He sends the suit into space and self-destructs, but returns to his body first. This proves to Waverider that Katar is never going to be Monarch.
- In an epilogue, some guy is lost in a desert somewhere, and then discovers the Attila suit.
- This scene is echoed in the beginning of issue 17 (proving that I slotted the Annual into the right space), as we see the same guy wandering the desert, hoping to receive religious wisdom or something.
- In Chicago, the Hawks are called upon to stop a terrorist group called Scorpion, who are fighting for Palestinian rights by taking an ‘el’ train hostage. The Hawks begin by separating the last cars on the train, and shooting the terrorists aboard each one. Shayera is shot, so Katar goes to the lead train on his own. He ends up fighting one of the guys on the subway track, and that guy gets electrocuted.
- Successfully stopping terrorists apparently makes your condo board like you, so the Thanagarians are able to continue living in their building, although that one guy is not happy about it.
- We see that Katar had a long conversation with the Scorpion leader, which now has Katar thinking (once again) about human rights, justice, and what he wishes could happen on Thanagar (where things are even worse than they are here on Earth).
- Back in the desert, we see that guy, George Crystal, has dug up the alien robot thing. It communicates with him telepathically, and we learn that it’s from the planet Aza, which was a peaceful, art-filled place. The Thanagarians wrecked the place and enslaved the populace, because they wanted their technology. The robot body, which is called a Voyager, used to explore the cosmos, was buried on Earth by its original owner, A’tla, in the hope that whoever finds it can keep it away from Thanagarians, or get revenge for his people, or something.
- George Crystal, now in control of the Voyager, now calls himself Attila, and vows to stop the wicked (which, we can assume, means Thanagarians).
- Since this series began, we’ve seen a rather annoying recurring character, a reporter, named Howard Baxter-Foote, who usually gets upset when someone calls him Howie. I’ve always assumed that this is an inside joke. Anyway, he’s usually in Chicago, but now he’s in St. Louis reporting on a protest outside an abortion clinic.
- Atilla shows up, talking about how abortion is wrong and against god’s law. He gives everyone a moment to leave the clinic, and then he destroys it.
- Shayera and Weng Chan discuss the morality of abortion, and how Shayera finds the Earth’s religious diversity exhausting.
- Shayera finds Katar trying to write a love poem for Mavis, and suggests that if he is having trouble with it, it’s because he’s not really into her. Doodling, Katar unconsciously draws a heart around Shayera’s name, and then gets mopey. Seriously.
- George Crystal (the guy inside the Attila armour) goes for a walk in the woods with his daughter. They talk about how he has cancer, and then he shows her the Attila suit, and tells her to look after his body while he goes to get revenge on the Hawks for the alien race that built Attila (but he won’t kill them, because he’s religious).
- Attila shows up in Chicago, calling out the Hawks, and demanding that they be exiled from Earth. When Katar shows up to try to reason with him, Atilla’s original owner’s commands override George’s wishes, and the suit attacks.
- Shayera tries to help in the fight, using the command ship. Attila damages the ship, and it flies into the lake and explodes. This upsets George Crystal, who is now having conversations with the Attila entity.
- Katar tells the police that there is a chance Shayera would still be alive in the ship, because the command module can separate.
- On Thanagar, we learn that Katar’s father’s cousin, Parvan Arvak is making a run for the position of High Mor, which I guess puts him in charge. He plans to build floating cities for the Thanagarians to live in (which I thought they already had in Truman’s miniseries), and to put all the Downsiders in bubbles under the oceans. He also intends to return Thanagar to its Viking-style past.
- Andar Pul is not happy about Parvan’s plans, especially since it will limit his power. He has the Wingmen attack the Shadowlord Tros, but he kills them.
- Back in Chicago, Shayera is rescued by the police as her vessel begins to sink. She risks herself to pull a weapon to destroy Attila out of the sinking ship.
- Attila gets into a debate about the rule of law and whether or not humans should protect Thanagarians, while Katar is given a Thanagarian gun harness, which will hopefully let him stop Attila.
- Attila gets George Crystal to agree to stop fighting him, so long as they only kill Katar and Shayera, and no one else.
- Katar and Attila fight, and end up wrecking an ‘el’ train. Katar stops fighting to save people, and George Crystal leaves Attila’s body, thereby immobilizing the device, which might be crying. For real.
- Shayera takes Katar back to Thanagar, because he was badly injured in the fight with Attila. She is worried that Earth doctors would not be able to help his Thanagarian self. She is also concerned because, while he was in pain, he kept yelling for Shayera, and not Mavis.
