Warning: This article contains spoilers for Hawkman #17, by Robert Vendetti, Pat Olliffe, Tom Palmer, Jeremiah Skipper and Starkings & Comicraft, on sale now.
Hawkman has a mind-boggling history that's built numerous disparate versions of the classic DC hero with contradictory backstories. While this might seem arguably normal for comic book characters, these differing versions of Hawkman have always been written as somehow coexisting with each other.
This has caused a litany of problems with Hawkman's character throughout his publication, and the current Hawkman series is in the midst of resolving this issue by retconning the various versions of Hawkman as past lives of the current Carter Hall.
In Hawkman #17, however, a far darker reflection of the character comes to fore, lurking out of the shadows of the Dark Multiverse.
Hawkman #17 concludes Hawkman's battle with his old foe Carl Sands, a.k.a. Shadow Thief. The battle quickly goes in the Shadow Thief's favor, as his control of the shadows allows him to use Hawkman's own shadow against him.
Every punch, kick, and mace strike against his counterpart does the same amount of damage to himself. This humiliating turn of events, which leaves Hawkman on his knees, is the result of Shadow Thief's vendetta against Hawkman for his past defeats. Unfortunately for Shadow Thief, Hawkman can remotely control his mace, which promptly skewers Shadow Thief in the back and through the stomach.
After destroying the technology that allowed Shadow Thief to control his shadow, an enraged Hawkman nearly kills the defenseless Sands in cold blood. Before he can do so, however, Hawkman's old foe-turned-friend, the Shade, intervenes. The Shade's own longevity means that his relationship with Hawkman goes far back, and he stops Hawkman from executing the Shadow Thief in the same way the hero turned him away from a life of crime.
Unable to calm his friend down, Shade teleports Hawkman away. As he reflects on what Shade said, Hawkman realizes that there has been a growing darkness in his soul that's been making him increasingly angry. Consumed by his rage Hawkman gives into the darkness and is transformed into the Sky Tyrant.
Sky Tyrant is the Earth-3 equivalent of Hawkman, which makes him a member of the Crime Syndicate, that world's evil Justice League counterpart that includes with Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman. This suggests that the various lives that Hawkman is now experiencing aren't just along different time periods and planets, but also entirely different continuities. This transformation into Sky Tyrant, at least according to the solicit for the next issue, could even be due to the machinations of the villainous Batman Who Laughs.
Sky Tyrant is actually not the first evil version of Hawkman in the comics. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's JLA: Earth-2 graphic novel had a version called Blood Eagle, who only had a small role in the larger proceedings.
In Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Dark Nights: Metal crossover, Hawkman was twisted into the Dragon, a behemoth enforcer for the demon Barbatos, before DC's other heroes freed him.
While Metal's other major new villain, the Batman Who Laughs, may be behind Hawkman's transformation as part of DC's Year of the Villain, he and his other recently-turned counterparts aren't exactly evil. While it's not clear if Sky Tyrant's origin or his connection to the Dark Multiverse will be explored. this will certainly put a damper on Hawkman's own quest to atone for his past sins. What is certain, however, is that no one is safe from the wrath of the darker wielder of the Nth metal.
KEEP READING: Batman Who Laughs: Who is the Evil Dark Knight?