With this week's release of Hawkman Found, readers of the Dark Nights: Metal event series by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo will begin to unravel the mystery of Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders in the "Rebirth" DCU.
Not only has the history of Hawkman and Hawkgirl been altered by the Metal, but the characters have suddenly taken a turn for the dark side within December 20's Dark Nights: Metal #4.
So what brought them to the point where they serve the dark? How has their changed history influenced the new trajectory on which they're headed?
If you're confused by all the changes happening right now with Hawkman and Hawkgirl – and the dark versions of them that just appeared at the end of Dark Nights: Metal #4 - this edition of "Dark Nights: Metal 101" is for you, as we take a look at what turned Hawkman and Hawkgirl into trapped, evil versions of themselves.
Where is Hawkgirl in "Rebirth"?
With the start of the Dark Nights: Metal event, readers have now learned that Hawkgirl has been reincarnated as a human woman named Kendra Saunders, also known as "Lady Blackhawk." She's part of a secret organization known as the Blackhawks, whose purpose is to prevent the return of an evil god named Barbatos who has haunted the Earth before.
But in the most recent Dark Nights: Metal, #4, Kendra unexpectedly turned into a black-and silver-clad, dark version of Hawkgirl. She explained that she is no longer Kendra. "I am Lady Blackhawk, and all roads lead back to darkness."
This dark version of Hawkgirl appears to be on the side of evil, working with Black Adam, Vandal Savage, and Barbatos. However, her transformation into this dark Lady Blackhawk didn't appear to be something Kendra was willing to do, but was instead something forced upon her.
And Where is Hawkman?
Hawkman just showed up in the same issue of Dark Nights: Metal. He's also serving Barbatos - probably unwillingly as well - and he resides in the depths of the Dark Multiverse in a place called the "World Forge" where alternate earths were once created. Because of Barbatos, this Forge has "gone dark," with no creation happening there anymore.
Hawkman has turned into a great winged beast who carries a forging hammer and guards the World Forge. When Batman and Superman arrived in the World Forge, hoping to reignite what glimmer of creation remained there, they discovered this giant, dark version of Hawkman.
"I am Carter Hall, dragon of Barbatos, keeper of the Dark Forge," the beast version of Hawkman said. "And there are only endings here."
How They Got Here
Before we can analyze just what happened to get Hawkman and Hawkgirl to this point, we need to look at their history. According to the Metal series and the Death of Hawkman mini-series, this is the current continuity of the Hawks:
At the Dawn of Man: In the era of cavemen, Hawkman and Hawkgirl (before they were reincarnated and became those identities) were leaders of the Bird-Tribe, who fought against the darkness worshipped by the Bat-Tribe.
These pre-historic versions of the Hawks battled the evil god Barbatos, the world destroyer who had escaped from the World Forge. The Hawks defeated him and trapped him back in the Dark Multiverse.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl won the battle, but they lost their lives. However, these cavemen versions of the Hawks apparently had the power of reincarnation and returned again...
Ancient Egypt: In one of their reincarnated lives, the Hawks lived as Egyptian Prince Khufu and Princess Chay-Ara. The royal couple and an Egyptian priest named Hath-Set (a reincarnated Bat-Tribe member) died in the desert after the arrival of a spaceship with Nth Metal from Thanagar.
Somehow, when they died this time, Hath-Set took away the memories that Hawkman and Hawkgirl had of their pre-Egyptian lives - and thus ripped away their understanding of the evil Bat-Tribe and the potentially harmful powers of Nth Metal.
"He had obscured the truth behind the metal we wore in our wings and belts in service of something darker than any mortal could comprehend," according to Hawkman's journal as published in Dark Days: The Casting. "That was the truth Hath-Set severed us from."
Earth 1900s: During the "first decades of the 20th Century" (according to The Casting), Hawkman and Hawkgirl lived in the quiet American city of St. Roch. Hawkman worked as archaeologist Carter Hall at a small museum there, but the two also fought crime as Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
Immortal Investigation: Hawkman had visions in the moments before he was reincarnated, warning about the dangers of Nth Metal and something to which he was connected. Investigating together with Hawkgirl, the two found out from a group of Immortals that they had a history with the Bird-Tribe and the evil god Barbatos. They verified the story by finding "countless paintings on every continent, hidden in the deepest cave systems," depicting the battle against Barbatos.
Second Barbatos Encounter: Also in the early 20th Century, after discovering the truth about their tribal past, Hawkgirl and Hawkman formed a team of scientists and adventurers to study the Dark Multiverse. They eventually sent a team to the "other side" by utilizing Nth Metal, but the experiment was a failure. The team disappeared, the lab was ripped from reality, and Hawkman saw the eyes of "something great and terrible." They decided to stop their investigation, and Carter hid his journal with a trusted friend (a Wayne family member), hoping no one would discover the information within it.
In the decades since, the Blackhawks have worked in secret to prevent anyone else from investigating this darkness.
Death of Hawkman: In a mini-series published post-"Rebirth," Hawkman died fighting against the villain Despero. The story involved Nth Metal, with Hawkman's own Nth Metal being turned against him.
As he died, Hawkman said, "See you in the next life," aware that he would be reincarnated.
What went wrong?
Since Hawkman's death in May 2017's Death of Hawkman, he has not been seen in any DC books. His appearance as a dark beast in the depths of the Dark Multiverse is the first time he's been seen since.
There's no information yet on how he went from being a dead hero to being a force for the dark. And as mentioned previously, Hawkgirl's life in current continuity is a mystery, as she didn't exist in the "New 52" main Earth until the start of Metal.
However, readers were given some insight about their surprise appearances by Scott Snyder, who told Newsarama, "With Kendra, she has felt his influence over time. They both were stabbed by Nth Metal in the past. Trying not to give too much away about what you'll learn, the remnants of that blade in Kendra were much worse than in Carter.So Barbatos has had influence over her, although I think she's easily as strong as Carter in being able to overcome all of this.Part of what she becomes here plays into her strength later on. You'll find out more about her and Carter soon, and in the stories rolling out of Metal with them as well."
Our Best Guess
So how did Hawkman become a dragon of the Dark Forge? We can only guess that, when Hawkman was reincarnated this time (or even before he could be fully reincarnated), he was dragged into the Dark Multiverse. It appears that Carter's connection to Nth Metal was a sort of conductor that Barbatos used to drag him there.
And because his battle with Despero was centered around Nth Metal, it's possible that his manner of death assisted with his entrapment in the Dark Forge.
Her surprise switch from Kendra to dark-Hawkgirl was predicated by some really negative, almost hopeless dialogue. Her lack of hope may have given Barbatos some sort of access that she didn't realize he had.
And because she had been so exposed to the Nth Metal, she too has been manipulated into a force for evil.
This week's Hawkman Found is what Snyder calls "a really big piece about how Hawkman wound up here [in the Dark Forge], what he's experienced, what his history is a little bit more concretely than we've gotten a chance to explain it, and also what might lie in his future.
"You'll get plenty of Carter Hall in Metal and you'll see what happens with him as this kind of giant kaiju dragon at the World Forge, but if you want to know more about how he wound up there, about his history, about his place in the DCU, about his relationship with Kendra, his different lives and what might happen to him beyond Metal - all of that - [Hawkman Found] is a good place to go."
And beyond Metal, readers will see more of the Hawks in the future, Snyder said. "There are plans rolling forward for Hawkman that kind of play off a lot of [Hawkman Found] and the Geoff Johns run [on Hawkman] and all of that.
"So that's all being set up as a kind of launchpad for a lot of Hawkman story coming after Metal."