- On Thanagar, we learn that Thal Porvis, Shayera’s adopted father, has hired a two-headed criminal named Tarquin Zapristi to steal a ship, the Sirius, that has a nebula-drive (this means it is smaller than any other ship capable of hyperspace, because most of its mass is in another dimension). Tarquin Zapristi keeps one of his heads sedated, because it is moralistic and opposed to theft.
- In space, we learn that there is a group of bounty hunters called Hardocre, based on a space station called Sprocket. One of them is a Lobo-like character named Smif’Beau, who the rest of Hardcore can’t control. I could be wrong about this, but I think that Smif’Beau is a reference to the Green Lantern writer Beau Smith, and that there is a lot of humour at play in this comic that escapes me. The alternative is that this is the dumbest issue of Hawkworld ever.
- On Thanagar, Shayera gets some grief from bringing Katar back without permission. She plays the ‘daddy’ card.
- Smif’Beau shows up driving a flaming hot rod version of Lobo’s bike, and starts laying waste to the planet while looking for Tarquin Zapristi. The Wingmen are useless against him, so Shayera makes a deal with him, and then goes looking for Zapristi, finding him in her adopted father’s quarters. His good head has woken up, and the two are arguing with each other.
- Shayera knocks out the evil head, and then takes the criminal to Smif’Beau. The bounty hunter is annoyed that he didn’t negotiate for the Sirius as well, but leaves because he sticks to his own honour code (I wonder if Ostrander first tried to use Lobo in this story, and then wasn’t able to, so he had to create this dumb character as a stand-in).
- The Escape From Thanagar five-part arc launches with a flashback to Washington in 1952, when the Justice Society of America refused to unmask, and instead chose to retire. We learn that it was Perry Carter (aka Paran Katar, Katar Hol’s father) who arranged for them to teleport out of the Senate hearing, leaving them with the teleportation technology in case they ever returned to heroeing.
- Next, we turn to Thalrassa on Thanagar, where a group of Hawkmen are fighting the Shadowlord and his forces. Things look bad until a group of She-Hawks, the female of the Man-Hawk species (who, unlike the males, have human heads and torsos) arrive to rescue them all, slaughtering the Hawkmen.
- Next we turn to Katar, who is recounting his recurring nightmare to Shayera. He’s mostly recovered from his injuries though, and they both express a wish to return to Earth, which Shayera figures she can make happen by leaning on her biological father.
- After Shayera leaves, Hyanthis, her maternal grandmother, appears, to tell Katar about how his father was killed as part of a conspiracy (which, I’m sure, Katar knows, seeing as he was the one who killed him).
- Shayera pays a visit to her old barracks, only to learn that her former compatriots resent her and anyone with noble blood, and believe that the only good leader Thanagar ever had was Byth. Shayera learns you can’t go home again.
- In a raid on the clinic that Katar always supported, the alien princess Treska, girlfriend to the Shadowlord, is captured. Others are slaughtered in front of her.
- A flashback to ‘not so long ago’ shows two people dressed like the original Hawks stopping a boatload of drug smugglers. Afterwards, the Martian Manhunter confronts them, accusing them of not being Carter and Shiera Hall. The man reveals himself to be Carter Hall Jr. (this is the time period where the original JSA were lost in time/limbo).
- In the present, We see that the Attila suit is under federal lock and key. We also see that the Thanagarian ambassador is determined to get the suit from the US Government, which is reluctant to hand it over.
- On Thanagar, Katar learns from Hyanthis that Andar Pul and Thal Porvis were working with Byth when he planned to have Katar’s father killed. Katar can’t figure out Hyanthis’s angle in telling him. She also suggests that he go to his medical clinic.
- Shayera confronts her two fathers (bio- and adoptive). Her new orders are to return to Earth with a different Wingman, who will pose as Katar, and retrieving the Attila suit by any means necessary.
- Katar goes to the clinic, and gets into a big fight with a group of Hawkmen and Wingmen who were waiting to hatch an ambush. This fighting tips off the Shadowlord’s forces, who attack, but are in turn attacked by more Wingmen.
- Eventually, Katar and Tros Samoth emerge victorious. Katar pledges to help the various Downsiders gathered under Tros, and quotes the American Revolutionaries.
