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Friday, January 20, 2017

1989 Hawk & Dove v3 ongoing series part 2

[This is a continuation of our review of the 1989 Hawk & Dove v3 ongoing series. Our previous article reviewed issues #1 to #24 and Annual #1. This article will contain SPOILERS. We at DC in the 80s are big fans of letting readers discover things for themselves. If you have any interest in this series, we implore you to seek it out read it yourself before reading this article. While Hawk & Dove v3 may NOT currently be available in any collected TPB format, the back issues can be picked up for pretty cheap.]



As contributing editor Rob Perry alluded to in our previous article, the Hawk & Dove v3 ongoing series took a drastic turn in tone come issue #25.

A storyline had been building up since Hawk & Dove v3 #22 in which Hawk is receiving phone calls from his deceased brother, Don Hall (aka Dove) [he died back in Crisis, remember?]. Issue #25 begins with a dream sequence in which it appears that parallel timelines are being revealed to Hawk, I'm mainly mentioning this because one of the realities revealed to him was the non-cannon Hawk and Dove story from The Brave and the Bold v1 #181 (1981).


The Brave and the Bold #181 was written by Alan Brennert and penciled by Jim Aparo. This was presented as the LAST Hawk & Dove story — it's set in present-day 1981 and Hank and Don Hall seem to have aged accordingly. In this issue, the 'Voice' that gave Hawk and Dove their powers decides to take it back, since it deemed that the brothers haven't matured whatsoever since they gained their powers 12 years ago.


In hindsight, it feels like this issue was intended for readers who were unfamiliar with the characters: it recounts the duo's origins, mentions how much things have changed since the late 60s/early 70s, explains a lot of their back story, and takes their powers away. In typically Hank Hall fashion, Hawk goes on a destructive rampage, which served as the catalyst for having their powers taken away. Batman's involvement is kind of a moot point [probably to get readers interested enough to pick up the issue], as he doesn't really have any big role in this story. Editor Dick Giordano revealed in the letter column of The Brave and the Bold v1 #186 that the Hawk & Dove story "drew an incredible avalanche of mail; the largest reader response to a single issue in our series in recent memory."

Giordano went on further to explain:
"The decision to publish "Time, See What's Become of Me" was not an easy one. Chronology is important in our DC Universe and I was painfully aware of the fact that I was messing with it. But as the original editor of THE HAWK AND THE DOVE back in the '60s I also felt an emotional obligation to write finis to the pair that were a product of their time. Alan's excellent script allowed me to do this with class."
"It was not the conflict between 'mindless violence' and 'extreme caution and passivity' that we feel renders the Hawk and the Dove obsolete. Starting with the title down to the basic story-lines and characterizations, the original concept was intended to deal, symbolically, with the political and social unrest of the time in which it was published. Moreover, the original version was really a triangle with Judge Hall (their father) providing a third (moderate) point of view to the boys extreme views. With the absence of social unrest and Judge Hall's viewpoint, the question of hawk and dove became academic."

How were Giordano and Brennert messing with DC chronology? Well, when Hank and Don Hall were guest starring in Teen Titans v1 back in the late 1970s, they were the same age as the rest of the Teen Titans. When this issue was published, Don Hall was 27 years old (and his brother, Hank, was roughly the same age) and Dick Grayson was still 19 years old — effectively implying that Hawk and Dove had aged, but nobody else in the DCU had.

As mentioned, this issue is considered non-cannon since Hawk and Dove are seen with powers in Crisis On Infinite Earths in 1985. I do appreciate that the Kesels took the time to reference this gem in issue #25 and provided an 'imaginary' epilogue to it (they even go so far as to thank Brennert and Aparo) — it demonstrates that they did their research and have a respect for the characters.

