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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

1989 Hawk & Dove v3 ongoing series

[The Hawk & Dove v3 ongoing series is a bit of an anomaly as it is part of the late 80s/early 90s "lost DC" (usually lumped somewhere with the last issues of Gerard Jones' El Diablo, Roger Stern's Starman, or Joey Cavelieri's Huntress) — all this to say that we know it exists, it's just not very talked about or referred to as anybody's favorite comic book series. I had no clue why it had earned that rep (possibly something to do with DC's 1991 Armageddon 2001 event?), so I kept as opened-minded as possible while reviewing this.]

Hawk & Dove v3 picks up where the 1988 Hawk & Dove v2 mini-series left off; Hank Hall and Dawn Granger, upon discovering that they're agents of Chaos and Order, reluctantly team-up to become a super-powered crime-fighting duo based out of Washington, DC.

As far as picking up where things left off, Karl Kesel and Barbara Kesel are still the writers for this series, Mike Carlin is still editing, but Rob Liefeld is NO longer illustrating (by this point he was penciling for Marvel Comics). Greg Guler is now handling penciling chores on this title. Hawk & Dove v3 would be one of Guler's longest assignments for DC comics.

Since their debut in the 1988 mini-series, Hawk and Dove have participated in the 1988 Invasion! cross-over event and seemed to have grown more comfortable with each other (as far as operating as a team). Something that immediately caught my eye in the first issue were a few flashback panels in which Hawkman and Hawkgirl make small-talk with Dove during Invasion!. This seemingly innocent gesture turns way more sinister when it's revealed a few years later in Hawkworld that the Hawks in these panels were actually TRAITORS. More on that some other time.

The flashback sequence with Hawk and Dove meeting up with the other heroes from Invasion! re-affirmed to readers that the duo was part of the larger DCU. [...and it additionally gave me the hope that we were going to see a lot of interaction with the other DCU heroes throughout this series.] As of the first issue of this ongoing series, I was still undecided if Hawk and Dove were interesting enough to carry their own series or if it would require lots of guest appearances and cameos to keep me looking forward to the next issue.

This series wastes no time and quickly establishes it's own set of antagonists for Hawk and Dove (two new villains within the first issue) and re-introduces the college-aged supporting cast from the 1988 mini-series. Also re-introduced are the Washington Special Crimes Unit (SCU) (from the mini-series) who, around mid-way into the series, would gain more members and start to play a bigger role in the book.

One of the biggest strengths of this series was it's writing - namely it's characterization of the title characters and the supporting cast. Don't get me wrong - there's a nice mix of plot development and bare knuckle brawling action, but Dove is an interesting character and her relationship with Hawk (and any perceived romantic tensions) is something that keeps you turning the pages. The new Dove's guilt about becoming an agent of Order at the expense of Don Hall (the former Dove) is another theme that is explored and resolved within the first 5 issues. The Kesels gave a lot of attention to character development, and you can see that as the series progresses. Hawk and Dove having a college-aged support cast means that there's plenty of opportunity to have sub-plots about young adult stuff like relationship drama, finding your place in the world, and more relationship drama.

Hawk & Dove v3 #8
The first half of this series has the duo battling new villains (i.e. Barter, Gauntlet, Azure, Sudden Death, M.A.C., Scarab, and Shellshock) and a few C-rate villains that have been out of circulation for a while (i.e. Copperhead, the Untouchables/Intangibles, Flaw and Child), while trying to uncover the mystery of their origins and their grand purpose as agents of Order and Chaos. Admittedly, uncovering who and what Hawk and Dove actually are is an engaging mystery and keeps the story interesting.

