Jim Starlin: Hawkman - The Special and Beyond?

Jim Starlin Talks Hawkman

Things didn’t look so good for Hawkman at the end of Rann-Thanagar Holy War #3, did they? On August 6th, DC Comics and Jim Starlin provide some answers in Hawkman Special #1. Bridging the gap between issues #3 and #4 of the Rann/Thanagar Holy War mini-series, the Special finds Hawkman face-to-face with Synnar and the fall-out from their confrontation leaves him questioning his own existence.

Newsarama contacted Jim Starlin to talk about Hawkman Special #1; how it ties into the Rann/Thanagar Holy War mini-series; and how the events taking place in the mini- have a certain amount of relevancy in actual current events in the US and abroad.

Newsarama: First off Jim, the events of Rann-Thanagar Holy War spill into your new Hawkman one-shot – the overlap touching upon the fact that the Thanagarians have found a new religion and a new prophet--how dangerous is a culture (even a fictional one) when its spiritual/religious foundation appears to be built on shifting sand? Is there any symbolic relevancy from your personal views of the sociopolitical and religious climates around the world embedded in this project?

Jim Starlin: When folks are in desperate times, say like being stuck in the middle of a long-running interplanetary war, they grasp onto anything that might keep them afloat. Now I know Barrack Obama got in trouble recently, for saying something similar. But I'm not running for president, so I get to speak the truth. In the Holy War the Thanagarians have the Eternal Light Corporation Church giving them false religious hope. The Rannians have Lady Styx. They're both obviously heading for trouble.

I'm ending the Rann/Thanagar war at the conclusion of Holy War and one of those two worlds lose this conflict because of putting hope in a fake deity.

So to answer your question, it's very dangerous. Just look at our own world and what problems fundamental religious outlook (of all kinds) is causing. The founding fathers of the US were right when they erected that wall between church and state.

NRAMA: How does the Special tie-in between Rann-Thanagar Holy War #3 and #4? Things certainly don't look too good for Hawkman--he's just gotten beaten up by an angry mob of Rannians...

JS: I'm afraid things get worse for Hawkman. Actually, I think the Special story takes place just before Hawkman gets his clock cleaned by that bunch of angry Rannian zealots. While Adam Strange and company are on Hardcore Station Hawkman meets Synnar on his own. But is this the same Synnar Adam Strange met in Holy War #3. It doesn’t look to be so. Also, Hawkman learns that a lot of what he thought he knew about his own life appears to be a lie.

NRAMA: When readers discuss Hawkman, more times than not, a lot of discussion turns towards his somewhat confusing back story. How do professionals involved with the character discuss the character? Is there a similar level of confusion? Or is there more of an "a la carte" approach to what each writer utilizes from Hawkman's past?

JS: I was specifically approached to retool Hawkman's confusing history. The Hawkman Special is merely the first step for Hawkman and the reader on their road to truth. When I started writing Holy War everybody up at DC warned me to stay away from anything to do with Hawkman's past. They described it as "a mess."

Then a few weeks later Dan Didio called and asked if I'd clean up the mess. I guess the way I dress makes folks mistake me for the custodial engineer.

So up until now the rule has been to just avoid Hawkman's history.

NRAMA: As a creation, what are some of Hawkman's strengths that have allowed the character as much longevity as he has had?

JS: It's all in the way he looks. Hawkman, with that helmet, wings and those medieval weapons, is just the coolest looking character. As well crafted as a lot of Hawkman's past tales have been, they've always been pretty much Batman-with-wings stories with only the occasional nod to his Thanagarian origins.

Oh yeah, there's his bad-ass personality too. As one fan pointed out, he's the only DC character who doesn't think twice about getting into Batman's face.

NRAMA: How much clarity can readers expect from your work with the Hawkman Special? Will there be a definitive, "THIS IS HAWKMAN." type of revelation by the end of the events running in Holy War and the Special?

JS: Holy War and the Hawkman Special are merely the first steps in finding out who Hawkman is. As soon as Holy War ends I get onto the meat of the tale. It looks like Hawkman and I are going to be hanging out together a lot.

NRAMA: Are any changes in store a preventative measure or more of a cleaning house type of ordeal?

JS: Preventative or cleaning house? Not sure what preventative means, in this case. Cleaning house? I'd prefer to think of it as just straightening up a bit and then heading off in a new direction. I'm going out of my way not to negate any past Hawkman stories. What I want to do is make the reader realize that Carter Hall is not who Hawkman or the reader thought he was when those tales took place.

I know it sounds kind of confusing. Sorry. I just don't write stories that fit easily into simple answers. My bad.

NRAMA: How has Synnar the Demiurge changed since he was last seen in comics? How is he connected to 'The Nameless'?

JS: Synnar's another character who mistakenly thinks he knows where he going. I'm afraid he comes to a rude awakening at the end of Holy War #5. Can't say any more about him that that, at this time. But his connection to the Nameless will be clarified in Holy War #6.

Can't tell you anything about the Aberrant Six either.

NRAMA: How does the recurring thematic of religious zealotry figure into the story surrounding Hawkman?

JS: You don't have to be a religious person to be effected by religion or a religious movement. Hawkman just happens to be the poor slob who's hanging around on the street corner when the Spanish Inquisition goes through town.

NRAMA: Would you consider doing a monthly Hawkman book?

JS: Something along those lines is in the works. But we'll have to get back to that in a future interview.

NRAMA: You seem to have a real knack with Sci-Fi characters based in the DC Universe - how much of a connection resonates with you and this set of characters?

JS: Adam Strange and Captain Comet were some of the first sci-fi comic characters I ever read. When I was a kid, there was this neighborhood beer and wine store that sold old comics for a nickel a piece. I'd load up on old books whenever we went on vacation. Yeah, I have a lot of fond memories of riding in the back of the ol' station wagon and reading Mystery in Space and Strange Adventures as we headed up to Torch Lake.

Aside from that, they, Hawkman and some other characters floating around the sci-fi DCU are just great to play with. For the time being, Didio has said this section of the DCU is mine to create whatever interesting havoc I can come up with. So I'm going to town and having a great time.

NRAMA: When it comes to changes in characters--you aren't afraid to take an old character behind the woodshed, so to speak, is there a fine line even you wouldn't cross? Are Hawkman's many lives and deaths indicative that some death and rebirth types of projects can be more trouble than they are worth?

JS: My barometer on this matter is whether a character is working or not. Sales determine this sometimes (Captain Marvel, Warlock, Hawkman, etc). Other times the character has been written into a corner and just needs a new breath of life (Batman). It all depends on the situation and character. I've worked on Superman, for example, and changed nothing there because he was working just fine.

Plus he's an icon. You don't mess with symbols. That's why I like working on the characters no one else is paying any attention to. You have a freedom on the second level characters you just can't get working on the big guns.

As for Hawkman, no one seems to know exactly how he came to be in his current state. My guess is that multiple editors and writers just kept trying their best to get it right. The road to Hell is paved in good intentions.

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