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CSBG Archive

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.)

6/29/07

180. Hawk & Dove

Hawk and Dove 0.jpg

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!

Hawk and Dove 1.jpgHawk and Dove 2.jpg

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.

Hawk and Dove 3.jpgHawk and Dove 5.jpg

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?

17 Comments

Doug Atkinson

June 29, 2007 at 8:53 pm

I very much enjoyed the Kesel H&D series; it wasn’t earth-shattering, but it was pretty entertaining (until, as noted, it went off the rails during Armageddon 2001–particularly disappointing because they actually had one of the best A2001 annuals–and there were a couple of weak issues toward the end of the run). There were some good character-driven sequences, such as the one where Dove went on a date with someone who only knew her in her superhero identity (she wore a wig), and it’s the only place I’ve personally been able to stand the original Hawk as a character rather than a mouthpiece for a highly polar viewpoint. (The supporting cast has been criminally underused since the book ended; Barter is the sort of character you’d expect to see used more often as a plot device.)

(The Liefeld-drawn miniseries wasn’t as badly drawn as all that; since it was early in his career he hadn’t developed into such a caricature, and having a good inker helped.)

I agree: In my memory, at least (as I haven’t looked at those issues in YEARS), Liefeld was turning out some good work. Well, decent at least. Not the self-parodying pencils he manages today. And apparently back then he could draw quicker too.

What strikes me about Hawk and Dove today is their color scheme: How amusing that Hawk is Red (State) and Dove is Blue (State). I agree, there’s a lot of potential here, if rethought with an overtly political 21st century twist — two characters who really can’t get along and who have totally different aims, but who are bound to each other in order to activate their powers. I’d also like to see a smart writer handle a liberal Dove as someone who’s not a wimp. How to balance pacificistic philosphies with superhero action? That would be an achievement! (As would making a neo-con Hawk something more than a bloodthirsty caricature.)

This one would probably fit better under “Reasons to Be Embarassed of Comics,” or perhaps “Concepts that weren’t executed well at all.”

I’d also like to see a smart writer handle a liberal Dove as someone who’s not a wimp. How to balance pacificistic philosphies with superhero action? That would be an achievement!

perhaps J. Marc DeMatteis?

he’s often spoken about the fact that he is himself a pacifist and feels a bit uncomfortable writing characters who resolve problems through violence…

You skipped the weird guitar-playing, gun-shooting Hawk and Dove of a few years ago. I don’t know anything about them, though, so I’m not too upset.

You actually missed out one of the original Hawk and Dove’s finest appearance– a team up with Batman in 1981 in Brave and the Bold. It was later deemed “out of continuity” because the premise was kind of a ‘reunion movie’ of Hawk and Dove, where Don and Hank did fight crime in the 1960s but had retired from superheroing and had now grown up– or not grown up as the case was– never quite learning to overcome their blindspots, to the detriment of their jobs and marriages. It was a poignant story about the values of the 60s in the 1980s and actually gave an good ending to the original 1960s comic. And Jim Aparo’s art is superb.

Of course, because Hawk and Dove teamed up with the Teen Titans, their being 30 would create headaches with the non-existent aging of the Titans, so in the Donna Troy wedding issue it’s casually dismissed as though to say “it didn’t happen”.

But it was an awesome story that held up when I re-read it as an adult. I miss those days when Alan Burnett came to DC once or twice a year and wrote the best Batman story of the year and then went back to Hollywood to write and produce television. Those were the days…

I agree, there’s a lot of potential here, if rethought with an overtly political 21st century twist — two characters who really can’t get along and who have totally different aims, but who are bound to each other in order to activate their powers.

Yeah, Just from the looks of those covers, I’m with stealthwise on the ‘concept that wasn’t executed well at all’ thing. Punch up the complexity even a bit and you’ve got a potentially extraordinary setup there.