Hawk & Dove v3 #13 - Dove bleeds light?
Mike Carlin edited the first four issues of this series (sometimes with Jonathan Peterson), and by issue #5 Michael Eury joined Carlin to become the editorial team.  As of issue #10, Eury became the solo editor on the title. In an interview with Bill Walko from the Titans Companion (published by TwoMorrows in 2005), editor Jonathan Peterson disclosed that "[...] Dick Giordano decided to give me the Titans, which at the time was being handled by Mike Carlin. Mike needed more time on his hands to handle the Superman books, and as a footnote, Mike had inherited them from Barbara Kesel, who had left DC’s staff to go freelance when she married Karl Kesel."

The first year of the series ends with the resolution of a plot line that started all the way back in issue #1 and a team-up with the Teen Titans. Hawk and Dove joining forces with the Teen Titans (now renamed to the New Titans) is something that readers had been requesting since the beginning of the series - and I'm a little surprised that it didn't happen prior to issue #11 (considering Barbara Kesel's previous experience as an editor on Tales of the Teen Titans, New Titans and Teen Titans Spotlight). Hawk being a former member of the Teen Titans was a huge selling point for the series, and fans anxiously wrote in wondering if Hawk and the new Dove were going to rejoin the team. (Bette Kane (aka 'Flamebird' from Titans West) is mentioned in issue #3. Nightwing is referenced in issue #5.) While the Kesels weren't shy about name-dropping other DC characters in the series, I get the gist that they were trying to carve out a separate world for Hawk and Dove.

Unlike the original 1968 Hawk & Dove ongoing series, there isn't much 'politicking' between the duo in this series (Hank and Don Hall spend most of the original series squabbling over who's political views are more correct) — most of the focus is on the Chaos and Order properties of the characters. A few Chaos and Order associated characters appear in this series: Flaw and Child (from Amethyst v2), Kestrel (from the 1988 mini-series), T'Charr, Terataya and M'Shulla. When a reader commented on this in the letter column of issue #11, the Kesels reply with:

Issue #15 has Hawk & Dove visit a far-away mystical land called Druspa Tau, and suddenly this title turns into a Sword & Sorcery comic book. [I was initially worried this series was going to pull a "Sword of the Atom" and suddenly change genres. Thankfully, this only lasted a few issues, and Hawk and Dove go back to the modern-day DCU by issue #18.] What's interesting to note is that Barbara Kesel Randall had just began writing for three TSR titles around this point (i.e. TSR Worlds, Spelljammer and Avatar), which borrow heavily from the Sword & Sorcery genre.

I'm not 100% sure on this, but I think this was the first mention of the geographical region Druspa Tau in the DCU. My best guess is that it was part of Amethyst's Gemworld, the dead give-away being the appearance of the Amethyst villains Child and Flaw during the course of the story. [Starting with 1987, Amethyst v3 was one of the titles that got swept up into the Chaos and Order mythos.] Their adventures on Druspa Tau reveal the origin of Hawk and Dove's powers, and confirms that they are the last incarnations of Hawk and Dove and will never have successors. Karl Kessel explained the reasoning for this in his foreword to the 1993 Hawk & Dove TPB:
"Mike Carlin’s one worry about the new Hawk and Dove was that if either one died, the voice(s) could easily replace them. This isn't good in comics. It led Barbara to create the star-crossed lovers M’Shulla and T’Charr and, eventually, to a pivotal story in the HAWK & DOVE monthly series establishing Hawk and Dove as the last of their line."
After Hawk and Dove's mysterious origins had been explained, editor Michael Eury left the series after issue #17 and Johnathan Peterson would remain the sole editor until the bitter end (issue #28).

Prior to Eury leaving the series, Hawk & Dove v3 Annual #1 (which fell somewhere between issues #17 and #18) saw publication. This Annual was a treat to Titans West fans, as it featured the first REAL Titans West reunion since 1989's New Titans #56 and the first REAL story of the post-Crisis Bette Kane as Flamebird. (Beast Boy/Changeling was not in the Annual, as he was being used in Marv Wolfman's New Titans at the time. Instead he was replaced by Dial H for Hero's Chris King.)

