For Your Consideration: DC’s Hawk & Dove: The Silver Age

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

DC Comics was undergoing radical changes as 1968 arrived, as long-running series either gained new creative teams or were canceled along with a wave of new titles. Much of this was a result of Carmine Infantino’s elevation to Editorial Director and his infusion of new editorial blood, including import Dick Giordano.

Giordano had been at Charlton Comics since the 1950s and as the Action Hero line was ending, he was open to making a move from Derby, Connecticut to Manhattan. He brought with him his sturdy friend Steve Ditko and a bunch of newcomers including Jim Aparo, Steve Skeates, and Denny O’Neil.

Showcase #75

Showcase #75


The first book Giordano worked on from scratch was Showcase #75, which was suggested by Infantino. Ditko took the culture’s buzzwords for left- and right-wing points of view and turned them into his latest creation, the Hawk and the Dove. Reflecting his Ayn Rand-influenced worldview, the series had two college age brothers constantly bickering over social issues, reflecting what was happening on campuses from coast to coast. Arbitrating between the two was their father, a district court judge and when he was the target of a hit, the brothers had to warn him. The problem, though, was they were trapped by the criminals and couldn’t break free.

A mysterious voice told them they could have the power they sought and, as if by magic or divine intervention, they were transformed into costumed, powerful figures – Hawk and Dove!

Hawk & Dove: The Silver Age

Hawk & Dove: The Silver Age


So began a short-lived series with characters that have endured since their 1968 debut and DC Comics is celebrating their longevity with Hawk & Dove: The Silver Age, collecting Showcase #75. The Hawk & Dove #1-6 and Teen Titans #21.

Recognizing that Ditko’s dialogue left something to be desired, Giordano had Skeates step in to dialogue the series with his one contribution being that Don and Hank Hall had to say their heroic names to activate their powers. Almost from the outset, the series was struggling as Ditko, Skeates had diametrically opposed political stances, and the writer complained whenever the artist or editor changed Dove’s heroic actions. He told Jon B. Cooke that Dove’s character was being reduced to that of a “wimp, wuss, coward or whatever”.

The Hawk and The Dove #1

The Hawk and The Dove #1


Skeates also noted to Glen Cadigan that “the Comics Code would not let a character question authority – the police or the government. That was a basic no-no according to them, which right there cut down the effectiveness of the Dove.”

The pair fought a variety of foes starting with the Drop-Outs, resembling the Mad Men Ditko used at Charlton. They proved to be their only costumed foes as subsequent stories featured common criminals and corrupt politicians.

Ditko’s tuberculosis acted up, forcing him to cut back on his work; so, he stepped away from the series, with Giordano turning the art chores over to Gil Kane, inked at first by Sal Trapani. Skeates and Kane were closer in view, but the writer found new things to chafe over, such as Kane’s constant changing the storytelling, rearranging panels so dialogue was moved, making the characters look foolish.

The Hawk and The Dove #5

The Hawk and The Dove #5


According to historians Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs, “Kane contributed some of his most energetic action art to the next four issues, but now the overtly liberal bias lacked texture.” When Skeates took an unannounced vacation, Kane stepped in to write issue #5 with Wally Wood doing uncredited inking.

During their run, Giordano had them guest star in Teen Titans #21 (leading right from the final page of H&D #5) to give them greater exposure. In a story written and pencilled by Neal Adams, with inks by regular artist Nick Cardy, the brothers join the Titans in their hunt for aliens from Dimension X. Including it here is nice for completeness, but being part of a multi-parter could be confusing.

Teen Titans #21

Teen Titans #21


While Giordano never saw the sales figures, he was finally told the series would end with issue #6, allowing Skeates the chance to alter the final page “and had the Hawk flat out quit.” As he prepared to replace the title on his schedule with the Titans, Skeates always felt there were more stories to tell with the bickering brothers. While not included, the pair returned to the team with issue #25, when the teens gave up their costumes for a brief spell.

The heroes continued to appear with less and less frequency, letting Alan Brennert write a brilliant team-up with Batman in The Brave and the Bold years later and then Dove made the ultimate sacrifice in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Hawk seemed unmoored without his brother’s counterbalance which made him ideal to evolve into Monarch during Armageddon 2001. Under Barbara and Karl Kesel, Dawn Granger inherited Dove’s power and became Hawk’s new partner in the 1990s. It is this incarnation of the pair that will next be seen on the Teen Titans television series now in production.  That should not, though, interfere with your enjoyment of these little seen gems.

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