- A flashback to the Invasion! event (which I retro-reviewed here) shows Hawkman and Hawkwoman in the JLI embassy in Australia during the invasion of other worlds, including Thanagar. We learn that the man who identified himself as Carter Hall Jr. in the last issue is actually Fel Andar, a Thanagarian on a secret mission. He tries to kill Sharon, his human wife, who escapes through the teleportation tube to wherever Martian Manhunter and Amanda Waller are hanging out. She tells them about him, and then dies from her injuries. Later, Max Lord decides to sweep this whole story under the rug.
- It’s interesting to me that DC would retcon such a recent event, but this helps clear up the last continuity issues surrounding this series and its new approach to the Hawks.
- In the present, on Thanagar, a new Shadowlord meets with some Lizardkonss, working to get them to band together with other Downsider races in an effort to overthrow Thanagarian oppression. They agree, especially once they’ve been given a number of Wingman wings and harnesses. The Shadowlord spouts a lot of philosophy and theology that runs parallel to the ideals that America is built upon. Later, we learn that Katar has taken on the Shadowlord role, with the support of Tros Samoth.
- In space, Shayera is on her way to Earth with her new partner, Fel Andar. We learn very quickly that he hates Earth and humans, and that he doesn’t trust Shayera.
- On Thanagar, we see that Princess Treska, her baby, and Dr. D’Shar are being left on the ledge of a mountain in an effort by the Wingmen to capture Tros Samoth. Katar and Tros go undercover as Hawkmen, sabotaging equipment, while their allies attack. They are able to rescue their friends.
- Andar Pul and Thal Porvis are upset that their plans are falling apart. They learn that the Shadowlord’s forces have attacked a food depot, and Pul suits up to go fight.
- In the battle, Katar (as the Shadowlord) stops some of the Manhawks from killing Wingmen who have surrendered.
- Pul gets Bladebat to figure out where the rebels are hiding out. He listens in as Katar tells the plans to the leader of the Manhawks. Katar leaves Tros in charge, while Bladebat relays info to his new masters.
- Shayera arrives on Earth with Fel Andar. They are met by the media and by Mavis, so Fel takes off, leaving it to Shayera to try to get Mavis out of the picture. She tells Mavis that she married Katar on Thanagar, but Mavis just laughs it off.
- We learn that the Attila armour is being transferred to STAR Labs in Chicago. The professor in charge of the research into the alien suit is the great nephew of Johnny Cloud, the Navajo pilot from the Losers.
- Back in their apartment, Fel forces Shayera to kick Anna and her son Micah out of their apartment (I’d forgotten that they lived there). Micah, who has never spoken before, points out to his mother that Fel is not Katar.
- On Thanagar, the Wingmen prepare to attack, while Katar shows up, in his Hawkman garb, at Thal Porvis’s place. Porvis appears to be worried about Shayera.
- The Lizardkons discover Bladebat, and bring him to Tros, who shoots him. At this point, the Wingmen attack. While this is happening, Pul is filling the underground tunnels with fuel, and intends to fry everyone.
- Thal Porvis makes clear to Katar that Shayera is in danger, and suggests he steals the Sirius, the ship with special hyperspace capability, from him. When a Wingman comes to report on the fight with the Downsiders, Porvis accuses Katar of theft, securing his own innocence.
- Apparently the ship runs on a sentient AI, kept in check with a control rod. Katar refuses to use it, quoting Abraham Lincoln, thereby freeing the AI, which now wants to be Katar’s friend.
- The fight continues underground, and it looks like the Downsiders are winning, so Andar Pul moves forward with his plan to torch everything. Katar arrives and begins leading everyone to the Sirius, which can also change its shape.
- The ship, loaded with refugees, now jumps to Earth in order to rescue Shayera from Andar Fel, who has plans to kill her.
- Fel and Shayera are escorting the Attila suit to STAR Labs, and Fel intends to kill everyone and steal the suit for himself. Shayera tries to stop him, but gets shot and knocked down. Just as Fel is about to fire a finishing shot, Katar clubs him from behind with a mace.
- Ten days later, we learn that Katar and Shayera have broken ties with Thanagar (although I don’t know where the Ambassador has gotten to). Earth has granted them asylum, and their publicist has gotten them new uniforms, that are a lot more superhero and less militaristic. We also learn, in passing, that the various Downsiders are also with them on Earth.
- After the Escape From Thanagar arc, Ostrander takes an issue to wrap up some plotlines, which coincides with Graham Nolan’s departure from the book.