Titans West (created by Bob Rozakis and Don Heck) was a Teen Titans spin-off team introduced in 1977's Teen Titans v1 #50 that, due to one reason or another, never seemed to have gained enough traction to merit its own series. A Titans West series is something readers have been requesting since the Marv Wolfman and George Perez' New Teen Titans saw print in the early 80s. The 1986 Teen Titans Spotlight On... series just added more fuel to the rumors and readers suspected DC editorial was just 'testing the waters' to see if there was enough interest in a Titans West book. There was even talk in the late 1980s of Wolfman creating and writing the series, and then it was strongly hinted that Perez himself would be writing it. Needless to say, there was NEVER a modern day Titans West series. Hawk & Dove v3 Annual #1 was the closest thing Titans West would get for a modern day story. (Note: Titans West member Golden Eagle was killed during Titans Hunt nearly a year later.)

Hawk & Dove v3 Annual #1 (1990) was an exceptionally good story with a more 'grown up' version of the Titans West and plenty of previously forgotten DC villains for them to fight against. Dave Hoover and Tom Artis pencilled this annual, while Will Blyberg and Bill Wray inked. Rob Liefeld penciled the cover of this annual (with inks by Karl Kesel), which appeared to be based on an early Hawk & Dove portrait Liefeld had illustrated (also generously included as a pin-up in this annual).

Liefeld's (albeit limited) involvement in this annual was kind of 'full circle', as Liefeld was a big fan of the Teen Titans and had even proposed a new Teen Titans spin-off series [suggested title: Titans Force] in the early 90s that never saw realization. I often like to imagine how the early 90s comic book landscape would've been altered had Liefeld written and illustrated a Teen Titans book. Maybe the 90s would've seen a flood of Teen Titans spin-off titles on the shelves [Titans Force, Titans Unlimited, Teen Titans Adventures, Teen Titans: The Early Years, Nightwing and the Teen Titans, Titans Factor, etc...] and Marvel's X-Men would've only been contained to one or two books? The possibilities.

Starting with issue #18 (and Peterson taking over editorial control of the book), Hawk and Dove gain new powers (Hawk is now super-strong and invulnerable, while Dove gains the power of flight) and there's also the hint of a romantic connection between the two. Around this time, Peterson was also editor for New Titans and Deathstroke: the Terminator, and it would seem that this was the duo's chance to finally get absorbed into the Teen Titans' universe. Now that the mystery of their origins is resolved, we start to see them meet up with other heroes of the DCU.

Issues #18 and #19 were a nice two-part salute to Steve Ditko: Hawk & Dove (originally created by Ditko) team up with the Creeper (created by Ditko) to battle the Mad Men (also created by Ditko). Punch and Jewelee (created by Ditko) also make an appearance. This team-up was actually the winning result of a contest announced in issue #10 (by editor Michael Eury) encouraging readers to submit names of DC heroes or villains who should guest star in an issue of Hawk & Dove v3. The character(s) had to have had appeared at least once in a DC comic book and couldn't be from a licensed book (Star Trek, Doc Savage, Dragonlance, etc). The winner would get a page of original splash page art from the comic they appear in. Punch and Jewelee had appeared earlier that year in the pages of Suicide Squad, and the Mad Men were last seen in Blue Beetle v1 #23 (1988). The Creeper wasn't appearing that often in the DCU (last seen in 1989's Justice League International) — which I felt was a waste of a good character. The Kesels managed to capture the absurd dual nature of the Creeper/Jack Ryder in this story. This was an excellent Creeper story.

Hawk & Dove v3 #18
There were a few filler issues (issue #20 and #21) before the last big story arc we're going to cover in this article. [Contributing editor Rob Perry suggests keeping issues #25 to #28 (along with Hawk & Dove v3 Annual #2) as a separate post, so that's what we're going to do.] Hawk & Dove v3 #20 was a solo Dove story pencilled by Kevin Maguire and inked by Dick Giordano, and Hawk & Dove v3 #21 was a story introducing a bunch of new Female Furies to the DCU (pencilled by Steve Erwin and inked by Scott Hanna). Steve Erwin, who was illustrating Checkmate!Deathstroke: The Terminator and New Gods (all edited by Peterson), may have picked up this pencilling assignment as a favor to Peterson (who was editing Hawk & Dove v3 at this time as well).

