I am working my way through The Golden Age Hawkman Archives for the second time. The stories, from Flash Comics #1-22, are all written by Gardner Fox. The first three are illustrated by Dennis Neville, but the volume is notable mostly for the art by Sheldon Moldoff. The first time I read this volume I was struck by how many panels were swiped directly from Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant. This time through (I’ve read many more comic strip reprints since the first time), I’m struck by how many panels were swiped from Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon and Burne Hogarth’s Tarzan as well as Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant (and many others that look like swipes whose source I cannot identify), to the extent I wouldn’t be surprised if virtually every panel was swiped from one source or another.

There is one particular comic book artist who came to prominence in the ‘90s and was notorious for uncredited swipes (you probably know the one I mean), and he was generally ridiculed by fellow professionals and fans alike. OTOH, there is Wally Wood, who once famously said, "Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up." And that’s Wally Wood! The “hot” ‘90s artist is no Wally Wood by any stretch of the imagination, but what about Sheldon Moldoff?

Sheldon Moldoff wrote the introduction to the archive volume, and I tend to take him at his word when he professes the desire to elevate comic book art to the level of comic strip art of the time. In his introduction, he related the story of Al Williamson who, as a boy, lived in South America and had no access to American comic strips. One day his father gave him a copy of Flash Comics, however, and inspired him to become a comic book artist. (This story related by Moldoff how Williamson approached him at a con.) And you know what? Sheldon Moldoff’s art is more distinctive that that of most other artists of the Golden Age. I recall thinking that very thought the first time I read Flash Comics #1 and All-Star Comics #3 (reprinted as “treasury editions”).

It is jarring to me now, though, to go from King Arthur’s Camelot to Flash Gordon’s Mongo to Tarzan’s jungle at the turn of a page.

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The Silver Age Hawkman Archives volume one reprints the characters first 13 stories from the following 10 comics: The Brave & the Bold #34-36 , 42-44 and Mystery in Space #87-90. Joe Kubert drew all of the B&B appearance, and the feature was reassigned to Murphy Anderson for the move to Mystery in Space, but Carmine Infantino penciled #90. Garner fox wrote all the stories. Here is what series editor Julius Schwartz had to say about Gardner Fox: “Gardner Fox was a lawyer. I don’t recall whether he ever practiced law, but he had a lawyer’s mentality about him. He was organized, meticulous; he never walked into a room without knowing what he was going to say in there, and he never sat down to write a story without knowing every twist and turn it was going to take.” Me, I equate a Stan Lee script to free form jazz, whereas Fox’s scripts are as structured as a Bach cantata.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl returned to their home planet of Thanagar after their first three-issue tryout. #42 was set on Thanagar, then they returned to Earth. Joe Kubert art for these issues reminds me a cross between Don Heck and Alex Toth. When the Hawks were moved to Adam Strange’s title, Mystery in Space, they immediately had a “soft” crossover with the book’s lead feature in #87, followed by a full-blown crossover in #90.

TRIVIA: Katar Hol is 28 years old; the Thanagarian police corps has been in existence for 10 years; Thanagarian women wear earrings rather than wedding bands (which is actually a plot point in B&B #42 as well as MiS #88).

As much as I admire and appreciate Joe Kubert's work on Hawkman and it is dynamic, I must admit that I love Murphy Anderson's art more! Though DC preferred to use him as an inker (and for good reason as he was one of comics' greatest inkers), I would have liked to see him pencil more than he did. His Hawkman and Atomic Knights are among the best drawn of DC's Silver Age!

I remember reviewing the Showcase Presents Hawkman volumes here, and bring struck by several things:

* Hawkman had a very striking look. 

* Murphy Anderson's art was quite good. 

* Hawkmsn's villainds weren't much to write home about. Outside of IQ Quimby and the Shadow Thief, nobody particularly striking. 

* The biggest issue I can recall is that Hawkgirl was significantly more interesting than her male counterpart. Unlike Shiera who was basically cospkayong as a crime fighter, Shayera was the real deal. DC didn't really have any other warrior women at the time other than Wonder Woman (I'm not counting Supergirl or any Legionnaires) , and I think they missed the boat by not making her the lead, or at least not giving her more if a partnership role 

“I remember reviewing the Showcase Presents Hawkman volumes here…”

I remember that. Can you provide a link? I, for one, wouldn’t mind re-reading it.

“I think they missed the boat by not making her the lead…”

Of course they did do that very thing… eventually.

I'm working on it. I yhink it may have been on the old site, so it takes a little more effort .

Jeff of Earth-J said:

“I remember reviewing the Showcase Presents Hawkman volumes here…”

I remember that. Can you provide a link? I, for one, wouldn’t mind re-reading it.

I believe these are the first two covers to feature just Hawkgirl/woman

Hawkgirl had a couple of major guest shots as well!

I guess technically Hawkman is on this cover, but

Hawkgirl also appeared in the second series of Super Friends aka The All-New Super Friends Hour with Hawkman though she was first drawn off-model.

IIRC, one of the Justice League animated series included her but not Hawkman.

Yes, both Justice League and Justice League Unlimited featured Hawkgirl.

(Hawkman was eventually folded in for an ongoing character arc.)

Took a little time to find it. Here you go:

This was fun. I like the Golden Age Hawkman just fine (at least until he started wearing that cowl), but Katar and Shayera are the Hawks I grew up with.

So, Hawkman is your basic baaaad man, and Hawkgirl might be even tougher. The stories are mostly fun and all quite solid, delivered quite well by Gardner Fox. They vary between reasonably solid science fiction and nice detective work as well. Hawkman and Hawkgirl don't prevail because they're stronger or have more powers than anyone else, but rather because they utilize their brains to overcome their foes.

Admittedly the villains aren't anything special (save for one or two exceptions), but that fits the Hawks motif nicely. Facing off mostly against extra-terrestrials and mobsters was a good niche for them to operate in, and I can't think of a single story where they did anything that seemed unbelievable (well, except for the Matter Master, who should have easily been able to dispatch half the Justice League with ease).

I very much enjoyed the villains Shadow Thief and the I.Q. gang. The former showed himself to be extremely ruthless--in his second adventure, he's quite willing and eager to destroy the world for his own gains. The latter was an interesting villain in the mode of the Mad Thinker or the Riddler, attempting to defeat the Hawks purely through his own brain power.

I do wonder why these comics didn't sell better. The scripting was quite solid, the stories are very entertaining, mot much else to say. I wouldn't call it a "must-have" but I do think it's a very solid collection of entertaining stories.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

“I remember reviewing the Showcase Presents Hawkman volumes here…”

I remember that. Can you provide a link? I, for one, wouldn’t mind re-reading it.

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