REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS HAWK AND DOVE
I'll admit, I was never that big a fan of HAWK & DOVE. For starters, when these heroes first came on the scene, it was the perilous '60's, and I was just a little kid and I'd barely discovered comic books. My very first comic book, in 1967, was an issue of "Walt Disney's Comics & Stories", which usually featured Scrooge McDuck. I knew Superman and Batman as TV characters. Only later did I discover comic books of them.
For another thing, as the names of the title characters might imply, HAWK & DOVE had more than its fair share of political overtones -- and that's never been why I've read comic books -- or partaken of any other form of pop culture entertainment. Sometimes it's more easily avoided than at other times.
The fact that DC seems to be throwing a fair measure of it into some of their titles, along with making them "edgier" or what ever, is now keeping me away from them to a significant degree.
A title like HAWK & DOVE seems to have some pretty strong political tendencies right from the start. I'm honestly not sure where it was that the image of a hawk became affiliated with aggression and warfare. Yes, a hawk is a bird of prey, a hunter. Maybe someone decided that this made it an appropriate image, and didn't want to use another well known bird of prey, the eagle, since that already represented all of America.
Nevertheless, the two characters are an established part of the DC Universe, and when they both received figures in the 20th and final retail wave of Mattel's DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS line of action figures, I decided to bring them into my collection. The figures are sold separately, and it's not often that I review two separately-packaged figures in one review. But in this case, it would be rather impractical to review them on their own, so on this occasion, I'm combining the two figures into a single review.
Let's consider the history of Hawk & Dove, keeping in mind that there's been more than one person assuming each role over the years.
Hawk and Dove is the name given to two superheroes when they team up to fight crime. Hawk and Dove describes each character's attitude or approach to fighting crime. The hawk represents aggression, and the dove represents pacifism.
Created by Steve Ditko and Steve Skeates, brothers Hank and Don Hall first appeared in Showcase #75 (June 1968). The pair gained their powers of heightened strength and agility from a mysterious voice (later, Secret Origins #43 explained the voice was from two Lords of Chaos and Order who had fallen in love) and fought crime together as Hawk and Dove, despite their diametrically opposed opinions about the use of force. The conservative Hawk (Hank) was hot-headed and reactionary, whereas the liberal Dove (Don) was more thoughtful and reasoned, but prone to indecisiveness. Their father, Judge Irwin Hall, displayed more balanced political beliefs and firmly disapproved of vigilantism, not knowing his sons were costumed adventurers.
Their own title, The Hawk and the Dove, ran for six issues from 1968 to 1969. Ditko only plotted the first issue and left after the second. Skeates was unhappy with the direction the book was taking, feeling that Don was being portrayed as an ineffective wimp, rather than a pro-active pacifist. Ditko by contrast felt that Skeates had turned Hawk into a fool whose answer to every problem was unreasoning violence, compared to the liberal Dove. Ditko had wanted a more balanced approach, showing that both "hawks" and "doves" had valid points. Skeates would leave after the fourth issue, leaving artist Gil Kane as writer through the last issue.
After their series ended, they became semi-regulars in the Teen Titans, eventually joining Titans West. Writer Alan Brennert attempted to end their saga in a 1982 issue of The Brave and the Bold where, 12 years later, Hank and Don Hall are now adults. After teaming up with Batman, the mysterious voice revokes Hank and Don's powers. This was later intentionally disregarded with a joke (where Don notes everyone says they look older) in New Teen Titans #50, when it was realized this real time aging of Hank and Don would affect the Teen Titans as well.
Dove died in 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths while saving a young boy being attacked by the Anti-Monitor's shadow demons. The creature that killed him came from behind and Hawk was too far away to do anything about it. A statue of Don is part of the memorial at Titans Tower in San Francisco. Hawk continued on his own, but without Dove to restrain him, he became excessively violent to the point where many of the superhero community considered him nearly as much trouble as the supervillains.
In 1988, a new Hawk and Dove mini-series written by Karl and Barbara Kesel reintroduced Hawk and Dove. This series introduced a woman named Dawn Granger as the second Dove. The new Dove mysteriously received her powers while attempting to save her mother from terrorists. At the end of the mini-series, it was revealed that Dawn received her powers the moment Don had been stripped of them.
This Dove, while considerably more aggressive and self-confident than Don, also has greater-than-average strength and dexterity, faster-than-human speed, and expanded mental capabilities. Dove fights mostly defensively, preferring to out-think and remain in control of her opponent.
