A couple days ago, I wrote up my idea for what I would’ve done with a Hawk & Dove title around 2002 (when Dove first returned.) I’ve had enough people encourage me that I’ve decided to write up what I’d do with Hawk & Dove today. First of all, one key element of my previous idea is being thrown out: Hank Hall is back, and I think it best to keep him as Hawk.
To start with, let’s get a bit of history on the characters: the first series was conceived in the Vietnam War era, and the concept was to show that both the Hawks and Doves had valid points, and needed to work together. The brothers Hank and Don Hall were given powers by a mysterious voice. Hank became Hawk, and was the embodiment of aggression and war. Don became Dove, and was the embodiment of pacifism and peace. When the duo was revitalized in the late 80’s, war and peace were thrown out in favor of chaos and order. Specifically, the mysterious voices that gave the brothers their powers were revealed to be Terataya, Lord of Order, and T’Charr, Lord of Chaos, who were in love, and were trying to prove to the others of their kind that order and chaos could get along, and were, in fact, stronger together than apart. Toward this end, they felt that Don Hall wasn’t an acceptable candidate after all, and thus had his powers removed at the most inopportune time possible. He died as a result. Dawn Granger was given the powers in his place, which allowed for romantic tension between Hawk and Dove as a not-quite mirror of their creator’s love. Now, with the most recent return of a Hawk & Dove title, they have returned to the concept of Hawk and Dove as avatars of war and peace. I really liked this as a concept, but think that it fell apart in the execution, as they continued to act more like the embodiments of chaos and order than war and peace. Still, that gave me an idea: what if there were a reason for that?
My original Hawk & Dove pitch was to have Kestrel (and the Lords of Chaos she represents) interfere with the natural process of someone becoming Hawk. What if that was flipped – what if it wasn’t the bad guys that subverted the process, but the good guys? What if Hawk and Dove weren’t attached to Terataya and T’Charr, but were a naturally occurring power passed down from avatar to avatar throughout the ages. Only, to further their own purposes, Terataya and T’Charr used their own power to force the powers to enter Hank and Don Hall (and later Dawn Granger) to further their own end? If this is the case, maybe they corrupted the process and infused peace with order, and war with chaos. As a result, Hawk and Dove are not who they were meant to be. If we alter their origin thusly, we now have the ability to tell stories about war and peace, as well as chaos and order. This is exactly what I would want to do.
The first issue of this new series would be from the perspective of the Phantom Stranger. Hawk and Dove have come to his attention, and something about them is nagging at him, though he can’t place it at first. As he watches them go about their heroic and personal lives, he begins to realize the above problem: that the avatars of war and peace have been “corrupted” with chaos and order. The issue would end with the Phantom Stranger making a decision to correct this imbalance. From the second issue onward, the Phantom Stranger would be repeatedly seen in the background, subtly manipulating both the people they come into contact with and the situations they’re called into action to deal with. We wouldn’t see things from his perspective again. This would allow the reader to be outright told what direction the series is going in (allowing them to be “in the know,” as it were), but keep them guessing throughout the series as to how the Phantom Stranger’s manipulations are furthering this goal. (Incidentally, this is how I think modern comics work best – don’t hide information for a big reveal, as readers may not stick around for that big reveal. Instead, give them the information, and let the implications be the big reveal.)
For Hawk, I would introduce him to a miniatures wargaming group (who he would find via involvement in a paintball team). One of the players who repeatedly beats Hank would constantly quote “The Art of War,” by Sun Tzu (who would be revealed to be a previous avatar of war). As he pushes himself to learn about tactics and strategy, the change would carry over into his heroic identity. I envision a moment, during a major conflict, when the heroes are planning strategy, and Hawk interjects with a reasoned, logical tactical suggestion, and everyone stares at him in shock – with Batman frowning and stating “That’s…a good suggestion. We’ll go with that.”
For Dove, I would push her toward non-violent solutions, as well as the benefits of chaos to peace. Toward that, I would also reintroduce Captain Brian “Sal” Arsala, though I would combine him with his “partner” from my previous Hawk & Dove idea. By that, I mean he would be the one who acts on hunches, and thus, shows Dove the positive sides of chaos, especially where peace is concerned. (Oh, and he’d make a good love triangle with Dove and Deadman.) The big event I see for Dove is a situation where she was too busy helping Hawk fight an enemy that could’ve been avoided, and results in the death of a peaceful protester. As he lays dying, she promises him to try resolving conflicts without throwing a single punch for a full year (and I’d hold to that – for 12 issues, she wouldn’t throw a single punch.) This, of course, will irk Hawk, but he’ll quickly realize that she’s still helping in other ways, and grudgingly accept it. Also, while Hawk is studying Sun Tzu, Dove will be studying a previous avatar of peace: Ghandi, and his words will inspire her to be a new kind of super hero.
Of course, that’s what I’d do with each of them separately. Together, I would use two quotes to embody their relationship:
“The purpose of all war, is peace.” –Saint Augustine
“Si vis pacem, para bellum” –Latin adage meaning “If you wish for peace, prepare for war”
The idea being that they compliment each other in paradoxical ways. During peace-time, they must prepare for war, but during wartime, they must fight for peace. Each of their actions would help the other, while being diametrically opposed to their own philosophy. My goal for the Hawk and Dove title hasn’t changed: it would be to have each and every issue show that both sides have valid points, and that differences, when working together and brought toward a common goal, only serve to make them stronger.
Oh, and the Phantom Stranger wouldn’t be the only one trying to manipulate them. The Lords of Chaos would still be trying to woo Hawk away from Dove (and I’d bring in the Lords of Order trying to woo Dove away from Hawk). I’d also bring Kestrel back – this time, Sal would be taken over (as he’s a perfect conduit for chaos, even as he rebels against Kestrel’s evil…)