The Kirbydotter

June 30, 2007 at 10:23 am

HAWK AND DOVE was an interesting concept in theory but hardly an easy one to sell on a monthly basis. Extremes are not easy for the reader to identify with and Hawk and Dove were such opposite extremes that they were caricatures. The fact that there were many creative change in this short lived series didn’t help either. A failed Ditko idea when it came out.

I also liked the Kesel/Liefeld mini. As Doug said it, having a good inker and still doing human bodies with proportions that had yet to defy laws of physics made it a fun read. I think the association with the whole Gods of Law and Order thing was a good idea for those two. Dawn was a much better character than Don, even if the two opposite brothers idea was a good one.

Ian Astheimer

June 30, 2007 at 2:30 pm

You skipped the weird guitar-playing, gun-shooting Hawk and Dove of a few years ago. I don’t know anything about them, though, so I’m not too upset.

That mini did get a mention, actually. Here:

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.

I don’t know anyone who picked up the title, but the revamp — divorced from the Lords of Chaos and Order and featuring a slacker Dove with a guitar and a military brat Hawk with guns, a telepathic link between them — had the potential to be an effective modernization of the core dichotomy. Of course, aside from a cameo or two in Titans, the duo’s been all but forgotten. With a necessary name change to differentiate between the Granger girls, the team — or at least the battle-ready Hawk — could be viable players on any youth-friendly team. Teen Titans needs someone(s) to fill out its ever-thinning ranks, no?

If only we could just have Hawk and Dove running around to act as political allegories, instead of Civil War or Amazons Attack.

I read and loved the Kesel Hawk and Dove series, still have the complete run, and have very fond memories of the whole thing. It had an excellent supporting cast of friends and family; it managed to make both Hawk and Dove sympathetic and intelligent characters, without compromising their viewpoints; it didn’t resort to any “they’re secretly in love” cliches; it had a lot of fun moments and quotable dialogue; and it introduced some fun new villains (let me explain this to folks who might have only been reading comics for the last decade or so; back in the old days, sometimes villains would show up that had never showed up before, that the writer of the series made up all by themselves. Weird, huh?)

In short, it was a great series, criminally unnoticed, and absolutely desecrated by ‘Armageddon 2001′. Go back, buy the back issues, they’re all cheap, and join me in lobbying for ‘DC Showcase Presents Hawk and Dove’.

They did a great job with the characters in the JLU episode. To be fair though, the episode was a little ham-fisted in it’s take on war and peace and all that, but Hawk and Dove came off very well in the episode, which, because of it’s 2004 air-date, made the Hawk and Dove characters surprisingly relevant.

heheh… I love Ditko, that mad old fascist. I love the way he TRIES to be reasonable, and present both sides of an argument, but can’t help himself.

“The Challenger… and The Challenged!”

Cor, doesn’t that make Dove sound heroic? Nothing says “hero” like a euphamism for mental disability…

And yet- he’s one of the greatest cartoonists of his generation, without a doubt.

Anyoone else notice paralels (I give up I can’t remember how to spell the word) with Frank Miller?

“heheh… I love Ditko, that mad old fascist. I love the way he TRIES to be reasonable, and present both sides of an argument, but can’t help himself.”

you’re nuts
How can people misunderstand Ditko so greatly… he left because he didn’t like dove’s portrayal. Seriousl, look up ditko. He wasn’t right wing, and if he was, it certainly was never reflected in anything he wrote. his beliefs were based on reasoning, not religion(or what have you).

“Seriousl, look up ditko. He wasn’t right wing, and if he was, it certainly was never reflected in anything he wrote.”

I…I have no idea if this is serious or some kind of elaborate joke.

Take Hank and Don as Law (their father was a judge, after all) and Dawn and Holly as Chaos, but both still Hawk and Dove and Dove and Hawk, and I think something interesting could happen there.

Aaron “The Mad Whitaker” Bourque

For me it would be hard to find those back issues.A trade paperback containing them would be great.

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