Issue #25 was a 38 page issue and boasted 'Guest Artists Galore'. I'm not very good at recognizing artists, but I did spot a few pages of Kevin Maguire art in there. The other contributing pencillers were (apparently) Dick Giordano, Tom Grindberg, Dan Jurgens, Jim Aparo, Will Blyberg and Greg Guler. The inkers included Scott Hana, Al Vey, Robert Lewis, Gabriel Morrissette, and Ken Branch. Don't ask me who did what in the issue — I'd only be guessing. Apparently, Jerome Moore illustrated the cover.


Who illustrated and inked these panels above (from H&D v3 #25)? Comment below if you know.


By this point I'm wondering if the Kesels were aware the series would be facing cancellation and were in a rush to get their last MAJOR story arc completed (hence the double-sized issue). Hawk, who keeps receiving phone calls from his dead brother, is instructed to retrieve Sargon the Sorcerer's Soul Sapphire gemstone being held in a museum. This drives Hawk to commit a felony and break into the museum to steal it, causing everyone around to worry that Hawk's gone off "the deep end" again. Everyone is affected by this; Dove's not sure if Hawk is going evil, Hawk's girlfriend [Ren] thinks he's cheating on her with Dove, the Washington SCU is convinced that Hawk is a threat and needs to be taken down. I'm really digging the Sargon the Sorcerer reference. Throughout issue #25, the Soul Sapphire is referred to as an instrument of Order. It looks like the Kesels were laying the ground work for Sargon to be part of the agents of Chaos and Order mythos.

Throughout the previous 24 issues, the Kesels have managed to keep Hawk's 'crazy side' under wraps and portrayed him as someone we should be sympathetic to. Prior to the 1988 mini-series and this 1989 ongoing series, Hawk was more or less portrayed as a warmongering loose cannon (who always had America's best interests at heart) — the introduction of Dove (Dawn Granger) helped downplay this quite a bit. [Here's some foreshadowing for you, folks. ;) ]

The story continues. In issue #26, Hawk is missing and Dawn goes looking for him. She doesn't find him, but we are treated to a flashback of when Dawn had first discovered that she possessed the powers of Dove and tried finding Hawk. This wasn't a retcon, but it was adding new details to things that happened immediately after Crisis On Infinite Earths. We also learn that Kestrel was hunting for Hawk back then.

There's an extensive manhunt for Hawk in issue #27; things inevitably escalate, Hawk behaves more 'out of character' and steals a recently deceased body for his dead brother, Don Hall, to be reincarnated into. The end of the issue reveals that Hawk's been set up, it's not Don Hall he's reviving, but someone else...



...and this leads us to the 48 page finale of the series. Hawk & Dove v3 #28 has a lot going on and it seemed like the creative team was trying to jam five issues worth of story into one issue. If I had to sum up this final issue in one word, I'd go with 'chaotic' — Hank Hall and Dawn Granger's parents reveal that they knew who Hawk & Dove were the WHOLE time, Dawn's love interest [Sal] makes the connection and figures out Dawn and Dove are the same people, the Wildebeest Society attacks Hawk for being a former member of the Teen Titans, Azure returns to go on a rampage (a War of the Gods tie-in), the big 'secret' villain is revealed, and Uncle Sam makes a guest-appearance!


Jonathan Peterson was the editor during the last year of Hawk & Dove v3 and it's a little difficult to tell where Peterson's influences end and the Kesels' begin. At this point in his career, Peterson was the Teen Titans editor extraordinaire — overseeing New Titans, Hawk & Dove v3, Deathstroke: the Terminator, and working on the launch of another Teen Titans spin-off book called Team Titans. The Wildebeest Society charging in on Hawk (albeit briefly) was a tie-in to the Titans Hunt storyline which ran through New Titans #71 to New Titans #84 (Nov 1990 - Mar 1992). Part of Peterson's plan for a Teen Titans resurgence was to create a BIG event that would whittle down the team [according to Peterson, there were too many Titans and honorary Titans running around] and this is what the Titans Hunt was meant to be.


Wildebeest Society attacks!

