DARK NIGHTS: METAL 101 — Birds vs. Bats & What HAWKMAN's Journal Means

Hawkman
Credit: Andy Kubert (DC Comics)
Credit: Greg Capullo/Jonathan Glapion/FCO (DC Comics)

Spoilers ahead for Dark Nights: Metal #1.

Before the publication of Dark Nights: Metal #1, one of the key mysteries about the event was: Where is Carter Hall/Hawkman's journal?

Now, although the question has been answered, there are even more mysteries surrounding the journal and the secrets it holds about Hawkman, Batman and the war between the "bats" and the "birds."

In our latest Dark Nights: Metal 101 examination, we focus on the Wayne family's possession of the journal, and the resulting questions and clues that Metal #1 introduced.


Journal Mystery

The question - who had Hawkman's journal? - first arose in Dark Days: The Casting #1, when Carter was seen giving his journal to an unknown, silhouetted character. It appeared to be an important hand-off, since the journal had been used for narration in both Metal prequel one-shots.

Carter's narration of the scene said he was giving his journal to "the family that has always been most loyal to the bird."

Hawkman said he commanded the family to "hide it unless I fail and the beast comes again - then and only then will the journal reveal itself."

Credit: Greg Capullo/Jonathan Glapion/FCO (DC Comics)

Well, the beast is apparently on its way, because the journal's reveal just happened in Dark Nights: Metal #1. Hidden within Wayne Manor, under the floor in the study, the journal revealed itself to Batman.

So…Hawkman's "trusted family" was obviously the Waynes.

Credit: DC Comics

Scott Snyder told Newsarama earlier this week that, "apparently, [Carter Hall] must have some history with the Wayne family in his previous lives - like Nighthawk and Cinnamon and that whole mythology."

Nighthawk and Cinnamon were two characters in a long line of reincarnations of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. They lived in the American Old West.

The panel depicting Hawkman giving his journal to someone was not an Old West scenario - it was much more recent and looked like a farm. If the mystery character's fedora means anything, it was probably around the middle of the 20th Century. But the family may have become trusted by Carter much earlier.

 

Credit: Greg Capullo/Jonathan Glapion/FCO (DC Comics)

Birds and Bats

Now the mystery of the journal hand-off has a brand new mystery attached to it. Although readers are now aware of the journal's location, the new question is: What is the Wayne connection to Hawkman?

In Dark Nights: Metal #1, Hawkman's journal said the Waynes had "turned from Tribe Bat to Tribe Bird." It seems like there's a story from the past within that statement…

The idea of "birds versus bats" has been threaded throughout Snyder and Capullo's run - and even Snyder's Detective Comics run before that.

When Newsarama talked to Snyder in March 2012 about the "birds versus bats" theme emerging in his Batman: Court of Owls story, he said, "there's something haunting for Bruce to realize that his closest ally is a bird, even though he was always called Robin. Now that the city is sort of divided along those lines, he looks around and what does he see? Birds of Prey, Robins, the Penguin - all of these make him feel very isolated as a bat."

Snyder and Capullo are continuing this theme, but it feels like "bat" and "bird" have even more meaning than they did during the "Court of Owls." They're now attached to the idea of tribes from history, a story thread that's been teased throughout the Metal prequels and this week's first issue.

In Dark Days: Casting #1, Hawkman referred to finding evidence of "the Hawk Tribe, where my story had truly begun, though I did not remember it." In Dark Nights: Metal, readers were told about a "tribe of the Bird."

Hawkman told a story in his journal [in The Casting] of he and his wife, many years ago, fighting a creature (whom we can now assume was Barbatos) and forcing it "back into the dark … shuttering the door between its world and ours."

"Birds and bats, forever at war," Hawkman's journal said.

Credit: Greg Capullo/Jonathan Glapion/FCO (DC Comics)

And in Metal, Kendra Saunders said Barbatos is "prayed to through metals by the dark tribe, enemy of the birds."

Whatever the connection between Batman's family and Hawkman's family, Snyder and Capullo are setting up a more-than-symbolic (and ages-old) war between "bats" and "birds."

As Dark Nights: Metal #1 ended, Hawkman's journal called the hero a "proud member of the Tribe of the Bird."

"I follow that first great dream of the true tribes," he said.

So although Metal has revealed the important information about the person who hid his journal all these years, it opened up even more mystery about birds, bats and the strange connection between the Waynes and Carter Hall.

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