Kevin Maguire and Dick Giordano's solo Dove story (Hawk & Dove v3 #20)

Issues #22 to #24 are a follow-up to a Batgirl story Barbara Kesel wrote in 1982. The Velvet Tiger (created by Barbara Kesel and Trever Von Eeden) first appeared in Detective Comics v1 #518 as a computer savvy villainess who stole her brother's computer program with the intention of wreaking havoc on Gotham City. Her brother thwarts her capture by Batgirl, and the two-part story concludes with the Velvet Tiger proclaiming a "I swear I'll get you" and that's the end of that. Flash forward to 1988 and Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke leaves Barbara Gordon paralyzed from the waist down. Barbara Kesel was not terribly impressed with this development of the character (Barbara was actually hired by DC comics in the early 80s because of a letter she wrote to Dick Giordano suggesting how to write better female characters), and quickly devised ways to get Barbara Gordon back into action. Not long after Barbara Gordon had been shot and paralyzed, Kim Yale and John Ostrander (writers of Suicide Squad) had introduced a character named 'Oracle' into the series who was providing information to Task Force X to assist them on missions. About a year after Oracle's introduction, in Suicide Squad v1 #38 (1990), it was revealed that Oracle was actually Barbara Gordon.
Hawk & Dove v3 #24 - Greg Guler pencils, Scott Hanna inks 
Hawk and Dove teaming up with Barbara Gordon/Oracle to battle Velvet Tiger is pretty significant as it has Barbara Kesel writing Batgirl/Oracle/Barbara Gordon again. If Barbara Kesel Randall should be known for anything, it's for writing intelligent and interesting female characters. Hawk and Dove would become members of Oracle's Birds of Prey in 2010.

Something noteworthy is that a few new villains created for and introduced in this series found life in the DCU afterwards:
  • Sudden Death (introduced in issue #5 and created by the Kesels and Chris Wozniak) appeared numerous times in other DC titles (ex: Suicide Squad, Darkstars, Birds of Prey) afterwards, usually as a member in a gang of super-villains.

  • Most of the new Female Furies introduced in issue #21 (created by the Kesels and Steve Erwin) found themselves in either Superboy v4 or Guardians of Metropolis (both written by Karl Kesel), or in various Teen Titans/Fourth World related titles.
Hawk & Dove v3 #21 - cover illustrated by Steve Erwin and inked by Karl Kessel

Prior to writing this ongoing series, Karl Kesel was the main inker for Amethyst v2Suicide Squad, Superman v2 and The Forever People v2 (and most likely part of the creative teams)  — and you can see a bit of those influences in the series (which truthfully just added to the overall feeling of a 'big picture' DCU):
  • Issue #9 has an indirect cross-over to the Superman/Flash race from Adventures of Superman #463 (1990). Nether Flash nor Superman appear in the issue, but a bunch of the main and support characters all gather to see the two speed through Washington, DC. (Apparently the idea was that all of the DC titles that month would have some sort of reference to the Superman/Flash race).

  • Maggie Sawyer (a Superman-affiliated character) is name-dropped a few times by the other Washington SCU characters. Karl Kessel was inking John Byrne's Superman v2 when the Metropolis SCU was introduced. I'm wondering if Karl took a queue from this and created the Washington SCU for his own series?

  • The Suicide Squad and possibly Belle Reve (the prison facility where Task Force X holds its metahumans) are mentioned a few times.

  • Bruno Manheim, a Superman/Fourth World villain, is name-dropped a few times in issue #23. Superman actually appears (as a flashback) in issue Hawk & Dove v3 #23, making the connection very obvious.