War of the Gods was one of the big 1991 cross-over events running throughout DC comics [the other big cross-over event being Armageddon 2001, but more on that shortly]. Karen Berger, Bob Kahan and Tom Peyer were the editors overseeing this cross-over, and it ran through 14 DCU titles (notable exclusions included Aquaman, Deathstroke the Terminator, the Justice League titles, Green Arrow, Green Lantern and the Legion of Super-Heroes). War of the Gods was a Wonder Woman-centric cross-over that coincided with the 50th anniversary of the character, Hawk & Dove v3 being included in this cross-over event may have come from a top-tier DC editorial decision (i.e. Dick Giordano) and was something the Kesels couldn't work around.

The 'big reveal' of the villain Hawk had unintentionally revived will catch most (if not all readers) off guard. He's actually a villain from another DCU character's book. [No, we're not telling you who it is — either buy the issue or find out somewhere else. Some things need to be kept unspoiled.] Equally surprising is a guest appearance by Uncle Sam (Quality Comics character; leader of the Freedom Fighters) who appears to trade blows with Hawk, and to deliver an important message to the duo:


So... Uncle Sam shows up to tell Hawk and Dove that they symbolize the 'spirit of America'? And that even their costume color choices [red, white and blue] were indicative of this. Huh. If you consider the politically-charged origin of the original duo, this actually fits quite nicely. If we look at the bigger picture, this could've led to a change in direction for the series (had it continued beyond this point) — not only were Hawk and Dove avatars of Chaos and Order, but they could've been involved in bigger story lines about 'finding America' and battling threats to the American dream. I'm going to go ahead and credit this idea to the Kesels, because at this point I think they were the only ones who gave a damn about the characters anymore.

The issue wraps up in a 'happily-ever-after' scenario as both Hank Hall and Dawn Granger reunite with their respective loved ones. It left an open ending with the promise of nice things to come to both characters — a really nice way to conclude a series.


The end. (But not really.)

At the end of our last article we promised we'd delve into the last few issues of Hawk & Dove v3 and what made this ongoing series so unpopular. Before we get into that, we have to tell you about a little thing called Armageddon 2001.

Armageddon 2001 was a 1991 cross-over event than ran through a large number of the 1991 DC comics annuals. Someday we'll give you a comprehensive review of the entire cross-over event from start to finish, but for now, know that a [1991] modern day character from the DCU goes nuts and kills all of the other DCU heroes. A protagonist from an apocalyptic future [named Waverider] returns back in time to try to determine who the traitor will be and to prevent that disaster from occurring — he does this by entering said character's timeline and seeing their future. This was all framed as a big mystery to keep you guessing who the traitor was going to be, as Waverider visited each DCU hero in his respective annual to look for clues. The event starts with Armageddon 2001 #1 (1991), runs through about twelve annuals, and concludes with Armageddon 2001 #2 (which contains the 'big reveal').



Hawk & Dove v3 Annual #2 (1991) was part of the Armageddon 2001 cross-over and showed three distinct future possibilities in which a) Hawk survives the original onslaught and rises up to battle Monarch, b) Dove survives the onslaught and is now the mother to Hawk's son, and c) Hawk and Dove have a daughter named Unity who possesses a combination of both Hawk and Dove's powers and ultimately defeats Monarch.

Hawk & Dove v3 Annual #2 (1991) - Unity
On its own, Annual #2 was a nice little trio of "What If" stories and was released sometime in early June 1994. If nothing else, it confirmed that neither Hawk nor Dove would end up becoming Monarch, and it maybe even got fans excited with the notion that Hawk and Dove would become an item someday and have a child.

Something went wrong. Somebody [a disgruntled DC comics employee perhaps?] leaked that Captain Atom would be revealed as Monarch. This spoiler was leaked before Armageddon 2001 #2 was released to the public, so DC editorial had time to change the conclusion to the Armageddon 2001 event. A different DCU character had to be revealed as Monarch. So who did they pick?

