When it comes to comics, certain identities like Superman are set in stone, as there is only one character associated with the name. Other identities are fluid, with different people taking on a superhero role. Two identities that have always fascinated me are Hawk and Dove, as they represent a divide between peace and war. Over the years, the identities have been used by a few characters, with the common theme being clashing ideologies that balance each other out. The Comic Vault is looking into the history of the identities to see if they still have any relevance in the modern day.
Hawk and Dove were created by Steve Ditko and Steve Skeates, with the original and most well-known pairing being two brothers called Hank and Don Hall. The characters were inspired by political views of the 1960s, centring around the war hawks and war doves. The former is someone who favours war, while the latter takes a more peaceful view. Hawk represented violence and aggression and Dove signified pacifism. The brothers complimented each other’s personalities, providing order for a world that threatened to fall into chaos. The characters gained their powers from the Lords of Chaos and Order, supernatural entities locked in an eternal battle.
Hank and Don Hall were the sons of a judge who had various enemies. In order to protect their father, the brothers chased down a criminal, but ended up in a bind. The Lords of Chaos and Order took notice and bestowed the powers of Hawk and Dove, allowing the Halls to save their father. Hawk and Dove went on many adventures together, until Dove was killed in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. Without Dove to balance him out, Hawk became increasingly violent and descended into madness. This sparked the first tragic element of the duo that’s followed them throughout their creation.
A young woman called Dawn Granger became the new Dove, receiving her powers after saving her mother from terrorists. Dawn differed from Don in that she was more aggressive and self-confident, though still represented the traditional view of peace. It could be argued that she made a better partner for Hawk because she wasn’t afraid to challenge him when necessary.
After Hank Hall went on a rampage, he was eventually killed and Dawn’s sister, Holly became the new Hawk. Dawn and Holly carried on the legacy for a time until the latter was slaughtered by a resurrected Hank in Blackest Night. Ultimately, Dove was able to overcome the evil that had poisoned Hall and he returned to the Hawk identity.
For as long as the characters have been around, their powers have stayed the same. Dove has the ability to sense danger and act as a calming influence to people with anger issues. The identity also comes with superhuman strength, durability and reflexes. The Dawn Granger incarnation also has access to the White Light of Creation, which proved to be crucial in defeating the Black Lanterns during Blackest Night. Hawk’s powers revolve around superhuman attributes, with him arguably having the greater strength of the pair. Without Dove to calm his violent tendencies, the character is prone to psychotic breaks.
With the pair representing duelling ideologies, I’d say their relevance is more important than ever for the modern political climate. Hawk’s thirst for confrontation can be felt by many people who want to take action. As an exemplar for pacifism, Dove represents those who believe peace is a better way. Both views can have benefits and disadvantages in certain situations. Hawk is able to stand up for what he believes in, but his violence can be excessive. Dove wants to make the world a better place, but indecision and turning the other cheek to everything could lead to becoming a doormat.
By balancing each other out, Hawk and Dove represent the duality of life. Writers have a natural way to tackle modern day issues by using the pair in stories. There’s a morally grey struggle that can be utilised between the pair, which is why I believe the characters have so much potential. It’s a shame that Hawk and Dove have only be used sporadically, because I think they could carry an ongoing series that relates to the modern political landscape.