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Unearthing Hawk and Dove

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As the Blackest Night spreads across the DC Universe, Broken Frontier unearths the histories of several of the key players in the event. 

Spoiler warning:  Read no further if you’ve not had a chance to dig into your most recent Blackest Night titles…

The duo of Hawk and Dove made their debut in DC’s “tryout” book, Showcase (#75, June 1968) under the guidance of co-creators Steve Ditko and Steve Skeates.  The sons of a fair and impartial judge, Hank and Don Hall were diametrically opposed.  The bookish Don was an avowed pacifist and liberal, while the athletic Hank was more conservative and hot-headed.  Despite their differences, the two brothers worked together when their father was targeted by a local mobster.  Captured by the mobster's goons (who were on their way to kill Judge Hall), the Hall brothers were addressed by a mysterious disembodied voice promising them whatever type of power they need to save their father.  Transformed into Hawk and Dove, Hank was imbued with the raw power to defeat the goons, while Don gained the speed and agility to prevent harm from befalling any of the family.  The voice further explained that the duo could switch back and forth by stating their superhero names, but they must be close to each other, and in immediate danger.  After saving their father, the two disagreed on whether or not to continue adventuring, but the text page made the answer pretty clear (with the announcement of a new title debuting the next month).

The Hawk and the Dove launched with a cover date of September 1968, picking up not long after their first adventure.  Denounced by their father (who was unaware of his sons’ dual identities), the duo appeared doomed – Hank was more than eager to continue as a crime-smasher, while Don vowed never to become Dove again.  When Hawk found himself overwhelmed by a gang of crooks, Dove eventually returned, using his speed to tire out the criminals.  The series continued in this fashion, as Ditko and Skeates (and later Gil Kane) played with the two extremes of the characters, trying to find a pleasant balance between an offish, foolish Hawk and a wimpy, indecisive Dove.  Despite a brief crossover with the Teen Titans (The Hawk and the Dove #5, May 1969 and Teen Titans #21, June 1969) the concept title never took root with fans.  The Hawk and the Dove ended its short run with issue #6 (July 1969) with the heroes suddenly vowing to give up their costumed identities.

Taking Flight Once More

As it turns out, the Hall brothers did stay true to their vow – sort of.  They resurfaced in the pages of Teen Titans #25 (February 1970), joining the team as the group took a vow to surrender their costumed identities and powers, embarking on careers as teenaged super agents.  As part of this “new and improved” Teen Titans, Hank and Don stood around in the background, appearing only slightly less forgettable than the rest of the group.  By Teen Titans #28 (August 1970) everyone started getting back in costume, just in time for Hawk and Dove to leave the book following issue #29 (October 1970 – although they did have a brief back-up tale in #31, February 1971). 

Hawk and Dove made a few brief appearances several years later in a revival of the Teen Titans series.  Reunited as part of the Titans West (Hank had enlisted in the Navy and Don went off to college), Hawk and Dove enjoyed a handful of adventures in issue #50-52 (October-December 1977).  Besides some background appearances in Showcase (#100, May 1978) and Tales of the Teen Titans (#50, February 1985) Hawk and Dove only made one other appearance before Crisis on Infinite Earths (the non-canon “final” adventure of the duo in The Brave and the Bold #181, December 1981). 

  

Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986), of course, made significant changes to Hawk and Dove.  The duo fought alongside the assembled heroes against the nihilistic Anti-Monitor’s forces of evil, with a climactic battle against the shadow demons in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12.  Spotting a child caught in the chaos, Dove sprung into action, saving the child, but leaving his back exposed.  Don Hall was struck down from behind, dying instantly.  Hank was too far away, and was forced to watch his brother’s death, unable to prevent it.  Hawk was not seen at his brother’s funeral, although he did pop up occasionally in New Teen Titans, Firestorm, Booster Gold and other titles (including a spotlight feature in Teen Titans Spotlight #7 & 8, February-March 1987).  In each subsequent appearance, Hawk tended to be acting more extreme and violent, becoming a liability to even his allies.