From a 2006 article by Dylan Brucie in Wizard Magazine #179:
"I remember [editor] Jonathan Peterson saying to us cryptically, 'Do you guys have any future plans for Hawk and Dove?'" Karl Kesel explains, "And Jonathan told us later on that at that point, he knew that Hawk was going to be Monarch and he was just feeling us out."

In a 2005 interview with Jonathan Peterson from The Titans Companion, Bill Walko asked about the identity of Monarch in Armageddon 2001:
Walko: "It’s pretty common knowledge that it was supposed to be Captain Atom, then it became the Titans-based character Hawk. How did you decide on Hawk, of all heroes?"
Peterson: "I remember this now. With Captain Atom, it made sense power-wise, with the atomic powers, and in a weird way, it would echo Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan. Dr. Manhattan was based on Captain Atom since Watchmen started as the Charlton heroes anyway. Then we could also do a Anakin Skywalker thing. Hawk was this war-like guy anyway. You could just push him off the deep end, bring him to the dark side, and that would be the tragedy, that Waverider’s interference would ultimately be the event to cause Hawk’s transformation. He was a B-level character we could do something with, anyway."

Hawk becoming Monarch wasn't THAT terrible of an idea and, continuity issues aside [see Hawk & Dove v3 Annual #2], even seemed to work — Armageddon 2001 was intended to be a launchpad for Peterson's new Teen Titans spin-off series [Team Titans], so Hawk being the main villain stayed in-step with the whole Titans-verse thing. The real problem was Monarch killing off Dove/Dawn Granger in Armageddon 2001 #2. A future version of Hawk killing off the present-day Dove was completely out of character for any version of Hawk, and not to mention a waste of an excellent character.

Over the span of a several comic book pages, Dove's life went from this:


...to this:


To make matters worse, due to shipping delays, Armageddon 2001 #2 (the death of Dove) would've been released the same week as Hawk & Dove v3 #28 (if not earlier). Some Hawk & Dove v3 readers would've been aware of the true final ending for the duo before they read the last issue of the ongoing series.

Barbara Randall Kesel's opinions on the matter?
"The story I originally got is that Hawk and Dove together became Monarch, which I thought was brilliant because then you had this internally schizoid character. But just the cheap killing off of Dove and making Hawk just be the psycho bad guy I thought was a good last minute save, but not a really satisfying version." (Wizard #179, article by Dylan Brucie, 2006)

As you can see in that last quote, Barbara was just being professional — she reveals how she REALLY felt in an interview with Jennifer M Contino for Sequential Tart:
Contino: "I HATED the ending of Hawk & Dove. What was the real reason that Hank Hall became Monarch and Dawn Granger died? What was the ending that you and Karl had planned for the series?"

Randall Kesel: "Let’s get one thing clear: that wasn’t a planned ending of Hawk and Dove. That awful story was an Armageddon 2000 special created after somebody at DC spilled the beans about Captain Atom’s being Monarch. Then, a small number of people worked feverishly to find some other character to sacrifice, and since H&D had just been cancelled!"

"If you’ve ever pitied anyone, pity Jonathan Peterson, the poor person who had to give me the news. I wasn’t pleased, and wasn’t shy about sharing. If there’s anything I hate with a passion, it’s characters behaving out of character, especially when it involves a smart woman being stupid for no reason. H&D becoming Monarch could have been a clever idea: if they BOTH became the character, their innately opposite natures could explain a schizophrenic villain. As it was… it was a last-minute fix that sucked. The ending closest to what I have in mind was in the Unity story in the H&D Annual #2, but it’s all water under the bridge."