- On Thanagar, we learn that Andar Pul’s plan to burn out the Downsiders has left the city of Thalrassa at risk, as the fire continues to burn. Paran Arak uses this to his own advantage, putting down both Pul and Thal Porvis.
- In Earth orbit, Katar and Shayera decide to rob the Thanagarian vessel that is about to leave, taking anti-gravity harnesses, shadow field generators, and medical supplies to help them in their exile. Katar has a talk with the Ambassador, who decides to let them take whatever they want, as he claims he has no grudge with them.
- Later, the Ambassador arranges for Shadow Thief to be freed from Belle Reve, so he can sneak into STAR Labs and steal the Attila device.
- STAR has D’Shar, one of the refugees with Katar, whose race designed the traveller devices, attempt to link with it. He is unable to rewrite its anti-Thanagarian programming, but he makes it safe for Katar and Shayera to be around it. Katar lies about whether or not humans other than the one from before can use it, as he has plans to steal it and hide it so its power cannot be used again.
- On the Sirius, the various refugees decide to leave Earth aboard that ship, looking for other homes. Katar decides that they should leave quickly, and that he will then use shadow field generators to steal Attila while Weng Chan pretends to be him and goes on patrol with Shayera. This way, the theft will be blamed on the refugees.
- Katar breaks into STAR Labs at the same time as Shadow Thief, and they fight.
- Katar is able to get away with Attila. The refugees leave off-panel. Weng Chan goes away on business. Katar and Shayera hug.
- At the beginning of the six-issue arc Flight’s End, we meet White Dragon, who interferes when the Hawks chase a bunch of guys with drugs and guns in their car. The Hawks no longer use firearms (it’s an image thing, we’re told), so are having a hard time stopping the car. The Dragon jumps in with a flame sword, stopping the car, and cutting the hand off one of the gunmen. Katar stops him from killing them.
- When the press interviews the White Dragon, he makes a point of emphasising that he is “a true-born American”.
- Later, in a conversation with the police superintendent and a DA, we learn that the Dragon has been targeting minority criminals, and has been rather forceful in his dealings with them. The DA wants the Hawks to trail him and take pictures of him, but Katar feels that the White Dragon is working within his rights, and gets angry. He and Shayera argue, and he storms off.
- The White Dragon attacks a gang called the Al Sikhs, a group of black gangsters who wear turbans (remember, the book is condemning the Dragon for being racist, but this portrayal of young African-American men is okay in someone’s mind).
- When the Dragon leaves the scene, Shayera follows him, and she is in turn followed by Katar. When she finally sees him without his armor on, Shayera swoops in to get a good photo (against instruction) and the guy bursts into flame and attacks her.
- Katar swoops in to save the day, and they all fight for a bit. Katar finally knocks the Dragon out, but is upset with the way Shayera chose to conduct herself.
- It’s worth noting that Jan Duursema is drawing the Hawks’ wings at all sorts of different lengths, going for a bit of a 90s extreme thing.
- We see in a flashback that Carter and Shiera Hall have returned to the present time, having been freed by Waverider (I think that was in Zero Hour, right?) from their extra-dimensional exile. Upon returning, they meet with Katar and Shayera, who at this point are still in their Thanagarian outfits, and Carter does not like learning that Katar killed his own father, who was Carter’s friend. In the present, Carter and Shiera are in Chicago, and in an interview, Carter suggests that he’s okay with the Hawks taking on his persona, provided that they are ‘worthy’.
- The Thanagarian ambassador meets with a presidential advisor to discuss the return of the Hawks to Thanagar to face trial. The ambassador is packing up the embassy, and sees this as one of his last duties. He offers Thanagarian flight tech in return.
- In Chicago, the Hawks meet with the police superintendent and the DA to discuss the fact that White Dragon is getting away with his crimes, because of the way in which Shayera apprehended him.
- Some woman named Mustang Suzy, who is half woman, half motorcycle, and all gilded, is driving around Chicago beating on parked cars. Katar tries to stop her, but is in turn stopped by her friends, who we learn have names like Lefty, Null and Knowbuddy. Officer Lencioni, the Hawks’ friend, tells Katar that these guys are from Netherworld, a part of Chicago that the police don’t go to anymore. Katar, predictably, thinks that laws should be applied universally, and gets annoyed.
- At home (which, I guess is still Weng Chan’s home, since they aren’t in their condo), Katar declares his love for Shayera, and they kiss, and then get a phone call from the superintendent.
