Loose Ends and Quick Fixes
Geoff Johns did a pretty good job of resurrecting Hawkman in the pages of JSA, where it was established that he was Carter Hall, the Golden Age Hawkman, with some of the memories of his Thanagarian counterpart. Johns dove deep into the reincarnation aspect of Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s history, delivering stories set in their many previous lives, and things seemed to be all fine and dandy.
And then, Jim Starlin decided he wanted to tell stories about Katar Hol and messed it all up in a single issue, leaving a seed of doubt in Hawkman and the readers’ minds that the Hawkman they’ve been reading about for a decade might not be who they think he his. It didn’t matter too much because the DC Universe was relaunched not long after with The New 52, which had its own solution to the Hall/Hol problem.
In the pages of The Savage Hawkman, we were introduced to Carter Hall, who slowly learned that he was in fact an amnesiac Katar Hol from Thanagar. It wasn’t the best way around the character's problems, but it worked fine for what it was. The Savage Hawkman included some basic elements of the Prince Khufu backstory into Katar Hol’s history, but for the most part he was a straight-up science fiction character from a planet of bird people.
This incarnation of Hawkman died following a clash with Despero who wanted to claim all the Nth Metal on Thanagar for himself, and his death helped usher in the return of the Hawkman we have now, who is once again Carter Hall, a reincarnated Egyptian prince who has been trapped in the Dark Multiverse for a number of years.
How To Solve A Problem Like Hawkman
In the pages of Hawkman #1, Carter visits Madame Xanadu, a DC mystic who helps him access his previous lives, and the discovery he makes is the simple fix that Hawkman has needed for decades. He hasn’t just been reincarnating across time, but across space as well. So he was Prince Khufu in Ancient Egypt, but he was also Katar Hol on Thanagar, and Catar-Ol on Krypton, Katarthul of Rann, and so many others, all variations on a theme. It’s such a simple fix to the character that incorporates everything we know about him as well as introducing an entire new cosmic history for him to explore.
The mystery of why Carter Hall has been reincarnating across time and space is at the heart of the new Hawkman series, and it fixes everything wrong with him in one go. It takes an approach similar to Grant Morrison on Batman, who had the philosophy that “it all happened,” and the same is now true for Hawkman.
There’s no need to be confused about his history because all of it is true, you don’t need to worry about what’s canon and what’s not anymore because it’s all canon. It fixes decades of problems by blowing them all up and giving Hawkman the clean slate he’s desperately needed for so long. Hawkman can now be anything, no longer tied down to past interpretations of himself, and for a superhero universe built on legacy and generationality, it’s the best thing that could have happened to him.