As I was re-reading this ongoing series as a whole [28 issues, 2 annuals and 1 Secret Origins issue] for this comprehensive review, I can honestly tell you that I didn't expect to enjoy this title as much as I did. Admittedly, the first several issues felt a little 'slow', but the unfolding plotline about the mystic origins of the duo's powers kept me powerin' on. To me, this series hits its stride immediately after issue #17: we're getting more guest stars [Titans West, Creeper, Barbara Gordon/Oracle, etc ] and new villains being introduced. This series may have avoided cancellation if it had felt more integrated into the rest of the DCU since its launch (rather than a year and a half into it). Why did it take almost a year before the Teen Titans appeared? I realize that the Kesels were trying to create a stand-alone world for Hawk & Dove with their own supporting characters and villains, but the duo may have been too unknown to a modern audience to establish a strong fan base so early. This is just my opinion of course. I would've liked to have seen this book continue past issue #28 to see where the Kesels would have brought us — the 'Spirit of America' idea seems to show some promise.

Dove was easily the most interesting character in the series and, at a time when DC didn't have too many strong female headlining characters, killing her off in Armageddon 2001 was a major mistake. It's ironic that Dove was killed off as part of a plot device for Hawk to descend to the role of Monarch — this is exactly the kind of thing Barbara Randall Kesel (Dove/Dawn Granger's co-creator and Hawk & Dove v3 co-writer) would've flagged in her original letter to Dick Giordano from the early 80s [i.e. a female character losing her powers/life so her male counterpart could evolve as a character]. Dawn Granger/Dove didn't NEED to be killed off — there must've been some work-around that could've been used to allow her to be a functioning character in the then-DCU. Understandably, this upset a lot of Hawk and Dove fans.

One bold theory I'm putting out there is that DC editorial had Dove killed off to prevent Rob Liefeld from getting royalties. Dawn Granger/Dove was an interesting character and had a lot of potential as far as a leading character was concerned; with the right exposure she could've quickly became one of DC's strong B-list characters. Rob Liefeld is listed as one of the co-creators of Dove/Dawn Granger, and it has been hinted that some members* of DC editorial at the time were not fond of Liefeld. Liefeld has been known to make candid remarks his relationship with DC comics in the late 80s/early 90s was 'interesting', could this have been what he was talking about?

*[Part of DC in the 80s 2017 New Year's resolutions is to NOT get sued for libel, so we're not listing any names here.]

Despite Dove's untimely demise in the pages of Armageddon 2001, she still appeared in 1992's DC Cosmic Cards trading cards released by Impel. It's nice to know that she was deemed significant enough to appear in this card set. Hawk also got a card. This is somewhat impressive since I can think of at least 6 or 7 DCU heroes (excluding Batman-related characters) who had their own title in 1992 that didn't get a trading card.




Do you know who else also got a card? Monarch. It straight up revealed who Monarch was on the card art, too. So much for maintaining the suspense...



Anyways, that concludes our review of the Hawk & Dove v3 ongoing series from 1989. Hawk and Dove/Dawn Granger would be re-united in 2009's Blackest Night crossover event, but that's a little too modern for us, so we'll let someone else cover it.

Thanks to Jennifer M Contino, Dylan Brucie, Bill Walko for interviewing Jonathan Peterson, Karl Kesel and Barbara Randall Kesel in other publications/websites (listed above).

-Justin
(with big help from our new Contributing Editor, Rob Perry)



4 comments:

  1. Mystery panels look like they were illustrated by Dick G., himself!

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  2. The first mystery panel is probably Tom Grindberg.

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  3. Great overview of the series and nice insights! Would be great if DC ever did a Hawk & Dove omnibus, but given the sales of the New 52 trade, I doubt it.

    (One note: "it's" = it is. Might want to read through your post again!)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliments and the grammatical advice.

      Like you, I don't expect to see a Hawk & Dove omnibus anytime soon -- which is a pity since it does have its moments.

      Another one I seem to screw up is "who's/whose" and "that's/thats" (damn those apostrophe 's' suffixes) -- I need to spend more time on www.grammarist.com, evidently.

      I will go back and correct my "it's" errors (unless they are direct quotes from other sources -- then I don't touch those).

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