REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS HAWKGIRL
Series 8 of Mattel's excellent line of DC Universe Classics has, at least around here, proven to be somewhat elusive. And, as ever, one of the more elusive figures in the assortment, as with most of the assortments, has been the obligatory female. For this assortment, that character is HAWKGIRL!
Hawkgirl has had almost as tumultuous a time in the DC Universe as Hawkman. The character gained greater prominence in recent years when she was selected to be one of the major players in the Justice League animated series, and indeed, this figure is inspired by that version of Hawkgirl, Shayera Hol, far more than the most recent incarnation of the character in the comics, who goes by the name of Kendra Saunders.
Let's see if Wikipedia can help sort out the character of Hawkgirl for us a bit: Hawkgirl is the name of several female fictional superhero characters, all existing in that company's DC Universe. The character is one of the first costumed female superheroes. All of them are partners, and sometimes spouses or lovers, of the various incarnations of Hawkman.
Shiera Sanders first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (1940) as a civilian supporting character in the Hawkman feature. Archaeologist Carter Hall has a dream that he is an ancient Egyptian prince, Khufu, who has a lover, Princess Chay-Ara. The next day, Carter meets a woman named Shiera who looks exactly like the woman in his dream. Carter dons the identity of Hawkman and Shiera becomes Carter's girlfriend. Shiera first appears in costume in All Star Comics #5 during Hawkman's solo segment of the Justice Society of America story. Shiera dons a spare set of Nth metal wings developed by Hawkman, and masquerades as Hawkman in order to trick some criminals. Shiera continues to wear the costume and wings in later stories, eventually adopting the identity of Hawkgirl.
Although the Golden Age character has little to do with this Hawkgirl figure, thanks to all of the various retcons over the years, of which Hawkman and Hawkgirl both seem to have been the targets of more frequently than some DC characters, there are some aspects of this backstory that apply even today, including the Egyptian connection and the Chay-Ara name.
At this point, we turn to the Silver Age, since that one is largely the most applicable to the character, with a few modern aspects thrown in, as well.
In 1956, DC Comics resurrected the Flash by revamping the character with a new identity and backstory. Following the success of the new Flash, DC Comics revamped Hawkman in a similar fashion with Brave and the Bold #34 in 1961. The Silver Age versions of Hawkman and Hawkgirl became married alien police officers from the planet Thanagar who come to Earth in order study police techniques. Silver Age Hawkgirl is introduced as Shayera Hol (phonetically identical to Shiera Hall), who appears in costume as of her first appearance. Although Silver Age Hawkman joins the Justice League of America with Justice League of America #31 in 1964, Silver Age Hawkgirl was not offered membership because Justice League rules only allowed for one new member to be admitted at a time. Several years later, Silver Age Hawkgirl joined the Justice League of America with issue #146 in 1977. In 1981, Silver Age Hawkgirl changed her name to Hawkwoman in the Hawkman backup feature of World's Finest #274.
With the establishment of DC's multiverse system, the Golden Age Hawkgirl was said to have lived on Earth-Two and the Silver Age Hawkgirl on Earth-One. Although Golden Age Hawkman makes his first Silver Age appearance during the first JLA/JSA teamup in 1961 and continues making appearances during the annual JLA/JSA teamups, Golden Age Hawkgirl does not reappear until 1976, in the revival of the All Star Comics monthly comic. During the publication gap between the cancellation of Hawkman at the end of the Golden Age and the reintroduction of Earth-Two Hawkman during the Silver Age, Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl are married off-panel.
Following the events of DC's miniseries, Crisis on Infinite Earths, the histories of Earth-One and Earth-Two were merged together. As a result, both the Golden Age and the Silver Age versions of Hawkman and Hawkgirl live on the same Earth. Shortly after Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC decided that having the Justice Society on the same Earth as all of the other superheroes was redundant and most of the team including Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl were given a sendoff in the Last Days of the Justice Society one-shot.
