Monday, September 13, 2010

Let's Agree Never to Mention This Again

As I'm sure most of you are aware, Julius Schwartz was the editor for the revived All-American Comics during the Silver Age. The Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, and Hawkman all returned under his watchful eye, as did the Justice Society (rechristened, of course, as the Justice League) of America. Schwartz edited all those magazines from their Silver Age debuts (plus the New Look Batman and Detective) until late 1967. However, when the Spectre got his own (brief) series, Schwartz was relieved of responsibility for Hawkman effective with issue #22 (Oct-Nov 1967). The new editor was George Kashdan.

As was usual back then, a restuffing of the editorial chair also meant an entirely new direction for the series, including new artists (Dick Dillin replacing Murphy Anderson), and a new writer (Bob Haney filling in for Gardner Fox). In the opening story, it is revealed that Carter Hall is actually an alien from Thanagar:

Say it loud, say it proud, Carter. At first he is arrested, but when Hawkman defeats the villain of the issue, a grateful city hall has him released. What's that? You want to know how Hawkman could beat a villain while his real identity was in prison? Well, actually Carter was a Thanagarian android that Hawkman had sub for him.

Now, you might expect there to be one of those complicated excuses where it is then established to the public's knowledge that Carter was in fact an Earthman, and was only pretending to be an alien to further some goal. But no:

And you might expect lots of interesting plot complications in future issues as Carter had to deal with reactions to his alien nature. No to that as well. In fact, as far as I can tell it was never mentioned again, except for this note in the letters column of Hawkman #24:

By #26, Kashdan was out as editor, and Murray Boltinoff was in. Hawkman's solo series was canceled after #27, although he was combined with the Atom to form the Atom and Hawkman series for another year, where he was reunited with editor Julius Schwartz. However, I can find no other mention of Carter Hall being an alien.


RAB said...

I've never read this issue -- I think I may have been aware it existed, though never saw it -- and now I really want to. There may be silly or campy elements here, but Hawkman's declaration that revealing their heritage is a good thing "because other alien beings may someday arrive on Earth, and meet the same fear and hysteria" is kind of awesome. To have put such sentiments in a 1967 comic is righteous and innately cool...and this is hardly the first time Haney impressed me with a compassionate sentiment in one of his tales. The guy had heart, I tell you what.

(That said, Katar probably just stopped mentioning it because everyone on Earth answered "Um, yeah, but we already knew about that guy in know, the one from Krypton?")

Pat said...

RAB, I do like that aspect of the story, although by 1967 these kinds of "message" stories were not as uncommon as they would have been a few years earlier.

David said...

I didn't read the story, so I'm confused.

Are you saying the world now knows Katar is from Thanagar, but not that he's Hawkman? What exactly is the point of that? If he wants to foster positive Earth/alien relations, why doesn't he just say, "I, Hawkman, am an alien, and incidentally I just saved your city for the ninth time this month." Wouldn't a big-name superhero be a better ambassador for aliens than an obscure museum curator?

So does everyone know Hawkman is from Thanagar, too? Android duplicates aside, how long is it going to be before someone figures out the secret ID with such a prominent trail of breadcrumbs? It's like Oliver Queen winning a televised, international archery competition and then claiming it's just a coincidence Green Arrow wears the same beard he does.

Booksteve said...

The thing I remember most here actually is that letter from James MaCane because he was from my town and I didn't know him. I just naturally assumed I knew all the comics fans in Covington! I think we looked him up in the phone book but of course kids weren't listed in the book so...

Pat said...

David, yes, his double identity as Hawkman is not exposed, just that Carter himself is from Thanagar. What this does to Police Commissioner Emmett (who vouched for Carter to the museum authorities) is never explained either.