Monday, June 23, 2014

YEAR 1961: HAWKGIRL




To the best of my knowledge the 1960s version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl-- a Silver Age of two Golden Age characters-- were the first married superhero couple in the comic-book medium. In this medium marriage of any kind was usually verboten for costumed characters-- and most adventure-characters of any genre-- so beginning a series with a married pair of crimefighters was somewhat radical. I've always thought that the marriage of the Hawks denoted the settled lives of the authors and editors who created them, all of whom were over 40 in 1961.

When comic-book historians complain about the lack of vivid heroines in the 1960s, they usually dismiss Hawkgirl as a mere shadow of her male partner-- not least because the franchise, debuting in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #34, was named "HAWKMAN."  This could be fairly said of many "-girl" sidekicks, not least the Hawkgirl of the Golden Age-- but not Shayera Hol, wife of Katar.  The premise established a strong sense of equality between the team-mates: both were accredited police officers of the alien world Thanagar, equally adept with advanced technology and good at battling evildoers.  As to why Thanagarian cops tended to fly around with artificial wings and anti-gravity devices, Gardner Fox supplied the usual SF-rationales, which were of less importance than the kinetic pleasures of flying superheroes.
 
Unfortunately the HAWKMAN feature wasn't notably successful, and though the Hawks had a couple more short-lived series, as well as appearing in features like JUSTICE LEAGUE, this version of the franchise petered out with the introduction of DC's "Crisis" continuity, after which the characters were substantially revised. Thus the 1960s remains the height of Shayera Hol's fortunes, during which she rarely served as "hero's kidnapped sidekick." In fact, HAWKMAN #14 is devoted to the proposition that Hawkgirl gets to save her hubby from a man-stealing alien amazon named "Queen Alvit." Actions speak louder than words:


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