Initially, the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman were kept in continuity unchanged after Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, DC reversed this decision and rebooted Hawkman continuity after the success of the Hawkworld miniseries. Originally, Hawkworld was a miniseries set in the past that retold the origins of Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman, but after the series became a success, DC Comics made Hawkworld an ongoing series set in the present, resulting in a complete reboot of Hawkman continuity, and introducing several continuity errors regarding Hawkman and Hawkgirl's Justice League appearances which needed to be fixed.
The Golden Age Hawkgirl was Shiera Sanders (or Saunders), the reincarnation of the Egyptian princess Chay-Ara, and partner of Carter Hall, the Golden Age Hawkman. Centuries ago, Chay-Ara and her lover Prince Khufu were killed by Hath-Set with a knife forged from an alien substance called nth metal. The properties of the metal and the strength of the duo's love created a bond between them, causing them to be reborn multiple times throughout the centuries. Some of her incarnations include: Lady Celia Penbrook, alive during 5th century Britain, love of Silent Knight; Cinnamon (a.k.a Kate Manser), an Old West gunslinger, love of Nighthawk; Sheila Carr, lady love of Pinkerton detective James Wright. (Note, many of these characters were previously established within the DC Universe before any connection to Hawkgirl was made.
In the early 20th century, Chay-Ara was reborn as Shiera Sanders. She was kidnapped by Dr. Anton Hastor (reincarnation of Hath-Set) but subsequently rescued by Hawkman (her reborn lover Khufu). Shiera became the hero's frequent ally and love interest. Eventually, she was granted a costume of her own and a belt of gravity-defying Nth metal and joined him at his side as Hawkgirl.
The Hawks were members of the All-Star Squadron, and while Hawkman was a member of the Justice Society of America, Hawkgirl was not, only assisting the group on occasion. Recent retcons seem to point to Hawkgirl being formally inducted into the JSA at some time however. Eventually, Carter and Shiera married and had one son, Hector Hall, the previous Doctor Fate.
Through retcon Carter and Shiera also joined the Justice League of America in the late 1980s, serving as liaisons between that group and the Justice Society.
Shiera died when she was merged with Carter and Katar Hol to form a new Hawkman version, a "hawk god" creature, during the events of Zero Hour.
The current Hawkgirl is Kendra Saunders, a young woman who committed suicide. When Kendra's soul left her body, that of her grandfather's first cousin Shiera Hall, the Golden Age Hawkgirl, and entered it. Her grandfather, former OSS agent and globe-trotting adventurer Speed Saunders, recognized this, and encouraged his granddaughter to embrace her destiny as the "new" Hawkgirl.
Still believing herself to be Kendra, she debuted as a hero using the original Hawkgirl's equipment. This led to a meeting with the Justice Society and Kendra's induction to that team.
She currently has all of Kendra's memories, but almost none of Shiera's save for fighting experiences. This creates tension with Hawkman since he remembers all of their past lives together and believes they are destined for each other.
She is also a returning member of the new Justice League, having briefly served with the team when the original members were previously missing. Hawkgirl is now 100% Kendra Saunders. Shiera Sanders' soul left Kendra's body and moved on to the afterlife. Shiera hopes her passing on will finally remove the curse of Hath-Set.
Don't even get me started on what's happening to her and Hawkman in the currently-running "Blackest Night" storyline…
It's definitely worth mentioning what Wiki has to say about the Hawkgirl character from Justice League, since the figure clearly takes some of its cues from that: The character of Shayera "Hawkgirl" Hol appears in the animated series Justice League on Cartoon Network. She is based on the Silver Age Hawkgirl. Her personality was completely re-designed for the series by the producers, who wanted a second woman for the team to contrast with Wonder Woman. In the animated continuity, Hawkgirl's wings are organic and she wields an Nth metal mace which disrupts magical forces.
As to powers and abilities, Hawkgirl owes her powers to a belt of Nth metal, a substance native to the planet Thanagar (once home of another pair of Hawk-heroes, Katar Hol and Hawkwoman. The metal is psycho-reactive, responding to its bearer's thoughts and in its base form has a number of electromagnetic/gravitational properties. To the Hawks, it grants the power of flight, superhuman strength, super-acute vision, and an enhanced healing/regeneration ability.
