365 Reasons to Love Comics #180

DITKO WEEK Day Six is here! You know, I had an epiphany last night where I realized the true hidden theme amongst most of these Ditko entries. I shall reveal it in a few days' time, because Ditko Week is extending through the middle of next week. Why? Because Mr. Steve Ditko gave us too much cool stuff for one week to contain.

Today: An intriguing pair of characters who can't catch a break. (And remember to browse the archive.)


180. Hawk & Dove

Steve Ditko only worked on these co-creations (with Steve Skeates) of his for three issues in total, but the Ditko magic was enough to keep them around for almost forty years now, albeit in remarkably different versions.

Ditko's original concept revolved around two brothers, Hank and Don Hall. Hank was the conservative, aggressive hothead, and Don was the liberal, wimpy pacifist. A mysterious voice gave them magic powers, and together, they fought crime-- with Hank as the violent Hawk and Don as the kind, passive Dove, and their father, a judge, as a middle-of-the-road anti-vigilante sort of fellow. Unfortunately, Ditko jumped ship after the second issue of the ongoing, and, even though Gil Kane stepped in, the book folded after six installments, and the brothers were cast into limbo. At least they managed to team up with the Teen Titans during this period and join an offshoot of the group, but that's as far as things went.

It was a fine concept, even if it the reader was bludgeoned over the head by the themes. Hawk was a bloodthirsty hero thrilled to be fighting crime, but came off as destructive as the bad guys. And Dove's heart was in the right place, but he was often portrayed as an angst-ridden wimp, except in #5 where he was a nerd pushed too far, flipping out on the villain. Like I said, intriguing, though not necessarily awesome. Don's viewpoints were usually shown in a poor light, and he was constantly forced to compromise his beliefs in order to function as a superhero. The book was, I'd say, a neat commentary on "the war at home" and a precursor to the "relevant" titles like Green Lantern/Green Arrow.

You can't fault Ditko's character designs. He was great at drawing emotion, and his costume ideas were always fresh and interesting. With Hawk, it was all pointy talons, but for Dove, it was soft, rounded feathers. The outfits were a bit gaudy, but hey, it was the '60s. The visual seemed to work, though-- Hawk and Dove are still wearing variations on these outfits!

Hank and Don showed up in several guest appearances after their series ended, but they never gained prominence as a feature. In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Don was killed whilst saving a child, leaving Hank alone fighting crime as an even more violent and off-the-rails Hawk. That is, until Karl and Barbara Kesel brought in a new Dove, Dawn Granger, and launched a new series comprised of a five-issue mini and a 28-issue ongoing. Yes, this was the book that jump-started Rob Liefeld's career. Yep. From Steve Ditko to Gil Kane to Rob Liefeld. Heh.

Hawk and Dove were here revealed to be agents of the Lords of Chaos and Order, and, uh, other stuff happened. I'm afraid I've never read the series, so I don't know if it was any good. Did any of you guys read it? What did you think?

I do know it was doomed, however. In the Armageddon 2001 crossover, a last-minute "surprise twist" was pulled, and Hank Hall was revealed to be the evil Monarch while Dawn Granger was killed. Originally, Monarch was going to be revealed as another Ditko creation, Captain Atom, but an early leak caused Hawk to become the fall guy. The character never recovered, later becoming Extant and murdering half the Justice Society in Zero Hour. The less said of this, the better.

Mike Baron came up with a completely new iteration of Hawk and Dove in a '90s mini-series, but I'm told it wasn't very good. Dang.

Recently, yet another new Hawk and Dove were introduced-- Dawn Granger showed up all resurrected and stuff, and her never-before-seen British sister Holly became the new Hawk. They've appeared in Teen Titans a few times, but that's about it.

Man, Hawk and Dove have been treated badly in the grand scheme of comics, haven't they? That really sucks, because there's just so much potential in the concept, and I absolutely hate to see potential go to waste. Take two politically and philosophically opposed characters who have a bond, be they siblings or lovers or what have you, give them super-powers reflective of their personalities, and send them out into a crazy world. I mean, it sounds good in theory, right? So where's my awesome new Hawk and Dove comic? Huh? Bah.

But hey, at least they showed up in the JLU 'toon, voiced by, of all people, Fred Savage as Hawk, and Jason Hervey as Dove-- yes, the brothers from the Wonder Years, in a cool case of character role reversal. That was neat.

Scott of Polite Dissent is probably the blogosphere's biggest Hawk and Dove fan. Here's a link to his archive of Hawk and Dove reviews. They're great reading. Enjoy!

So what do you guys think? Are Hawk and Dove worthy of our love?

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