Like Hawk, she also heals incredibly quickly and cannot revert to Dawn if her wounds or some other condition would be fatal to Dawn. It was later revealed that Hawk and Dove become beings that are direct conduits of the respective planes of Chaos and Order.
Set in Washington, D.C. (where the duo attended Georgetown University), the series introduced several supporting characters, including Hank's girlfriend, Ren Takamori, and friends Kyle Spenser and Donna Cabot. They also worked with police Captain Brian "Sal" Arsala, who would develop a mutual admiration with Dawn. It also introduced Kestrel, an evil spell created by M'Shulla, and Barter, owner of Barter Trading: Exotic Goods and Services.
In issues #14-17 of the ongoing series, Kestrel, in the body of Ren Takamori, lured Hawk and Dove to the mystical land of Druspa Tau — also home to the Lords of Chaos and Order. Hawk and Dove cut a deal with Barter to transverse dimensions to Druspa Tau. There, the two were able to remove their costumes, revealing their true forms, and found their abilities were heightened exponentially. They arrived as a war was brewing between M'Shulla, the Lord of Chaos, and followers of Arriya, the Lord of Order.
Finding themselves on opposite sides, Hawk and Dove were forced to do battle. M'Shulla tells a captive Rome that he cast a spell long ago, and that Arriya is not the name of Druspa Tau's former Order goddess. No one knows her true name any longer, and therefore she cannot return to Druspa Tau. Just as M'Shulla is about to claim final victory, Barter tells Rome the true name of the world's Lord of Order: Terataya. Her name is spoken and a dragon wearing an amulet appears. The dragon/amulet is a combined being: Terataya, Lord of Order, and T'Charr, Lord of Chaos, and is now called the Unity. The Unity is unable to sustain the fight with M'Shulla, because it is maintaining the Hawk and Dove spell at the same time. M'Shulla deals the Unity a fatal blow and it retreats to a hidden cave.
Dove is able to use her logical powers to see how the Kestrel demon is attached to Ren, and then separate them. Hawk then absorbs the Kestrel force (as it is part of Chaos, and Hawk is one with the primal source of Chaos while on Druspa Tau), effectively annihilating it and freeing Ren. Hawk and Dove then fly off to find the Unity, leaving Ren behind. In the cave where the Unity hides, Hawk and Dove find their creators, T'Charr and Terataya, dying. The Unity explains that it created Hawk and Dove to prove to the other Lords of Chaos and Order that the two forces could work together. It did this because T'Charr and Terataya are in love and have been hunted by their respective houses ever since. However, because they are dying, Hawk and Dove must absorb the essence of their respective creators. This merging gave both Hawk and Dove enhanced powers, but it meant there would be no new Hawk or Dove if either of the current heroes died. Hawk and Dove also learned their abilities were upgraded: Dove could fly, and Hawk was stronger and bulletproof.
In 1991, in an editorial snafu concerning the mini-series Armageddon 2001, word leaked out that the central time-traveling villain of the piece, known as Monarch, was actually Captain Atom. Monarch had originally been conceived as a future identity of Captain Atom. Waverider had even "checked" Hawk's future in Hawk and Dove Annual #2, which had them fighting Monarch, eliminating them as possible candidates. In a last-ditch effort to provide a "surprise twist", DC changed the storyline. Sales of Hawk and Dove had dipped and the series was slotted for cancellation, so Monarch's identity was revealed as the future Hank Hall. Monarch attacked Hawk and Dove and managed to murder Dawn in front of Hank, causing him to suffer the psychotic break, kill Monarch, and assume the villainous identity. He briefly became a recurring foe for Captain Atom before absorbing Waverider's time-travel powers, subsequently changing his form and name to Extant in Zero Hour. As Extant, Hawk murdered several members of the Justice Society of America; during a rematch however, Atom Smasher used the New God Metron's Mobius Chair to transfer Hall onto a doomed plane in place of the Atom Smasher's mother which exploded due to the terrorist actions of Kobra. Despite his crimes and lives taken by him, a statue of him is present in the Titans Tower memorial in San Francisco.
In response to fan-criticism of Armageddon 2001, many of whose readers felt that the character of Hawk had been severely misused in the story's last-minute changes, DC Comics set about restoring the character as he had originally been intended; a hero. DC had already retconned Extant's portion of Hank Hall's timeline in issue 14 of JSA, dated September 2000, in which Metron announced his intention to erase the villain's "wretched timeline" with his Mobius Chair.
After this, DC also retconned Monarch's portion of Hall's timeline with the final issue of the 6-part miniseries Battle for Blüdhaven, dated September 2006, which now depicted Captain Atom's transformation into Monarch, as had been DC's original intention back in 1991. Hawk was restored, but he would not be revived until the final issue of Blackest Night.