  • Issue #23 also has a reference to the Titans Hunt storyline that what was going on in New Titans at the time: Hawk is informed that "Nobody has seen the Titans lately", prompting him to wonder where the Teen Titans are and if he should go looking for them.

  • Child and Flaw were characters from Amethyst v2. Karl Kesel was the inker for the issue Child and Flaw first premiered in [Amethyst v2 #15 (1986)]. I wouldn't be surprised if the land of Druspa Tau was Karl's idea, too. Had the series continued longer, I imagine Amethyst herself may have even made a guest appearance.

To conclude, in keeping with our namesake (i.e. DC in the 80s), we're going to point out a few late 80s/early 90s references in the book that readers today probably wouldn't get if they hadn't lived through that era.

Hawk & Dove v3 #14:

"Liz and Dick" refers to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton — two Hollywood stars who were known for their tumultuous relationship (married and divorced twice... to each other). "Jim and Tammy" refers to televangelist Jimmy Baker and his wife Tammy Faye Baker — in 1987 it was uncovered that he was using fundraising money from his PTL Club for scandalous reasons. "Sean and Madonna" refers to actor Sean Penn and the singer Madonna — they were married from 1985 to 1989 and most people from that era only seem to remember Sean Penn having violent outbursts and going so far as to assault a photographer. That's where the 'dangerous' comes from.

Hawk & Dove v3 #20:

Well, if you couldn't figure this one out - this is a parody of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (who were a marketing juggernaut in the late 80s/early 90s). Actually, this whole issue is a poke at the big toy department stores that were so popular in the 80s — the name of the department store Dove visits is "WE-R-TOYS" [Toys "R" Us, anyone?].

Hawk & Dove v3 #20:

Yep, Oracle and her friend are watching Twin Peaks — a TV mystery/drama that aired on ABC from 1990 to 1991. It was created by Mark Frost and David Lynch, and is probably like nothing you've ever watched before. If you haven't already, you need to watch it at some point in your life.

Join us next time as we take a look at the last few issues of this ongoing series (#25 to #28), the second annual, and the awful thing that happened to Hawk and Dove after this series concluded.

(with special thanks to contributing editor Rob Perry for the guidance)


  1. Thanks, Justin
    As to why i suggested a separate review of the first 24 issues and the anuuals apart from the series is the the shape and tone of the series differs greatly from that point on. If the series had been cancelled with issue 24,the series might have been better remembered. We'll see you in the next part for the train wreck to come.

    Another thought about this series Greg Gular turns in some stellar work, Scott Hanna inks his admirably..... but they are let down by the horrible reproduction and paper stock and the colors are muddy and all over the place. Justin's selection of panels above only highlights this further. The panel with the Creeper and the other with the turtles show how horrible this is.

  2. Great article with some really interesting details. Me and Anj threw a lot of love towards this series when we appeared on Ryan Daly's Secret Origins Podcast to cover issue 43.

    1. I totally glazed over the fact that Secret Origins v2 #43 (1989) was a Hawk & Dove tie-in (introduced a bit more info on Barter's relationship with Child & Flaw). Paul Hix, Ryan Daly and Dr Anj give a really good overview of this entire issue in they're Secret Origins Podcast: They also cover the Cave Carson and Chris KL-99 features in that issue. Give it a listen - very entertaining and informative.

  3. Thanks for this! This series is actually one of my all time favorites. No one has ever gotten Hawk and Dove as right as the Kesels. Most other incarnations make Hawk into a raging lunatic and Dove into a whiner who spends her / his time chasing after Hawk telling him to calm down. The Kesels really gave them both so much character development, as you say, and illustrated the pluses and minuses of the Hawk and the Dove approach. Once Karl left, though I do think it went down in quality, and of course I vow to one day find out who leaked Captain Atom as Monarch (necessitating the switch to Hawk) and destroy them. Just kidding. Mostly.