Tuesday, 24 August 2010

DC Comics Super Hero Collection - Hawkgirl and Hawkman

With all the retcons, reboots and reimaginings that DC regularly subjects its characters to, quite a few have back stories that even its most devoted readers have trouble unravelling. Few, however, are as muddled or confused as those of Hawkgirl and Hawkman.

The irony here is that, although it can be argued some characters need to be retooled every decade or so simply to remain contemporary, the back story of the "Hawks" is one that should have ensured it would never have to be rewritten.

Essentially, the original characters - Carter Hall and Shiera Sanders - are the reincarnations of a ruler of Ancient Egypt, Prince Khufu, and his wife. They are destined to continually die and be reincarnated, continually rediscovering their love for each other only to die again. It should, therefore, have been perfectly possible to invent a new identity for each of them whenever it was felt the old ones were becoming dated. There should never have been any reason to rewrite any of the history that had gone before.

But DC, of course, is not exactly renowned for its ability to resist the urge to fix what ain't broke. The stories of Hawkman and Hawkgirl have been added to, subtracted from and otherwise rejigged to such an extent that the current "official" position as detailed in the DC Comics Super Hero Collection magazine (which accompanied Eaglemoss's excellent Hawkman figurine on this page) is virtually incomprehensible.

For my part, I must admit I find it it easier to just ignore the many confused and conflicting revisions of the past forty or fifty years. Despite the efforts of Geoff Johns and others to reposition Hawkman at the centre of the DCU (a position he hasn't held since he regularly chaired JSA meetings in the 1940s), my childhood memories of him are as a distinctly second-tier character. And, although I know she was his partner as far back as the Golden Age, I have no memory of ever having seen Hawkgirl at all before her wonderfully feisty incarnation as part of the Justice League animated TV series.

I have no idea whether, in the current continuity, they are supposed to be human or Thanagarian. I really don't care why, despite the fact that their wings are artificial devices (made, inevitably, from the now ubiquitous "nth metal") and held in place by a harness, the characters are seen without them even less often than Batman is seen without his cowl. The core story created for them by Gardner Fox back in 1939 is so strong that, as long as I keep that in the back of my mind, it enables me to ignore everything else and make some sense of even the most convoluted modern version of their lives.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Look! Up in the sky! It's super lesbians!

If you have any interest in mainstream superhero comics (even if, like me, it's a level of interest that seldom seems to get much further than a despairing shake of the head!), you'll have googled your favourite good guys and bad guys from time to time. Let's be honest, as a way of keeping up-to-date with what's happening over there in Mainstream Land, it's far more economical than buying every single issue of every single title that DC or Marvel have shoe-horned into their latest Universe-changing Crossover Event.

And, if you have googled your favourite super humans, you'll know that it's virtually impossible to do so without stumbling across a whole slew of fan fiction and super hero porn. Perhaps inevitably, lesbian sex features prominently. More surprisingly, however, is the extent to which certain of those lesbian relationships seem to have taken such a hold on the collective online consciousness that it's sometimes difficult to believe that they aren't in fact part of the publisher's mainstream canon.

The three most widely "accepted" of these imaginary relationships are between the Teen Titans' Starfire and Raven (presumably boosted by the success of the animated TV show), Batman's foes Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn (fuelled by a comic mini-series in which Ivy took Harley under her protection and the Gotham Girls animated web-series in which the two are shown sharing an apartment) and, arguably two of the most iconic super heroines of all, Batgirl and Supergirl.

Google for more than a minute or two and you'll find depictions of these three pairings in pretty much every situation you could possibly imagine (and quite a few you probably couldn't!) Some are obviously designed to titillate and arouse; others are, frankly, quite sadistic and disturbing; and one or two are even, well ... kinda cute and affectionate.

And then there's this:
This is clearly an extract from a larger story. Sadly, I've no idea where the rest of it can be found or who the creator is but, if anyone knows, do tell me. I'd like to credit them properly.

Strictly speaking, of course, it's not porn at all (you'll find more bare flesh in pretty much any real DC or Marvel title!) but it just succeeds on so many levels. Without showing anything remotely "naughty", it manages to reference so much. The characters' body language and facial expressions are spot on, entirely in keeping with both their official mainstream personalities as well as their fan-fiction alter-egos, while the subject matter and dialogue says even more about their fans.

I know it's wrong, but it makes me smile!