In 2003, JSA #45-50 told of a mysterious woman in a coma who was taken into the care of the Justice Society. Initially thought to be the comatose body of Hector Hall's missing wife, Hippolyta Trevor, the woman was revealed to be none other than the presumed-dead Dawn Granger. Dawn's "death" was revealed to be a hoax orchestrated by the villain Mordru, who was also revealed to have caused Hank's insanity. Dawn later gained a new partner when her estranged and aggressive British sister, Holly Granger, was granted the mystical powers of Chaos, becoming the third Hawk. Holly's first appearance was in Teen Titans vol. 3, #22-23, joining her sister. The duo later re-teamed with the Titans to rescue Raven's "soul self" from their old nemesis, Kestrel.
In Blackest Night #2, multiple black power rings attempt to reanimate the body of Don Hall, only to be prevented from disturbing his grave by an invisible barrier. As they collide with the barrier, the rings' typical command, "Rise!" is interrupted; the rings instead respond, "Don Hall of Earth at peace." This is the first depiction of the black power rings failing to recruit a member for the Black Lantern Corps. Though Don rejects the black rings, his brother Hank's corpse accepts his with humor: "Same old, same old, huh, bro? Hawk's got to do all the dirty work himself."
In Blackest Night: Titans #1, Hank lures Holly and Dawn to a library with a trail of dead hawks and doves. As Hank attacks, Dawn claims he is not what he says he is; pointing out that the real Hank would know that she is almost impossible to hit. Hank is also unable to read Dawn's emotions, her aura depicted as being white rather than a color from the emotional spectrum. Holly is not able to confront Hank as deftly, the issue concluding with him plunging his hand into her left breast to remove her heart. A black ring then claims Holly's body. The two Black Lantern Hawks prove too much for Dawn and she retreats, with the two giving chase.
Dove goes to Titans Tower, only to find it under attack by more Black Lantern Titans. Holly and Hank catch up to her and resume their attack. When Holly attempts to rip out Dawn's heart, a blast of white energy radiates from her body, severing the connection between Holly and the ring. Dawn then turns the light on the other Black Lanterns, destroying all but Black Lanterns Terra, Tempest, and Hank. The effort causes Dawn to pass out. While unconscious, she has a vision of Don, who tells her that she can save Hank, and to not give up on him.
Dawn, along with the rest of the Titans, joins the Justice League in battling the Black Lanterns at Coast City. She is able to destroy Black Lanterns with her very presence. The Flash witnesses Dawn's fight with the undead army and realizes that she possesses the "white light of creation" as mentioned by Indigo-1, a power believed to be created by the combined seven powers of the emotional spectrum. The Flash then orders every hero nearby to protect her at all cost, believing that she could be the key to their victory against the Black Lanterns.
During the battle, Dove's white energies are pulled away from her, right into the Black Lanterns' central power battery, under the auspices of the being trapped inside. The being is eventually revealed to be the villainous Anti-Monitor, who was missing after the Sinestro Corps War. Dove aids the seven Corps members to defeat the cosmic entity before resuming their battle with the Black Lantern Corps. In the aftermath of the final battle, Hank is brought back to life by the power of the white light.
As to their powers and abilities, Dove possesses an ability known as danger sense transformation. When in the presence of danger, whether to herself or others, Dawn Granger can call out the word "Dove" and be transformed into her Dove form.
The transformation changes Granger into a minor force of Order and she gains some brilliant avian physical characteristics, which are usually hidden under her costume.
Dove is also hypervigilant; her natural aptitudes are enhanced, such as her ability as a good judge of people and, in some situations, allowing her to read people and objects within seconds, and know how they will act and react. In addition to flight, she also has enhanced agility and durability
She also possesses the White Light of Creation. It is unknown whether this power is an extension of her radiance ability, but during the Blackest Night crisis, Dove was able to channel this particular force and destroy Black Lanterns as well as block a Black Lantern's aura reading power.
Hawk possesses the powers of Chaos, superhuman strength, speed, stamina, invulnerability and claws.
So, how are the figures? Excellent. Both are superb renditions of their respective likenesses. At this point, I would like to separate them and consider each individually.
HAWK - I've never been entirely sure why Hawk's costume colors were red and white. I've never seen a hawk that color. Granted, if Hawk looked too much like a hawk, he'd probably tick off Hawkman, and that's not something you really want to do.
