Hawkman is one of DC Comics’ most iconic characters first appearing in Flash Comics #1 back in 1940.
The character was created by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville.
In his first appearance in Flash Comics, it is revealed that Hawkman is the alter-ego of weapons collector and research scientist Carter Hall.
Not only is Hawkman Carter Hall, but Carter Hall is actually the reincarnation of a man named Prince Khufu. After receiving an ancient Egyptian knife from a man named Jim Rock, Hall falls asleep and has a dream where he relives the final moments of Prince Khufu.
In those final moments, it is revealed that Prince Khufu is fighting against the evil machinations of Hath-Set, a man intent on becoming the master of the globe.
Prince Khufu is unsuccessful in defeating Hath-Set and is captured and executed. However, after being stabbed in the chest by Hath-Set, Khufu reveals the Dying Prophecy saying, “I die – but I shall live again – as shall you, Hath-Set. And then I shall be the victor.”
After awakening from his dream, Carter Hall discovers that a rail line is being flooded with “millions of volts of electricity.” While going to investigate the rail line he runs into his ancient love, Shiera, who has also been reincarnated.
After saving Shiera, he brings her to his home and puts her to bed, and then dons his Hawkman garb. But it’s not just an outfit, the costume actually contains extraordinary powers and are “derived from Carter Hall’s discovery of the secret of the ages – the ninth metal – which defies the pull of the Earth’s gravity.”
He discovers the cause of the lightning attack on the rail line by using his Dynamo Detector. The device leads him to the laboratory of Doctor Hastor, who plans to rule the world with his lightning machine.
A battle ensues with Hawkman revealing some of the powers of his ninth metal costume. Specifically, it repels electricity. However, Hastor is able to escape while Hawkman attempts to destroy the lightning machine.
With Hawkman unable to find Hastor, it is revealed the villain is the reincarnated priest of Anubis, Hath Set. He flees to a temple and issues a summons to bring Shiera to his altar where she will be sacrificed like in ancient times. Fortunately, Hawkman discovers the ruse and is able to stop the sacrifice and put an arrow through Hastor’s chest.
By his second appearance in Flash Comics #2, Carter Hall and Shiera have become engaged and the two are already a well-oiled team as they take on the villainous Alexander the Great and his gravity machine that has the power to create earthquakes.
As he faces off against Alexander, Hawkman reveals more of his collection of Ninth Metal weapons including a net and a trident.
Unfortunately, he underestimates Alexander and is caught by surprise with a shot to the gut and placed under the rays of the gravity machine preventing him from moving.
Fortunately for Hawkman, Shiera rescues him by shutting off the machine, and Hawkman is able to defeat Alexander the Great.
Hawkman would continue his adventures taking on Russian scientists attempting to gain eternal life, an Arabian assassin cult leader trying to dominate the world, and Sheba the queen of the dessert, who sells off women and men as slaves.
By All-Star Comics #3, Hawkman would become a founding member of the Justice Society of America alongside The Flash, The Spectre, Doctor Fate, Hourman, The Sandman, The Green Lantern, and The Atom.
However, it wouldn’t be until All-Star Comics #4 where the team would actually work together to take on the enemies of America.
The team is tasked by the F.B.I. to take on a number of spies and saboteurs that have infiltrated the United States. An agent from the F.B.I. explains that these spies and saboteurs are taking advantage of America’s generosity and liberality.
Specifically the agent notes that newspapers are being threatened with bombings if they print the truth about totalitarian nations, munitions plants are being attacked with women and children the victims of the destruction, and spies are stealing defense secrets.
The agent goes on to detail that colleges are being infiltrated by “alien teachers and students, preaching hatred for democratic ideals.” In fact, these teachers and students are even preaching “that freedom is useless – outmoded!”
The agent goes on to detail that there are soapbox orators trying to stir up “class and race hatreds” as well. In fact, the agent concludes that all of this is being done by a “widespread, powerful organization” that is “at work in America plotting sabotage and revolution to pave the way for the dictator nations who seek to overcome us with fire and sword!”
The organization would be called The Fifth Column and they would face the full might of the Justice Society.
Hawkman’s mission would take him to California, where he was tasked with defending aviation plants from spies attempting to steal the designs of new American planes specifically the new Flying Fortress.
Hawkman would beat a number of the greyshirted spies to a pulp and would receive help from Shiera Sanders in discovering the identity of one of the ring leaders, Fritz Klaver, the creator of a gas used to attack a Flying Fortress.
In All-Star Comics #8, Hawkman would be promoted to the Justice Society’s leader by holding the position of Chairman. He would lead a team that included Johnny Thunder, The Sandman, The Atom, Doctor Fate, Dr. Mid-Nite, The Spectre, and The Starman.
