Hawkman #3 has confirmed what series writer Robert Venditti implied to Newsarama last week - Katar Hol and Carter Hall are two separate lives from Hawkman's history of reincarnation.
The new Hawkman series is created by Venditti and artist Bryan Hitch and spins out of the Dark Nights: Metal event. Past issues have already established that Hawkman is experiencing strange periods of time travel that allow him to visit past lives.
In issue #2, for example, Hawkman suddenly (and inexplicably) traveled back in time to briefly interact with Prince Khufu, who is a long-established past life of Hawkman.
At the end of this week's Hawkman #3, the character experienced the same type of sudden time travel episode.
This time, Hawkman traveled through time and space to Thanagar, where he was confronted by Katar Hol.
So, it appears that Katar Hol is just another of Hawkman's past lives.
In past DC continuity, Hawkman had a muddled history that sometimes placed his origin in ancient Egypt and sometimes placed it on the alien planet Thanagar.
In the Thanagarian origin story, Hawkman was actually Katar Hol, a police officer who had come to Earth to capture a dangerous criminal and decided to stay, using "Carter Hall" as his Earthling cover name.
The establishment of Prince Khufu and Katar Hol as past lives of the current Hawkman is a switch from New 52 continuity, but it aligns with Dark Nights: Metal. In that mini-series, Hawkman was shown to be much older than previously suspected, having reincarnated thousands of times since the dawn of man.
Now the Hawkman series is tracing that history while also trying to prevent the character's vision of a cataclysmic future that he believes he's supposed to prevent.
As Venditti explained it: "The twist here is that the clues he's following were left by himself throughout his various past lives because he realized that he's starting to forget. And these are things that he needs to remember.
Every issue is going to a different place. He's discovering a new clue that takes him somewhere new again. And along the way, he's hoping he'll piece together what he needs to know to stop this threat."
Let's take a look at this week's issue to understand what's happening to the character in the new Hawkman series and how new continuity is being established within the character's past and future:
So far in Hawkman, the character has learned that there's a much greater meaning behind the symbol of the hawk he wears, and he's discovered (through a vision) that there's a great winged threat coming that he alone can combat.
In fact, he believes his mission on Earth — and even the reason for his reincarnations — is connected to this winged threat.
For the first two issues of the Hawkman series, the character has been discovering clues to the mystery of his past and threatening future. Each of the clues so far was hidden by past incarnations of himself, reinforcing the idea that he loses memories each time he reincarnates. By piecing together these clues, he hopes to discover the secret of his past and future that may prevent the apocalyptic future from his vision.
At the end of issue #2, Hawkman obtained a hawk-headed staff from Prince Khufu, his past life, in ancient Egypt. On the staff was carved a map that pointed him toward Dinosaur Island.
After fighting a T-Rex, Hawkman camps at the base of the mountain at the center of Dinosaur Island. He writes in his journal about his fears that he's the reason the cataclysmic future is coming. He determines that the next clue must be at the top of the mountain.
Ancient Feathery Secret
The next morning, as he flies toward the mountain's summit, he's attacked by avian humanoids that call themselves "Feitherans." After hours of battle, Hawkman finally triumphs and lands at the summit to find a wise, old Feitheran sitting alone in front of a cave opening.
The old man explains that his flock was sent to guard the "secret of the Aerie." "We were sent here by you, but not you," he says, indicating that it was one of Hawkman's past lives that established his flock as guards of the mountain. "Because you are you, I know that you understand. Now the moment has come. Enter the Aerie and see that which you have come for."
Hawkman enters the cave and discovers that its walls are smooth and curved with precision. The interior is not made of Earth stone.
He finds glyphs of different hawks figures and some type of lock-type opening. He realizes that the hawk head from the staff will fit into the lock, and it triggers the sudden appearance of stars and constellations on the walls of the cave.
"It's a planetarium, but the night sky isn't Earth's," he says.
As he examines the constellations, he begins to remember them. He realizes they are from Thanagar and he appears to recall his life there.
Suddenly, he is thrust through some type of portal again (like in issue #2 when he landed in ancient Egypt).
This time, he appears before Katar Hol, who puts him under arrest.
The issue's ending explains why the solicitation for Hawkman #4 promised a "brawl" between "Hawkman and Hall." And presumably, the interaction between these two versions of Hawkman won't be the last time Carter Hall interacts with one of his past lives. In issue #1, Venditti revealed that Hawkman had past lives on Krypton and Rann, as well as several already-established lives on Earth.
In issue #5, however, he'll first make a stop in the Microverse, where he'll interact with Ray Palmer and the sentient planet Moz-Ga from the recent Justice League of America series.