Last week, I covered a lesser creation of Jack Kirby’s for DC.
Kirby wasn’t the only classic Marvel creator to whip up a weird, sometimes forgettable hero for DC. Steve Ditko did too, and that leads us to Hawk and Dove.
Originally presented as the Hawk and the Dove, Hawk and Dove were Hank and Don Hall, two brothers who philosophically didn’t agree on much of anything. Created by Ditko with writer Steve Skeates while the Vietnam war was raging on. As evidenced by their names, Hank/Hawk was for the war and Don/Dove was a pacifist. That led to problems I’ll get to in a minute, but the basic idea may have been the two brothers, unable to agree on much of anything, would maybe have their father, a middle-of-the-road judge, would act as a moderating force between his two bickering boys.
So, what was the problem? Skeates said in an interview many years after the fact that his scripts were often altered to give Hawk the heroic moments. Skeates often wanted to give those moments to Dove, but due to what he felt was a misunderstanding of the character, the scenes were often rewritten to give the hotheaded Hawk the heroic moments and to make the bleeding-heart Dove essentially useless, unable to do much of anything.
The original Hawk and Dove series ran a full six issues, with Ditko leaving after the second. After that, the two were occasional members of the Teen Titans, and then the original Crisis came along and started to make some changes to the pair.
For starters, Don died in the Crisis.
So, that was that right? Well, it was until a new Dove showed up.
The second Dove was Dawn Granger, and she didn’t necessarily mind fighting, but acted more out of self-defense. The basic idea was that Hawk and Dove were representatives of the Lords of Chaos and Order, respectively. If danger loomed for themselves or someone nearby, they could change into their superhero alter-egos by saying their superhero name and reverting back shortly after the danger passed. Hawk had superhuman strength, speed, and durability, while Dove had that and maybe flight and some other powers as well.
That run went for a while and ended with summer crossover Armageddon 2001, and oh man therein lies a tale. See, the main plot of that one was that time traveler Waverider came from the future year of 2001 (it was 1991 then) and knew a superhero would betray the rest and become world dictator Monarch, but he didn’t know who. Waverider could travel the time stream and with physical contact see a person’s future, so he tested multiple heroes including Hawk and Dove. What he saw was if he touched Hawk alone, Hawk would fight Monarch and barely escape with his life. Dove, likewise, could not defeat Monarch in her future. But touch both together and they would have a daughter who could easily beat Monarch. That was that.
What went wrong? Well, Captain Atom was supposed to be Monarch, but there was a leak so the issue was changed at the last minute and Hawk became Monarch after Monarch traveled back to 1991 and killed Dove. Hawk then killed Monarch and in his grief decided to become Monarch himself. That would seem to contradict the events of their own annual, but we could always argue Waverider saw a metaphorical future where the only way to defeat Monarch was for Hawk and Dove to stay together. Since Hawk may have been in love with Dove, losing her caused him to crack.
Later on, Hawk would become Exant and even die himself battling the Justice Society, though that was rematch after he killed a few members of that venerable group during Zero Hour.
So, that’s it for Hawk and Dove, right? Well, there was a weird interim team that only appeared extremely sporadically…
But then the Justice Society actually found the second Dove, Dawn Granger. She was never killed! Monarch put her into a deathlike state because he could never bear to kill his partner! Awakened, she actually found a new Hawk in the former of her long-lost half-sister Holly, who was not only belligerent but also British.
Then came Blackest Night where the cosmic entity Nekron was causing the dead to rise as Black Lanterns. The Hank Hall Hawk woke up as one, but his brother Don the Dove was the lone being in the entire universe so at peace with his death that he couldn’t be revived. As an added bonus, Dawn the Dove could disintegrate the nearly indestructible Black Lanterns just with her presence. Granted, she didn’t figure that out right away, and then her old resurrected partner killed her sister and new partner and made a Black Lantern out of her as well. Blackest Night ended with twelve characters brought back from the dead. Hank was one. Holly was not.
So, now we’re back to the second team of Hank and Dawn.
And that’s the team we still have. When the New 52 came along, they even got another shot at another series drawn by Rob Liefeld.
That seems more like a punishment than anything else.