The group would also see Superman, The Flash, Batman, and Green Lantern as honorary members.
Hawkman would abdicate his role of Chairman of the Justice Society and enlist in the United States Army where he is assigned to the Interceptor Coast Command and begins training to fly a United States Pursuit Plane.
He would eventually return to the Justice Society and continue his adventures until his last adventure in the pages of All-Star Comics #57 where he and the Justice Society worked to solve the mystery of the vanishing detectives.
However, as you might have noticed, his costume was changed. The first redesign occurred in the pages of Flash Comics #85, where his Hawk mask’s beak was removed.
In Flash Comics #98, his mask would be changed again into a basic yellow mask with a hawk symbol on his forehead.
In Adventure Comics #466 it would be revealed that Hawkman and the rest of the JSA would eventually retire after refusing to appear before the Joint Un-American Activities Committee, which demanded the heroes unmask themselves and reveal their identities.
Hawkman would be reimagined in The Brave and the Bold #34 as an alien policeman from the planet of Thanagar that had the ability to communicate with birds.
Instead of being Carter Hall, this new Hawkman was named Katar Hol and he arrived on Earth with his Shayera in pursuit of a shape-shifting criminal named Byth.
In their pursuit of Byth they would adopt the names Carter and Shiera Hall and become museum curators in Midway City.
The Katar Hol version of Hawkman would eventually join the Justice League of America in Justice League of America #31 and go on a number of adventures with the group.
The original or Golden Age Hawkman and Carter Hall would eventually return and it would be revealed his original adventures took place on Earth-2 in the pages of Justice League of America #21.
He and Shiera would eventually get married and have a son named Hector Hall, who initially took on the mantle of Silver Scarab.
Not only would Hawkman have a son, but he would also be the godfather to the hero Northwind as revealed in Infinity Inc. #1
Eventually Hawkman and Shiera as Hawkgirl are caught in an unending battle against Ragnarok as seen in the Last Days of the Justice Society of America special.
Doctor Fate explains, “Thus does it begin anew upon the plain of Vigrid below — that which the Norse called Ragnarok, the germans Gotterdammerung. Even without Power Girl and the Star Spangled Kid, the Justice Society will triumph — today, tomorrow, forever. Forever suffering — some of them forever perishing — yet always living again, atogether besting black-hearted Surtur in a victory in which the gods themselves would rejoice!”
Hawkman and the JSA would be saved when a superpowered tribe agrees to substitute themselves in the Ragnarok cycle.
Upon exiting the Ragnarok cycle, Carter Hall merges with Katar Hol, a hawk god creature, and all others “who have worn the wings — past, present and future, both here, and on Thanagar — are absorbed.”
This merging included Shiera Hall as seen in Zero Hour #3.
Later in Zero Hour #3 Waverider confirmed the merging stating, “Out of the chaos, all the Hawk timeline variants seem to have stabilized in him! He’s not just Katar Hol anymore, he’s–”
This new Hawkman would eventually lose his sanity and and be sent to the Hawk God’s Realm by Martian Manhunter and Arion the Immortal.
A new version of Hawkman would be resurrected by the High Priests of the Downsiders in order to defeat Onimar Synn and prevent him from enslaving Thanagar.
This version is Carter Hall and maintains his memories, but he also has the memories of Katar Hol as well. As revealed by one of the priests, Carter Hall’s soul was “trapped in the nether-realm.”
It’s unclear if this is a reference to the Hawk God’s Realm where the merged Hawkman was sent by Martian Manhunter and Arion the Immortal.
This resurrected Hawkman would eventually join the JSA and eventually take over as chairman leading the group against Black Adam and his takeover of Khandaq.
He would abdicate his chairman position and leave the JSA after failing in Khandaq. After leaving the JSA, he would participate in the Rann-Thanagar War and eventually become a member of the Thanagarian police force.
This version would go on to participate in Final Crisis, Blackest Night, and Brightest Day.
Hawkman would once again be reimagined during the DC Rebirth comic book line beginning with Dark Days: The Forge. Here he’s Carter Hall and has been reincarnated numerous times. Eventually he comes in contact with the dark god Barbatos and hits him with his mace.
It’s unclear what happens, but we are eventually shown a giant hammer-wielding hawk-like beast that claims it is Carter Hall, Dragon of Barbatos, Keeper of the Dark Forge.
Following the Dark Knights Metal event, it would be revealed that Carter Hall aka Hawkman actually reincarnates across time and space.
Not only that, but his past lives include a Kryptonian historian known as Catar-ol as well as the more recognizable Prince Khufu and Katar Hol of Thanagar.
And there you have the comic book origins of Carter Hall aka Hawkman.