Additionally, she displays advanced hand-to-hand combat skills. Like Hawkman, she retains the knowledge of several lifetimes worth of fighting. Her preferred weapons are a spear or mace, but she has also been depicted using swords, axes, warhammers, shields, and other melee weapons. She possesses shooting skills from her times as the gunfighter, Cinnamon.
So, how's the figure? Really superb. Although about the same size as some of the other female figures in the DC Universe Classics line (Harley Quinn, Catwoman, etc), Hawkgirl uses a distinctive set of molds. Her costume is not just painted onto a standard body mold, it's sculpted.
The uniform consists of a yellow tank top, green tights, red trunks, and red boots with a yellow "birds's foot" pattern sculpted into them. The costume also includes a yellow belt and red buckle with the "Hawk" symbol on it. It clearly takes its cues from Hawkman's own uniform.
The headpiece is rather different from Hawkman's, however. Although still birdlike in appearance, it is not quite as birdlike as Hawkman's headpiece. It is orange and black, and upswept on either side. The top of the headpiece is orange, with the sides and front being mostly black, including around the eyes. The back of the headpiece is orange, and open to allow Hawkgirl's reddish hair to flow down. She is also wearing two white circular earrings.
The eyes have been painted blank white. The lower portion of the face is exposed, and has been painted in flesh tone with red lipstick around the mouth. The overall paint detailing has been very well done.
Obviously, Hawkgirl has large wings. This may have been the other reason the character has a distinctive set of molds, since a mounting and hinges for them needed to be attached to the back of the figure. The molds used for Hawkgirl's wings are exactly the same as those used for Hawkman back in Series 6 of the DC Universe Classics line. Hey, why not? It's a good set of wings.
The wings are an amazingly detailed piece of work, Each feather is clearly defined and fully sculpted with detail in and of itself. The wings, at rest, are almost as tall as Hawkgirl herself. There is a hinge in the top of each wing, that allows the major portion of the wings to spread outward – and look good doing so, which is an impressive achievement in and of itself. Spread out, the wings have a wingspan of over a foot!
Hawkgirl stands about 6-1/2" in height, which is slightly taller than some of the female figures in the line, but at least some of that is the upswept portion of her helmet.
The figure is superbly articulated, as one expects a DC Universe Classics figure to be. The head does not move much, but this is due to the long hair, which in fairness is superbly sculpted. Hawkgirl is also fully poseable at the arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
As for her accessories! She comes VERY well armed. Remember that the Wiki entry said that Hawkgirl's "preferred weapons are a spear or mace, but she has also been depicted using swords, axes, warhammers, shields, and other melee weapons." Well, they're not kidding. The figure comes with a spear, nearly 7" in length, a mean-looking mace, and a distinctly nasty-looking sword. All of these weapons have been very well sculpted, painted, and detailed. All have a definite "medieval" look to them, as well.
Any complaints? Not really, It seems like Mattel has gone from having a problem where sometimes a figure's part (mostly legs) were stuck, and attempts to unstick it would result in breakage, to now having parts that are too loose. There has to be some sort of median range here that can be achieved on a consistent basis. This line deserves no less. But on Hawkgirl, It's not a major matter at all.
Hawkgirl does not come with a "Collect and Connect" piece of another figure, but rather includes a display stand. It's a nice accessory, but I was very impressed to discover that Hawkgirl stands up quite capably on her own without problem, even with the wings, which one would think would make her back-heavy. Maybe I'll give the base to Gentleman Ghost. His cape makes him pretty back-heavy, too, and he DOES seem to have a little trouble standing. The base is molded in transparent plastic, as well, so it'll fit right in with him…
So, what's my final word here? This is a very cool figure. This Hawkgirl is clearly based on the Silver Age/Justice League Animated version of the character, and she definitely looks entirely like Hawkman's female counterpart. The uniform is colorful and heroic, and the figure is a superb addition to the collection – even moreso if you also have Hawkman – whom you should really have, as he's also a very impressive figure!
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of HAWKGIRL definitely has my highest recommendation!