Hawk returned in 1988 with the 5-issue Hawk and Dove series.  Taking a more balanced approach to the over-all character concepts, creators Karl Kesel, Barbara Kesel and Rob Liefeld introduced a mysterious new female Dove as a foil and later, partner for Hawk.  Set around Georgetown University (where Hank had been enrolled by his father), the series introduced the concept that Hawk and Dove were embodiments of Chaos and Order (allowing each character to subscribe to some of Ditko and Skeates original traits, but in a more rounded manner).  Although the series did feature the debut of Hawk and Dove’s arch-foe, Kestrel, the bulk of the title dealt with Hank trying to uncover the identity of the new Dove (Dawn Granger followed in Don Hall’s footsteps – the character’s name a clever example of hiding the answer in plain sight).

The duo returned in June 1989 with a new ongoing Hawk and Dove series.  Building on the new thematic pieces from the 1988 mini and a one-shot appearance in Secret Origins #43 (August 1989), the series explored the relationships between Hawk and Dove, Order and Chaos and, of course, Hank and Dawn.  Tying together a plot point from the original The Hawk and the Dove series, readers finally learned that the disembodied voice represented a union of two Lords of Chaos and Order speaking, and that the ultimate destiny of Hawk and Dove was to result in the birth of Unity. 

Armageddon

Despite having a strong cult-following, Hawk and Dove would not survive for long.  The final few issues of the series saw Hank manipulated into becoming a criminal (believing he could resurrect his late brother) and eventually being put on trial for his crimes.  Barred by the justice system to ever become Hawk again, Hank and Dawn both retired from superheroics, united with each of their romantic interests (Hawk and Dove #28, October 1991).  Shortly after the series finale, Hawk and Dove Annual #2 was released as an epilogue.  Part of the DC Universe crossover, Armageddon 2001, the annual featured several possible futures for Hawk and Dove – one of which spotlighted their daughter, Unity, confronting the villain of the crossover, Monarch.

As has been well-documented elsewhere, Hawk and Dove’s further involvement in Armageddon 2001 #2, came as a result of the original reveal of Monarch’s identity leaking to the comic-reading public.  Several quick rewrites to the series finale, saw Monarch from the future arrive in the present day, kidnap Hawk and Dove and murder Dawn before Hank.  Driven mad by the death of a second partner (and losing the balancing influence of her), Hawk savagely beat Monarch to death.  Removing Monarch’s mask, Hawk found an older version of himself.  Completely unhinged, Hawk took up Monarch’s identity for himself and embarked on a new career of super-villainy.  By the time Zero Hour (1994, in which he teamed with the Parallax-possessed Hal Jordan) arrived, Hank Hall took on another new identity, the time-traveling Extant.  During the course of that arc, Hall murdered several of the founding members of the Justice Society of America, an action that he would eventually pay for in JSA #15 (October 2000).  Extant died as a result of a confrontation with the new Justice Society, putting an end to his madness.  Rather than be remembered solely as a megalomaniac, Hank Hall was laid to rest under his own name and a tribute to Hawk was added alongside the one to his brother.  

  

Unfortunately, it seemed that Hank and Don Hall were not to have their rest yet, as the two were raised as zombies by Brother Blood in Teen Titans #31 (February 2006).  Thanks to the involvement of Raven and Kid Eternity, the brothers Hall once again returned to the arms of death.

Last week in Blackest Night #2, events once again intruded upon the “eternal” slumber of Hank and Don Hall.  As many of the deceased in the DC Universe have been, a black power ring sought out and raised Hawk as a Black Lantern (with DC’s November solicitations showing him as part of the Black Lantern Titans' attack on the current Teen Titans).  More interesting than this, was the efforts to raise Don Hall from the dead.  As in previous cases, a black ring called out for “Don Hall of Earth” to “rise”…or, at least, attempted to.  Several rings were seen unable to penetrate an invisible aura around Dove’s grave, each time their command to “rise” cut off by the statement “Don Hall of Earth at peace.”

As the first case of the black power rings failing to raise the dead as a Black Lantern, message boards across the internet have been buzzing as to what makes Dove the exception to the rule.

Is it the selfless nature of his death?  His ties to the Lords of Order?  Or something more..?

 

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Comments

  • CA3

    CA3 Aug 27, 2009 at 8:01am

    Well, this is shaping up to be a very bizarre storyline.

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