Golden Takeoff

The Golden Age Hawkman Archives Volume 1

Writer: Gardner Fox
Artist: Dennis Neville, Sheldon Moldoff

by Avi Green

Finally, I've been able to obtain and read something that gives the Winged Warriors real meaning, and that's Carter Hall and Sheira Sanders' original appearances, dating back to the Golden Age in 1940, when they debuted alongside Jay Garrick in Flash Comics (you could also include Johnny Thunder, who did become a significant member of the Justice Society for a time, but that's another story). This early trade compilation from 2005 collected the stories from issues 1-22, and it's to be hoped that someday, the whole run (which also includes 2 stories from All-Star 1 and 2, and a special from the Big All-American Comic Book in 1944), will see the reprints they deserve.

So anyway, we're introduced to how Carter and Shiera were originally a prince and princess from ancient Egypt in the premiere issue's tale, and in the 20th century, they're reincarnated, the former as a scientist and historian, and the latter as a news writer. And they're not the only ones who've returned in this era. Even the Egyptian priest who betrayed and murdered them in the ancient eras has been reincarnated as an agent of the German National Socialists named Anton Hastor. It's up to our hero and heroine to stop him.

And this would be just the start of an entertaining run during the Golden Age, where they'd take on organized crime, and science-fiction devices, which also had significant presence in various Golden Age tales. Here, it includes one where a villain called Alexander the Great tries to invent a weight-increasing weapon, and another where a criminal scientist tries to manufacture something similar to zombies. Issues 5-6 have a story that's an early example of one that's told in at least 2 parts, a rarity in those days, as Carter comes to the rescue of a lady secret agent who travels to a hidden city, and later gets taken hostage by Moslem slavemongers in north Africa. There's another in 9 where an underwater race called the Kogats try to invade the USA, and in 13, Carter must rescue Shiera from a villainess who's developed a plan for transferring human brains into animals like tigers. And in 21, they face off against the egg of an alien race whose spacecraft crash-landed on earth. Quite amazing stories for their time indeed!

All stories are told in single-digit length of about 9 pages, and while they may not have been that long, that's the beauty of it, that in those days, they could tell in 5 pages what today is more likely to to be told in 15. It's important to consider that shorter stories can still have big payoffs. And the artwork by primary artist Neville, and succeeding artist Moldoff, is very good too. The latter would eventually be succeeded by Joe Kubert in late 1944, who'd continue to draw a lot of the entries till the end of the Golden Age run, and later took up the Silver Age illustration tasks as well, when Gardner Fox developed the Thanagarian take on the Winged Warrior.

To date, this is the only official reprint volume I know of for the original Golden Age tales. As stated above, I hope these, along with the rest of the stories, will eventually see the full reprints they deserve, and that way, we'll also get to see when Shiera first officially took up the Hawkgirl role, which began when she donned one of Carter's own outfits as a special decoy gimmick in 24, and later made more of her own costume to join him in crimefighting. These are all very entertaining tales, and if you want to see real storytelling in motion, that's why you should buy reprints of these stories from the Golden/Silver/Bronze/Iron Ages, not what came later, when political correctness totally ruined everything during the Zero Hour crossover of 1994, and Geoff Johns/Rags Morales' Hawkman stories are no improvement, because they went along with what was established then, and their stories, as I've since reevaluated and concluded, were supremely pretentious. To get an idea what makes a really good story, that's you should turn to these early classics, and that's how to get an idea how to mend the harm that came decades later. So, good luck in finding all these early Hawkman treasures. They're well worth the price of admission.

Copyright 2023 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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