WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Hawkman #23, by Robert Venditti, Marco Takara, Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert, Jeremy Cox and Rob Leigh, available now.
Change is one of the few constants in life, especially for someone like Hawkman. Because of a curse that’s cursed him to an endless cycle of reincarnations, Hawkman has been everything from a reincarnated Egyptian prince to a Thanagarian space cop and everything in between in his many, many lives.
Throughout his various lives and status quo shifts, he has also had a companion in the form of Hawkwoman. This woman, whose name is always a variant of Shiera or Shayera, has played many roles for Hawkman. She’s been his partner, sidekick and even his superior officer, but perhaps the most important role that she’s taken has been Hawkman’s lover.
While she hasn’t really been part of Hawkman’s life in that way in recent years, that changed with Hawkman #23, where a restored Hawkwoman finally acted upon lifetimes’ worth of love and lovingly embraced her once-and-future love.
In Hawkman #19, Hawkwoman came to Earth to intercept a clearly corrupted Hawkman. This variant of the hero was the villainous Sky Tyrant, the Earth-3 Crime Syndicate equivalent of Hawkman that had taken over Carter’s body due to the Batman Who Laugh’s poisoning. This led Hawkwoman to begin working alongside the Atom and Adam Strange, while Sky Tyrant sought an ancient artifact on an alien world guarded by a gigantic Hawkman alien. Sky Tyrant retrieves the item, but is eventually apprehended by Hawkwoman.
Shayera begins to read Carter’s Black Journal, which contains the knowledge of his lifetimes. Growing curious from the book’s entry on the artifact, she decides to inspect it firsthand. This issues a powerful concussive wave of memories for Shayera, who finally realizes the extent to which she’s intertwined in Carter’s different lives. Much as Hawkman had seen visions of all of his previous lives in an earlier issue, Shayera has the same upon touching the artifact in Hawkman #22.
This also frees Sky Tyrant from his prison, leading to a battle for the artifact, and for the fate of millions of lives in the galaxy that Sky Tyrant threatened to decimate. The evil wingman gets the upper hand, almost killing Shayera, before Carter regains some control of his body. Shayera and Sky Tyrant touch the artifact at the same time, transporting them to parts unknown. After having a vision of their lives as plague doctors in the 17th century, Carter wakes up himself again, with the influence of Sky Tyrant seemingly removed. Thanking his Thanagarian partner for saving him again, Carter wakes up, and the pair passionately kiss.
In showcasing Hawkman’s true origins, the series has also done the same for Hawkwoman, showing just how far back the two go. Katal Hol, or Carter Hall, was originally Ktar Deathbringer, one of the fiercest of the intergalactic Deathbringer warriors who had theretofore wrought death and destruction upon the cosmos. During his violent raids, Ktar was always watched and judged by a mysterious redheaded woman, who comes to scold him on his chosen path. When Ktar finally turned against the Deathbringers, paying the ultimate price in the process, this woman returns to his side as he dies for the first time. Afterwards, his cycle of reincarnation begins so that he can begin to atone for the myriad of lives that he had taken.
Throughout their reincarnations, Hawkwoman has made a habit of saving Hawkman in his most desperate moments. After seemingly helping him beat the Sky Tyrant here, she’s saved her beloved once again. While there’s no telling if this romance is here to stay or merely a momentary embrace, these two share a loving bond that not even death can bring an end to, and they’ll find each other again, even if they fall apart.
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As Hawkman finally deals with his dark legacy, the Justice League hero reignites one of DC's longest-simmering romances.