- At police headquarters, the police try to take the Hawks into custody in order to hand them over to Thanagar. They fight, and it’s clear that the superintendent never actually intended to arrest them, hence the rooftop meeting.
- This still ends up on the news, and that upsets Carter Hall, who decides to go to Chicago (although I thought he was already there).
- Katar talks about the law again.
- The Halls show up in Chicago, looking to take in the Hawks. They catch up to them, and fight. Katar refuses to fight back, until he sees Carter attack Shayera. They sort of get their message across that if they go to Thanagar, they will be killed, and Carter lets them leave.
- We learn that the White Dragon had been outfitted by a company called Metatech, which is run by the guy who used to run Sunderland (I’d wondered if we’d ever see that company again). The Dragon has been spouting off racist nonsense in the media, and has managed to gain some traction. He has a plan to destroy Cabrini Green, by claiming that the Hawks were hiding in it.
- Katar and Shayera return to their apartment and tie up the ambassador. They learn about what Thanagar was going to give to Earth for their return.
- They fly to Cabrini Green to stop White Dragon when he attacks. They get assistance from the original Hawks and are able to defeat the Dragon. The two Hawk factions make peace with each other. Katar and Shayera decide to hide out in Netherworld, while Carter will see what he can do to help them. Shiera really doesn’t do much ever, does she?
- Katar and Shayera go to Netherworld, an area near where the slaughterhouses used to be, ostensibly to look for Jonesy’s sister, Jackee, also known as Zululu. After a brief tussle with a guy with multiple arms, they find her, and let her know that her brother is dead. She asks for money for drugs.
- The Hawks meet up with a guy named Knowbuddy (who keeps working that phrase into his speech, you know, buddy?). He explains the scene – it’s made up of a few different groups – there are people who received powers when the metabomb went off at the end of Invasion! (the Phreaks), there are the Nasties, sentient tattoos that take over host bodies, and there are the Hairballs, regular people who take a drug of the same name that slowly turns them into feral werewolf-like creatures. Zululu is a Hairball.
- We also learn that someone named Viper is trying to take over Netherworld.
- Mustang Suzy attacks Katar, but this is interrupted when everyone starts hunting Zululu, because she’s turned feral. Katar rescues her from a crowd that wants to kill her.
- Katar locks himself in a room with Zululu, thinking he can help cure her of her addiction through Thanagarian prayer and meditation. This works. It’s not clear what Shayera does during all the time he’s locked away.
- So now Zululu is calling herself Fer Alyce (or Feralyce – the space seems arbitrary), and has retained her feral shape, but is mostly in control of herself. Katar is training her to fight. Knowbuddy pushes her for information on where she got the Hairball drug, but she won’t help him. She will, however, help Katar, so the end result is the same.
- In Turkey, we see that the old Indian man last seen in Hawkworld Annual #1 (called the Fakir then) has been training a new American prisoner, Jack T. Craig, to build an instrument that will give him psionic powers, like he did for the Fiddler in the Golden Age.
- When Craig turns on him, the guy reveals that he is really Count Viper, an undying entity that can shift his consciousness into new bodies (and, somehow, turn them into his old body).
- He developed his powers in France a long time ago, and used them to help George Washington win the Revolutionary War, because he was attracted to American ideals. He then tried to do the same during the French Revolution, but was beheaded (which is when he learned how to body jump). Now, he wants control of the Netherworld, and has spent ages training Craig, now called the Thrasher, to help him, although the reason why is not particularly clear.
- The Thanagarian ambassador goes to the White House to meet his contact, only to learn that that guy has been fired, and that the Americans are now going to protect the Hawks from Thanagar. He promptly asks for asylum.
- The Hawks, Fer Alyce, and Knowbuddy go looking for the Hairball dealer, but are interrupted by the arrival of Count Viper and his new partner. Viper enters Katar’s head, while a whole bunch of mutated Netherworlders attack Shayera.
- Katar has a philosophical discussion with Count Viper while fighting him off, rejecting his plans for America. He breaks free of his psionic control, and he and Shayera fight their way out of the bar they are all in. Null sits and watches all this.
- The Hawks split up. Shayera decides to go after Count Viper, because she has a gun, while Katar is to take out Thrasher, who is controlling everyone else with his powers.
- Katar finishes off Thrasher and goes to help Shayera. She is hit by a mental blast from Viper, and appears to be dead. Katar yells, and leaves her on a rooftop while going after her killer. A bunch of guys in doctor’s outfits and green masks come and take her body away.
