Of Hawkmen and Hawkworlds:
by C. Richard Davies.
     If an extra-terrestrial visitor to our world were to compare the portrait
of England during the so-called regency period (1811-1820), especially in
"regency romances", with the image of the same nation in the works of Charles
Dickens, which were inspired by his childhood in that very period, he/she/it
might well be hard-pressed to believe that the images could both be valid. Yet
while the former would be unquestionably a more romanticised view, one could
argue that both were equally "real" -- with one simply telling the story of a
nation's heights, and the other the account of its depths. Therefore, I would
argue that it should not surprise us that two distinct portraits of a different
world have emerged from accounts by visitors from that world, and that they are
not contradictory, but complimentary.
     The world to which I refer is the planet Thanagar, said to be a satellite
of the star Polaris, sometimes called the North Star.[1] It was first described
as an almost utopian world which had only recently (as of the early 1960s)
developed the need for an organized police force. In order to gain better
insight into proper police procedures, the Thanagarian government sent two of
its finest agents to the planet Earth -- specifically, to the United States of
America -- where they became acquainted with numerous members of that world's
superhuman crime-fighting population. Of course, I speak here of Katar Hol and
Shayera Thal, the second Hawkman and Hawkwoman, members of the Justice League
of America and later (and briefly) members of the Justice League International.
     Gradually, however, the image of their homeworld, as presented in the
fictionalized renditions of their exploits, evolved from the early utopia to a
decidedly dystopian setting. In stories recounted in the early 1980s, Hawkman
and Hawkwoman were presented as fighting a shadow war against Thanagarian
agents on Earth, and their homeworld joined the alliance which attempted a
massive invasion of Earth. This period culminated in a revision of the heroes'
origins which puported to reveal that Thanagar had always been an exceedingly
unpleasant world. But that revision was then followed upon by a series of
stories which claimed that the preceding thirty years of stories had all been
complete fabrications, and that Katar Hol and Shayera Thal had only come to
Earth very recently.
     Needless to say, that allegation seems very unlikely, and it would be
tempting to dismiss the _Hawkworld_ stories as the actual fabrications, if not
for the remarkable revelation presented in one of the tales: that Paran Katar,
father of Katar Hol, had visited Earth in the 1930s, and assisted Carter Hall,
Earth's own original Hawkman, in creating the wings with which he flew. But
that claim, and the further claim that Paran Katar had married a human woman
who was the mother of Katar Hol -- named, of course, after Carter Hall -- only
works if one accepts the idea that Hawkman had not come to Earth before the
late 1980s. Katar Hol was in his mid-thirties[2] when he first appeared in
1960, which suggests that he was born in the early 1920s. Unless one would
claim that Paran Katar was also a time traveller, it would seem impossible for
him to have met the mother of his son on Earth in the late 1940s.
     But another detail in the _Hawkworld_ series contains the germ of a clue
which might explain the whole puzzle. Those stories claimed that the roles of
the "Silver Age" Hawkman and Hawkwoman in the stories of the Justice League of
America had actually been filled by the "Golden Age" Hawkman and Hawkgirl, up
until they disappeared, with the rest of the Justice Society, shortly after the
Crisis on Infinite Earths. Therafter, a Thanagarian agent named Fel Andar and a
human woman named Sandra had posed as Carter Hall Jr. and his wife in a handful
of stories set between the Crisis and the beginning of the _Hawkworld_ stories.
Of course, that is absurd. If Carter Hall had actually been as well known to
the members of the Justice League as his membership would suggest, would they
not have known that his only son was named Hector? But the idea of Fel Andar is
the clue to which I referred earlier.
     Perhaps it would be best to begin at the beginning, with Paran Katar. He
was born sometime in the 1890s, and had a son, whom he named Katar Hol, around
1923.[3] Paran Katar has been described as an ornithologist, but he was, by
training and by temperament, an inventor with an interest in the area of
gravity. (Perhaps, much like Leonardo da Vinci, he had begun his research into
flight by studying how birds flew, and developed an abiding fascination for the
genus as a whole.) However, while his son was still in his early teens, Paran
Katar was chosen for a mission that would take him from his homeworld to a
remote planet on the fringe of the Milky Way galaxy: Earth.
     Thanagar, at that point in its history at least, was not the unceasingly
imperialistic power it would become. But they, like many other species before
and since, became interested in the Sol System on discovering its proximity to
a naturally existing space warp nexus, located only a few light-minutes away
from the system's primary.[4] Since vague reports had reached the Thanagarian
government's intelligence services about Terrestrials involved in a number of
off-planet incidents, it was decided to send a small team to examine the only
populated planet in the area to evaluate the prospect of occupying it.[5]
     Aside from Paran Katar, we know the name of only one member of the team
sent from Thanagar to Earth: Andar Nal, a younger agent who was assigned to
pose as Paran Katar's assistant. While Paran Katar assumed the alias Perry
Carter, Andar Nal used the name Andrew O'Neill. Paran Katar met Carter Hall,
who apparently concluded that "Perry" was a cousin born on the wrong side of
the blanket, as it were. The similarity between the names of Paran Katar's son
and his new associate was probably rather startling to him, but no more than
the parallels between their research into what Carter called "ninth metal", and
what others have called "cavorite". It was likely the synthesis of their mutual
research that produced the flying costumes that Carter Hall and Shiera Saunders
wore as Hawkman and Hawkgirl.[6]
     Andar Nal remained largely in the background during these events, although
a photograph exists that shows him with Carter Hall and "Perry Carter". While
Paran Katar compiled reports on the aristocracy of the United States, of which
Carter Hall was clearly a part, Andar Nal researched its lower classes, and was
startled to discover that they were treated quite similar in many respects to
the way that Thanagar treated its Downsiders. As part of this research, he
visited many slums and Native American reservations. It was while touring one
of the latter that he met the Cherokee woman called Naomi. (Her full, maiden
name has never been revealed.)
