Hawkman returns to DC Comics with his own series this week. The newest volume for this winged avenger will be crafted by writer Robert Venditti (X-O Manowar, Green Lantern) and artist Bryan Hitch (The Authority, The Ultimates). Together the pair have promised a great starting point for new and returning readers, spinning directly out of the events of Dark Nights: Metal.
The concept of a starting point is very important when it comes to Hawkman. Almost no character from the Golden Age has received more origins and reimaginings than this one hero. These have gone from classic superhero fare to mystical Egyptian tragedy to space odysseys, each bringing their own charm, but complicating the continuity.
While that makes it difficult to know where to find accessible Hawkman stories, it’s also something we can help with. In order to celebrate another fresh start for Hawkman and his high-flying adventures, we have rounded up the best Hawkman stories from the past. Each of these tales offers any reader a great introduction to Hawkman and a slightly different spin on what makes him heroic. So if you’re looking for more Hawkman after reading the newest issue this Wednesday, be sure to check out some of these stories as well.
Hawkworld (vol. 1) #1-3
Written by Tim Truman
Art by Enrique Alcatena and Sam Parsons
This is the gold standard for Hawkman recommendations. While there were more comics to follow under the same title, this initial three-issue miniseries completely reimagined the Hawkman mythos in an accessible and incredibly engaging fashion. The hero became an interstellar police officer, part of a much larger force of winged officials with their own technology and politics. While Hawkman has never been able to shed his earthly affiliations and resurrection cycle for long, this story offers the single most compelling introduction of the character without any of those elements.
Hawkworld (vol. 2) #1-6
Written by Tim Truman and John Ostrander
Art by Graham Nolan
It’s almost unfair to mention these issues as DC Comics has left them out of print and without any digital adaptations for far too long. However, the continuation of the original Hawkworld miniseries in an ongoing format is too good to forget. John Ostrander (Suicide Squad) co-wrote the first six issues before taking over the series, offering his own take with plenty of violence and prescient politics. As far as buried gems go, there are few in superhero comics that shine brighter or are buried more deeply than the entire second volume of Hawkworld. If you are ever lucky enough to see these in a stack of back issues, don’t hesitate to pick them up.
Legend of the Hawkman (vol. 1) #1-3
Written by Ben Raab
Art by Michael Lark
If it wasn’t for Hawkworld, this would be the gold standard for introductory mini-series with winged superheroes. This series may serve readers interested in the complex history of Hawkman better as it takes a long view of the hero’s career with a new element focused upon in each issue. In addition to making sense of the key elements of Hawkman’s convoluted history, it also offers some truly stunning artwork from Michael Lark, still early in his career. While this story isn’t technically in continuity, it covers the most material in the briefest and most entertaining fashion. You won’t even notice where there are gaps in continuity from the mainstream of DC Comics.
JSA (vol. 1) #22-25
Written by Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer
Art by Rags Morales, Stephen Sadowski, and Michael Bair
One of writer Geoff Johns’ greatest skills is reconstructing the history behind superheroes. That was apparent throughout his run on JSA, especially in this three-part story (and prologue) that returned Hawkman to the team he founded. In addition to carving out a new space for the hero in DC Comics, this story also built connections between his long history and other key characters at DC Comics. There has been no better modern era for Hawkman than when Johns and his collaborators took him under their wing.
Hawkman (vol. 4) #1-6
Written by Geoff Johns and James Robinson
Art by Rags Morales and Michael Bair
Johns’ interest in the character continued in a collaboration with writer James Robinson. Together the two legacy-oriented writers presented Hawkman to a new generation of readers, telling stirring adventures that also reassembled the characters rogues gallery and history. The complete run is collected in two omnibus volumes, but these first six issues offer an excellent introduction to what the run is all about.
Hawkman (vol. 4) #27
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips
After Johns and Robinson left, the unbeatable comics team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips crafted a one-shot story that looks at a former life in the Hawkman history. It is steeped in the noir tropes and tones that define this duo’s work, and offers a bold new take on who Hawkman is. By changing the style so dramatically, they present the flexibility of the character and offer a possible explanation as to why no one origin sticks for long. It’s also a great, quick read no matter how interested in Hawkman’s history you might be.
The Shadow War of Hawkman (vol. 1) #1-4, Hawkman Special (vol. 1) #1
Written by Tony Isabella
Art by Richard Howell and Alfredo Alcala
This often overlooked miniseries provides both a great adventure and look at the rift between Hawkman and his alien, Thanagarian roots. In addition to the war between Hawkman and his native planet, it also pulls in a wide array of DC Comics heroes, exposing Hawkman’s relationships with many key allies. Of the many Hawkman comics from the Bronze Age and earlier, few have aged better than these five issues.
Brightest Day (vol. 1) #0-24
Written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi
Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Patrick Gleason, and others
While not technically a Hawkman story, his role in this weekly event is a highlight from the past decade, one in which Hawkman has largely been absent or only presented in lackluster comics. Johns return to one of his favorite characters put him at the forefront of this adventure and made the lineage of Hawkworld an important sub-plot. While many ramifications of “Blackest Night” might have been wiped away, this story holds up with great plot threads for many B-list DC Comics characters, including Hawkman.