- Katar fights Viper, but Null, who is not much of a character, wanders around talking about how all this violence isn’t random, and telekinetically tosses a tow truck through a wall, pinning down Viper, and severing a gas line. Katar flees.
- Viper sends his consciousness into another body just before the building explodes. The explosion catches Katar in its blast.
- Viper discovers that he is inside a Hairball who is going feral, and has a hard time maintaining control.
- We see that Katar is lying on the ground, injured and possibly dead.
- And that’s the end of the series.
The ending is an abrupt one, and in a lot of ways, it’s easier to imagine this series having ended with issue 26, when artist Graham Nolan departed, and when Ostrander resolved a few dangling plotlines. After that, the Flight’s End arc felt jarringly different. I think a lot of the reason for that lies with the departure of Mike Gold as editor, and the arrival of Archie Goodwin, who is a legendary name at DC, but I would argue, the wrong choice for this title. More on this, and the way in which the title was relaunched when I start reading Hawkman, the relaunched title, for my next column.
Ostrander’s writing in this book has stayed sharp throughout. In addition to wanting to craft a large and sweeping saga about Thanagar, and the struggle for freedom among its lower classes, is a biting critique of America in the early 90s. Ostrander calls out the casual racism, classism, and dishonesty of that time. Often, he speaks through Katar, who has an immigrant’s love for the American Dream, although at times the book feels a little preachy.
Shayera is by far the more interesting of the two Hawks. Her quick temper keeps her interesting to read about, and she frequently propels the story. The growth of the relationship between the Hawks is handled nicely (although Mavis, Katar’s paramour just disappears), as we see them move from distrust to love. Oddly, Ostrander had Katar declare his status as a virgin while having dinner with Wang Chen and two women, but that never gets addressed again after he and Shayera declare their love for one another. Did they consummate? Would a series made today leave that detail out?
Over the course of this series, especially in the excellent Escape From Thanagar arc, Ostrander works to correct the continuity issues inherent in this reboot. We learn that Carter and Shiera Hall were in the Justice League, and that a Thanagarian posed as their son while working with the Justice League International. With so much attention paid to continuity details, it’s curious that this run left some plotlines unresolved. These include:
- Kanjar Ro was established as Katar’s ‘sparrow’ on Thanagar, working to help the Downsiders. We saw him go behind Katar’s back and ingratiate himself with the ruling class, and get promoted to a more important government job. And then we never saw him again. This guy was a major Justice League villain pre-Crisis, and I wonder if there weren’t actual plans for his character at some point.
- Anna and her son Micah were brought from their burned-out apartment in Cabrini Green to live with the Hawks, but after Micah figured out that Andar Fel was not Katar, we never saw them again. They were useful in helping Katar figure out the classism of his neighbours, but we never saw what happened to them.
- Sunderland Corporation, and then later Metatech, were built up as major corporate adversaries, but they kind of just disappeared too. I don’t know why there was a business trip to Thanagar, if that was never followed up upon.
- Remember when Shayera was sort of working as a Chicago cop? Yah, I don’t think any of them remember that either, as it just stopped being discussed. Likewise the Thanagarian exhibit at the Museum.
One thing that was very nice about rereading this series was watching Graham Nolan’s art improve over a length of time. In my last column, I’d complained that the covers on this book were very poorly designed, but that did not stay true. I especially liked the trade dress used for the Escape From Thanagar arc.
Jan Duursema’s art was a bit of a surprise. I’m used to her work with Ostrander on Star Wars Legacy, but it was the nineties, and she was still pretty new, so I’ll forgive it. Tim Truman’s art was, of course, very nice, and it’s fitting that he got to finish the series he started.
I enjoyed reading these comics, mostly for the first time, as my collection of this title was very spotty. I liked that the book was not really a superhero comic, and that Katar and Shayera did not engage in typical heroics. Their interaction with the rest of the DC Universe was slight, even when they got roped into events like War of the Gods. This was much more of an idea book than DC’s line was at this time, and that makes this a unique read.
As much as the series felt like it was floundering after the Hawks were exiled from Thanagar, I don’t really understand the wisdom in rebooting it (especially since Ostrander was not going to be long for the relaunched title, and consequently, neither was I). We’re going to be taking a look at those issues in my next column.
If you are interested in my earlier Hawkworld columns, they can be found here:
Volume 1 (Tim Truman mini-series)
Volume 2 #1-9 (John Ostrander and Tim Truman run)
Tags: Hawkworld, Retro Reviews