JLA Profiles: Johns Approaching HAWKMAN In a New Way

exclusive art

from Hawkman #17

For fans of Hawkman, the idea of Geoff Johns handling him again in Justice League of America is exciting, because of the writer's acclaimed work on the character in JSA and the solo Hawkman title.

But Johns told Newsarama that people should not expect the same approach this time around.

"This Hawkman's a different Hawkman than the one I wrote in Justice Society of America, who was a little more regal, as the reincarnated warrior," he said. "But this is an extra-terrestrial from Thanagar."

When DC created its "New 52" universe, Hawkman got a complete makeover, with a tweaked origin and a new set of powers during the launch of the title The Savage Hawkman.

Over the next few weeks until the release of Justice League of America on Feb. 20th, Newsarama is spotlighting the heroes who make up this "other" Justice League, including those with "revamped" histories like Hawkman.

Who are these characters? Where did they come from? And what's their story within the JLA?

As we turn the spotlight on Hawkman, we talked to writers and artists who have been forming this revamped character — including Johns and JLA artist David Finch — to get the scoop on who Carter Hall is in the New 52.

The Basics

 

"Carter Hall" is the name that alien Katar Hol adopted on Earth, but he's actually an alien from the planet Thanagar. His history on that planet reads much like a tale from mythology.

Katar Hol was born to a race of Thanagarian warriors, but he was a man of peace and tolerance. After an enemy of Thanager engineered a plague that caused them to lose all their wings, the war-minded Thanagarian emperor, Corsar, began mining Nth Metal to make armor and weapons.

When the Nth Metal came into contact with Katar Hol, it bonded to him and formed his Hawkman uniform organically, restoring his wings. Apparently, Katar Hol was "worthy," and was given the powerful Nth Metal as a type of organic weapon, bonded to his body.

Corsar was jealous, and Katar became a wanted and exiled man, and he now resides on Earth.

Character Quirks

Although Hawkman was once a man of peace, his fighting style is brutal.

"When I think of Hawkman, I see a warrior who was betrayed by the world he loved and routinely put himself at risk to protect," said Tom DeFalco, who's writing The Savage Hawkman this spring. "After being exiled on Earth, Katar Hol was forced to adopt the identity of Carter Hall and is now at war with himself and those who threaten his adopted planet. Carter yearns for a simple life, but Katar revels in the power that his Nth Metal gives him. Carter seeks knowledge, but Katar is hunter in search of prey."

And Hawkman is very, very powerful, thanks to the Nth Metal.

"As people have seen, the armor is kind of organic," said Philip Tan, the artist who first launched The Savage Hawkman. "[The armor is] alive. It's building on the character like a canvas. It's appearing out of his skin. It's not like he has to physically put pieces of it onto his body. And this armor manifests whatever weapon he needs or armor for whatever part of the body needs to be shielded."

Hawkman was told that the Nth Metal "possesses energies and collective knowledge beyond this plane of existence," and there is evidence it can impart knowledge in the form of visions. He can transform his weapons into anything he thinks, and the Nth Metal gives Hawkman super-speed, super-strength, and healing power.

It's also important to note that Katar Hol had a lover on Thanagar named Shayera Thal. But she was Emperor Corsar's sister, and when Katar became a wanted man, Shayera was among those who hunted him.

However, in this week's issue of The Savage Hawkman, it appears that Shayera realized Hawkman was innocent, and she sacrificed herself trying to protect him from the Thanagarians.

The Visual

When The Savage Hawkman was first launched, the new approach to Hawkman's look was motivated by all these new powers offered by the Nth Metal.

 

"The design originally came from Jim Lee," Tan said. "Tony [Daniel] and I took that original [design] idea and came up with ideas about how we could make it even more interesting visually and in the story. It evolved from there. We put a lot of thought and discussion into it. We thought it would really help the visuals of the book while adding to the character. And we really agreed on making it that way."

Finch, who will start drawing Hawkman in Justice League of America, said the character's brutal feel fits well with his own artistic style.

"I love his new costume. I love the new face mask," Finch told Newsarama. "He does really work for my style. I feel very comfortable drawing him."

Team Role

But what is a winged alien doing on the Justice League of America? Readers first got a hint about his recruitment on the last page of Justice League #16, when Cyborg accessds information about heroes who are potential new members of the League. And Hawkman was among those heroes.

 

But the specific reason he's recruited into the Justice League of America is still a mystery, as are many other things about the character. But Johns promises we'll learn about Hawkman pretty quickly in the new series.

"This Hawkman... you'll know clearly where Hawkman's coming from — why he's here, what he's doing, and a bit of a mystery about him in issue #1," Johns said. "Then in issue #2, you'll see him interact with the team in a way that is extremely different than how we've ever seen Hawkman interact with a team before."

The writer also implied at New York Comic Con that Hawkman isn't much of a team player, and he keeps a bit of mystery between himself and the rest of the team members. He "just shows up, beats someone up, then disappears and no one knows where he goes," he said.

 

"This is an extra-terrestrial from Thanagar, who's on Earth, and we’ll learn why," Johns said. "He's an incredible, brutal character, but an incredibly complex character. To say he’s a barbarian with wings is oversimplifying, but that’s what many see him as. He’s got a bit of a haunted past, and the people he ends up connecting the most with in the JLA will surprise even him."

Check back with Newsarama during the next few weeks until the launch of Justice League of America on Feb. 20th for more character profiles from the JLA team. And see our recent profiles below.  

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