     It has been said, and more or less truely, that love knows not race,
creed, birth, nor indeed common sense. This was clearly the case here, and
Andar Nal apparently pulled every string he could to allow the woman he loved
to return to his homeworld when the Thanagarian mission ended in 1948. He was
aided by the fact that his brother, Andar Pul, was a rising figure in
Thanagar's government. In the end, Naomi O'Neill did travel to Thanagar, though
for one reason or another the star-crossed couple did not have children for
some time.[7]
     It has also been said that love dies. Sometime after the birth of their
only child, Fel Andar, Naomi asked her husband to allow her to return to Earth.
While he permitted this, he would not allow her to take their child with her,
and Thanagar's custody laws were very clear. She was sent back alone, and Fel
Andar was raised without ever being aware that he was a child of two worlds. He
was also raised to view the the role of a member of the Wingmen of Thanagar as
the highest goal to which a being could aspire.
     The Wingmen had been created in 1949, roughly a year after Paran Katar
returned home with a recommendation that Thanagar leave Earth strictly alone.
Even with the technological edge that Thanagar possessed, the superhumans who
had recently begun to emerge on Earth would be a factor that required further,
careful examination. With his report filed, Paran Katar returned to his true
work, and built the first Thanagarian "hawk suit". Only a few days later, Katar
Hol used it to battle the Manhawks, a group of Downsiders who had acquired
advanced weaponry of their own.[8] After the Manhawk threat was eliminated, the
Thanagarian government realized that a group of flying police officers would be
an ideal way to maintain control over Thanagarian and Downsider alike.
     Katar Hol and his wife and partner Shayera Thal came to Earth in 1959,
after the Thanagarian government received intelligence that the Apellaxian
trial by combat had been fought on the planet, but somehow been prevented from
devastating the planet. That indicated capability far in advance of anything
that Paran Katar's reports had suggested, and required careful investigation.
And so, two of the finest members of the Wingmen were sent to Earth to learn
more about crime-fighting -- specifically, to study the superhuman
crimefighters active at that time.[9] It's unlikely that they realized they
were spies for some years to come.
     Does this diminish the heroism of Katar Hol and Shayera Thal? I would
argue that it does not. They were raised in a culture that viewed itself as the
height of civilization, and never questioned that anything should or could be
better until after they were exposed to that difference on Earth. But when they
did so, they did begin to ask the hard questions. In that respect, they are
more heroic than many Terrestrials, such as Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond, who never
questioned the superiority of their culture at all.
     In any event, they settled in Chicago, where they established themselves
as Carter and Shiera Hall with the assistance of a high-ranking member of the
local police department. (It is likely that they also contacted the real Carter
Hall, retired at that time, and obtained permission from him to pose as a
cousin -- again, born on the wrong side of the blanket. Paran Katar had
apparently revealed some of his origins to his "cousin".) In a relatively short
amount of time, they joined the Justice League of America, and served with
distinction and honor.
     Gradually, they came to realize the true nature of the government which
they served, being exposed to less developed examples of its problems on Earth.
It didn't help that Thanagar briefly came under the rule of an interplanetary
adventurer named Hyathis,[10] and that after Hawkman and Hawkwoman overthrew
her with assistance from Earth's superheroes, a new council rose to take her
place and continued her policies exactly. Katar and Shayera began a shadow war
against Thanagarian agents on Earth, keeping it as secret as possible, even
from their colleagues, both out of shame and out of concern for what the
Thanagarians might do to their allies with their mind-reading and mind-control
technology. It all came to an end when Thanagar allied with several other
hostile extra-terrestrial species to plan a massive invasion of Earth.
Fortunately, this effort was thwarted before it could do much real damage.
     In the wake of the "invasion", however, the government of Thanagar began
to rethink its policies towards Earth. Following the example of Daxam, which
had concluded an alliance with Earth's United Nations, Thanagar began to
negotiate a treaty with the government of the United States. The intention of
this policy, of course, was conquest by assimilation, but as long as the
Thanagarians were willing to play by "the rules", the United States would do
the same ... particularly if it could get advanced technology out of the deal.
     A key part of these negotiations were demands for the return of two
traitors to Thanagar. While Katar and Shayera were probably assured that their
membership in the Justice League would shield them from those demands, they
made a difficult decision ... and went into hiding. Until the situation could
be resolved, they would take themselves out of the equation completely. It is
likely that they were aided by their friends and colleagues in doing so ... and
any plan for hiding in which the Batman and Superman collaborate is one that is
likely to be absurdly successful.
