Spoilers ahead for this week's Hawkman #7.
Hawkman’s new origin story has been revealed in Hawkman #7, changing the character’s ability to reincarnate into an ongoing penance for mass murder.
The Hawkman series, launched earlier this year by writer Robert Venditti and artist Bryan Hitch, has been building toward the character’s new origin story, one that was hinted about in the recent DC event Dark Nights: Metal.
In Metal, readers learned that the character is much older than previously believed, having first inhabited Earth at the dawn of man.
The new Hawkman series has gone a few steps further, establishing that Hawkman’s reincarnation occurs over time and space, meaning he has lived lives on other planets and in other realms. All the previous versions and origins of Hawkman that DC published were merely some of the character’s past lives.
Now, with Hawkman #7, DC has established that Hawkman was originally an ageless creature known as Ktar Deathbringer, who destroyed millions of civilizations throughout the cosmos - all in service of a dark lord.
Eventually, Ktar rebelled against the dark lord and was killed. But after death, Ktar was judged and sentenced to reincarnate across time and space until he saved as many lives as he killed.
Now that his new origin story has been established (and discovered in-story by Carter Hall), Hawkman will have to face his past again, as his fellow Deathbringers are on their way to Earth for revenge.
Let’s take a look at spoilers:
Not a Good Dude
In Hawkman #7, Carter Hall has finally discovered what appears to be his original life. In this one, he was known as Ktar, the general of the winged Deathbringers.
The purpose of the Deathbringers was to destroy worlds, kill people on a mass scale, and capture “tributes.” The prisoners were then thrown into a cosmic portal so they could be consumed by a life-eating force called the “Lord Beyond the Void.” The Deathbringers could hear this entity’s voice, coming from somewhere beyond the portal into which they threw their chained prisoners.
It was pretty messed up.
This “lord” they served was real, and in Hawkman #7, its voice is depicted in black word balloons, implying a dark intent (as if the killing and consumption of millions of people wasn’t dark enough).
“My time draws near,” the voice says to Ktar during one ritual. “The universe will be my kingdom and you my weapon of conquest.”
Among Ktar’s fellow Deathbringers is another winged creature named Imann, one that Ktar calls his “old friend.” And their rituals take place at a temple on the Planet QGGA. (Try pronouncing that one.)
Readers also learn that the Deathbringers “never age.” So apparently, Ktar has been killing thousands (maybe millions?) of people over a very long time.
Change of Heart
Alas … genocide gets old. One day, as Ktar is standing among thousands of dead bodies on Thanagar, he is sad and unsure of his life as a killer. Suddenly, he sees a red-haired woman who senses his dissatisfaction with his life’s purpose.
He tells her to back away, yet he spares her life. (And yes, fellow Hawkman fans, she looks like Shayera.)
The woman begins appearing to him on other worlds as well, making him feel ashamed when she looks at him. “Stop,” he says at one point. “I don’t want you to see what I’ve done. Forgive me.”
Finally, all the shame culminates in a battle at the temple. Ktar leads the prisoners in a revolt, destroying the temple and fighting again Imann, who calls Ktar the “Great Betrayer.”
Ktar ends up throwing Imann into the void as it begins to collapse.
The voice of the dark lord beyond calls out from the closing portal, “You have failed me, Ktar Deathbringer! Not time nor space will hide you from me! You will be my weapon in the end!”
During the battle, Ktar is impaled. As he dies, the mysterious red-haired woman holds his hand.
Sentenced by God
But wait! There’s more to this character’s redemption story.
After his death, Ktar hears a voice stating, “Rise and be judged, Ktar Deathbringer. You are dead, but have not passed into unlife.”
Ktar realizes he is suddenly standing on millions of humanoid skulls representing the people he murdered during his lifetime.
The voice (which seems to be DC’s version of God) gives Ktar a choice - either he can accept death as judgment, or he can live again. But he must reincarnate across space and time until he has saved as many lives as he has ended.
Each life he saves will bring him closer to his final death.
But God warns that he will be “doomed to an endless cycle of mortality with all the suffering and loss such an existence will bring.”
He chooses the latter. “I will pay my debt; I choose to live again,” he says.
The deal is struck, but with one more warning: The Deathbringers are not gone. They were merely imprisoned in a dark realm. One day they will return, because Ktar did not succeed in completely stopping them.
On Their Way
This ties into the end of Hawkman #6, where a winged creature was shown on a far-away world, asking “Where are you Great Betrayer?” Now we understand that the winged creature was Imann, and on the final page of #6, he decided to look for Ktar on Earth.
He and the Deathbringers are on their way.
Now, at the end of Hawkman #7, Hawkman is sitting in his shiny new spaceship, surprised by the origin story he just discovered but determined to defend his world from the Deathbringers when they come for revenge.
The character, who has been skipping through space and time during the previous six issues and visiting past lives, will next visit his past life as Catar-ol on Krypton. And he’s hoping that trip will supply him with a weapon to defeat the Deathbringers.
The story continues January 16, 2019 with Hawkman #8.