Hawk's costume is mostly white, although the figure's costume is more of a very pale gray. This isn't terribly unusual. On any number of figures in the DC Universe Classics line, Mattel has chosen to -- how might I describe this -- darken the spectrum by a notch or two in order to perhaps convey a greater sense of realism to the figures. Usually, the color this most often happens to is red. Perhaps they felt they needed to darken the white a bit in order to keep up with it.
Hawk is wearing a white cowl with angular red trim around the face. His eyes are blank white, and the lower portion of his face is visible, complete with gritted teeth.
The figure uses the standard make hero body molds common to a large percentage of the make figures in the DC Universe Classics line. Honestly, I've always appreciated this consistency.
Hawk's costume is mostly white (or pale fray if you want to nit-pick), with red angular details around the top, trunks, gloves, and boots The pattern around the gloves and boots is pretty much just a jagged line. The red details around the top and trunks has some angular and curved details, that as much as anything I think are meant to look like talons.
Hawk has an extremely unusual red cape, if it can even be called a cape. It sweeps up over his shoulders, and then angles down in six long, tapering streams. I don't want to call them feathers. They don't look like feathers, nor do I think they serve any practical purpose.
Attaching this piece to the figure was rather cleverly done. Since capes are traditionally secured to the upper back of DC Universe Classics figures, the center part of this -- cape -- was designed to match the angular pattern of Hawk's costume. Thus it is secured to the back of the figure, while also matching the costume pattern. It's also secured on the front, but here, it looks more like the beginnings of a cape, which is still in keeping with the overall design. Really, this was very impressively done.
Paintwork is excellent. The fairly complex red detailing, which especially around the trunks has to cross numerous parts of the figure, is superbly well done, and very precise. Overall, this is a superb action figure representation of the character.
DOVE - No great surprise the Dove figure represents Dawn Grainger, who, while perhaps not the first Dove, is certainly the best-known modern dove. I should mention that Don Hall did appear in the Justice League Unlimited animated series, and there are Justice League figures of Hank and Don Hall as Hawk and Dove.
As Dove, Grainer has long white hair, tied off in the back. As ever, the Four Horsemen show their considerable skill in sculpting this sort of detail, coming up with a long and flowing ponytail that almost surely gave the people creating the mold for this piece a bad moment or two.
The figure uses the standard body molds for most female figures in the DC Universe Classics line. Again, the consistency is appreciated. Admittedly, the female figures in the line haven't had quite as much consistency as the males. You have larger figures such as Wonder Woman, and complex pieces such as found in Black Canary and Zatanna, and then there's the heavily armored Big Barda, but there is enough of a consistency there, which is shared by Dove.
The main uniform colors for Dove are light blue and white. Again, I'm not entirely sure why these colors were chosen. The white on Dove's costume is a bit of a light gray, but not as much as Hawk's costume, and the light blue is a very straightforward light blue.
Her mask is unusual, in that it features extremely large white eyes. Honestly, the look is a little off-putting in my opinion. It looks like an artistic exaggeration, but since multiple artists have used it, I suppose it's just how it's supposed to be. Frankly, I think this sort of big-eyed look is better left with Spider-Man.
She does have a touch of dark red on her -- lipstick. Fortunately, the same cannot be said of Hawk.
Dove's costume is not quite as ornate as Hawk's, although it is something of a color reversal. Instead of being mostly white with color trim, hers is mostly the color -- in this case the aforementioned light blue -- with white trim. The white gloves and boots are similar to Hawk's, in that they are jagged at the top, but it's more of a curved jagged look. She also has some curved jagged trim around her trunks.
Instead of the unusual cape, Dove has an interesting sort of collar, that extends over her shoulders and partway down her back. I suppose if one wanted to stretch the definition, it could be described as an exceptionally short cape. It forms a collar around her neck, and then spreads out in a sort of curved, feathered look, over her shoulders, and down the back. There is what looks like a small blue gemstone at the region of her throat. This particular piece is white.
As with Hawk, the painted details are superbly done, although I suspect they weren't quite as tricky. However, the trunk detailing does go from the lower torso to the mid-torso, so that had to be carefully matched up.
Of course, both Hawk and Dove have excellent articulation. Both figures are fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
So, what's my final word? The political overtones of these two characters, and how they've often been written, may have irked me from time to time, but there's no question that the figures have been superbly done. They're sold separately, but obviously, if you're going to get one of them, you really should have both of them, and they are both readily available in Wave 20 of DC Universe Classics. I'm pleased to have them as part of my collection, and if you're a fan of DC Universe Classics, I'm confident you'll like them, too.
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS figures of HAWK & DOVE definitely have my highest recommendation!