      At about the same time on Thanagar, ex-Wingman Fel Andar had returned
from a ten year exile to the Isle of Chance. His crime had been the murder of
his own father. After some further irregularity, with the assistance of a
female Wingman,[11] he was able to confront the man who had created the
situation which prompted the killing, and expose him publicly. The criminal
then fled, using the shapeshifting drug once used by Byth Rok, and escaped to
Earth. The government of Thanagar once again found itself with a hero on its
hands, one who had a clear desire to travel to Earth. So they sent him to be
the bodyguard of their diplomatic mission to the United States, and sent the
Wingman who aided him to be his partner ... and to spy on him.
      Just as with Katar Hol and his wife, this pair of Wingmen would be
changed by their experiences on Earth as well. Part of their mission, never
revealed to the public, was to hunt down the second Hawkman and Hawkwoman if
possible, yet Fel Andar came to admire his predecessors and even consciously
shaped his heroic persona after both Katar Hol and Carter Hall.
      It is uncertain what became of him, just as the ultimate fate of Katar
Hol and Carter Hall remains unclear. It is possible that all three of them were
merged into the current Hawkman, whose personality largely reflects Carter
Hall's, just as it is possible that Shayera Thal was, like Shiera Hall, somehow
reincarnated into the body of Kendra Saunders. Only time and patient research
will tell.
[1] In "The Hall of Worlds", Al Schroeder argues that this assignment suggests
that the Thanagarians cannot be native to their world, as Polaris has not
existed long enough for any worlds surrounding it to develop native life. While
I concur with that reasoning in general, I could also point out that the
visitors from Thanagar might not have revealed the true location of their
[2] I note in passing that all dates and ages are in Terrestrial years, as no
information is available on the length of the Thanagarian year.
[3] One lamentable difficulty with separating the Silver Age and Tarnished
Bronze Age Hawkman, as this article does, is that it necessitates eliminating
all information about Katar Hol's mother.
[4] This space warp nexus will still pose a menace to starships powered by
Cochrane-Bergenholm warp fields into the twenty-third century; the U.S.S.
Enterprise was nearly wrecked by an encounter with it shortly after it was
refitted, prior to the vessel's encounter with the V'Ger entity.
[5] They apparently overlooked the small colony of near-humans on Neptune's
moon Triton, as well as the Uranian and Titanian Eternals. Ironically, any of
these groups might well have proved more serious challenges to any Thanagarian
ambitions in the area, considering the number of commercial deals brokered by
the rulers of Triton between the Oni and more civilized powers, such as the
Jurai, and the likelihood that their "allies" would have intervened.
[6] The story which revealed the presence of Paran Katar on Earth in the 1930s
claimed that his presence was the reason that Carter Hall had only been able to
create two suits. This is manifestly incorrect. First, Hector Hall also used a
suit made of "ninth metal" as the Silver Scarab. Secondly, it is unlikely that
the two suits could have survived heavy usage through a global conflict and
several decades of crime-fighting without repairs, which suggests that Carter
had to have had a supply of the raw materials. (Needless to say, claims that
the material used by the Hawkmen only functioned because it contained the
essence of a deity, the Hawk God, should probably be discounted.)
[7] According to my own computations, Andar Fel was born in 1950 and was
thirty-one years old when he came to Earth in 1981. Chronologies which place
this third Hawkman's arrival later (e.g. around 1989) must of necessity place
his birth somewhat later. Possibly any delays were due to differences in
genetics between Thanagarians and Terrestrials, which required genetic
engineering to overcome.
[8] The original account of this portrays them as alien to Thanagar, which is
as true as the Japanese claim that thousands of Koreans in their country are
[9] It seems likely that Byth Rok, the Thanagarian criminal whom Katar and
Shayera initially pursued to Earth, was manipulated into leading the pair
there, much like certain Terrestrial police forces might allow a criminal to
"escape" if they can use the excuse of pursuing him to allow them into areas or
jurisdictions to which they would not normally have access. Note that there is
probably no connection between Byth Rok and the individual given the same name
in _Hawkworld_. Like many figures encountered by the third Hawkman and
Hawkwoman team, he was given that name by those who recounted their stories in
order to create an illusion.
[10] While portrayed as a non-Thanagarian in the comics, Hyathis was in fact a
Thanagarian who had left her homeworld in hopes of gaining power she could
never hope to achieve as a female on Thanagar. She was also the grandmother of
the woman who was portrayed as the "Shayera Thal" to Fel Andar's "Katar Hol".
[11] This woman, as mentioned above, was given the name Shayera Thal in the
fictionalized representations of these events. Her actual name is unknown, and
I am unwilling to speculate. She was the grand-daughter of Hyathis and Thal
Porvis, who may have been a relative of the real Shayera Thal. Her
thirteen-year old mother was seduced by Andar Pul, and in order to preserve
Pul's career, the child which resulted was abandoned in Downside. Needless to
say, this caused the young woman in question to be a bit of a hard case.


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