Hawkman #3, "Birds in the Gilded Cage!"

HAWKMAN #3; Aug-Sept. 1964; DC Comics; Julius Schwartz, editor; featuring 
Hawkman and Hawkgirl in "The Fear That Haunted Hawkman!" and the cover-featured 
"Birds in the Gilded Cage!"  Both stories written by Gardner Fox and 
pencilled and inked by Murphy Anderson.  On the cover by Anderson, Hawkman  and
Hawkgirl are caught in the aforementioned glowing, golden cage floating in 
mid-air, as a gang of thugs (nattily dressed in coats and ties, like all 60's DC 
thugs, except that one has taken his coat off) are shooting at them at 
point-blank range.

Review by Bill Henley

On the splash page of  "The Fear That Haunted Hawkman!", Hawkgirl is left on
her own to combat an armed  crook an an aerodynamically improbable flying
platform, as Hawkman flies away  like a scared pigeon; "I'm too scared to capture
that Pogo-Jet crook!   You'll have to carry on by yourself, Hawkgirl!"  One
day, "under the  blazing noonday sun," Shiera Hall (aka Hawkgirl) is working in
her garden on the  Midway City museum grounds when a loving couple happens by.
The man (who  looks a bit like Gardner Grayle of the Atomic Knights, but
bears the notable and  distinguished name of Bill) has just offered his girl an
engagement ring, making  her "the happiest girl in the world".  But suddenly
she has a change of  attitude, as the girl cowers back from her lover; "Stay
away from me!   I--I'm AFRAID of you!"  She hurls back the engagement ring and
flees in  terror, much to the puzzlement both of the spurned swain and the
onlooking  Shiera.  Later that moonlit night, Shiera takes her dog Penny for a walk
in  the garden while musing over the day's events; "Love is a funny thing,
isn't it,  Penny?"  Suddenly Penny the poodle starts growling and yelping with
fear,  and yanks her leash loose of Shiera to flee into the night.  "And I
thought  Penny was so fond of me!"

Later, Shiera tries to explain to her husband  Carter Hall about the odd
events, but he is more concerned with an emergency  call from Police Commissioner
Emmett.  It seems Midway City is being  plagued by crooks calling themselves
"Sky-Raiders" who use high-tech "Pogo-jet"  devices to hop through the air and
evade police on the ground and helicopters in  the air.  (Yet another example
of comic-book crooks using gadgetry to steal  when they could make a lot more
money with less risk by selling the inventions  to the Pentagon or some other
eager buyer.)  Hawkman and Hawkgirl are even  more maneuverable in the air,
however, and their wings don't alert the bandits  with loud noise like police
choppers.  Setting themselves up with portable  radar detectors at opposite ends
of Midway City, our heroes keep watch for the  sky-bandits, and it is
Hawkgirl who first catches a trace of them, as they  descend to rob the guests at a
party atop a swank penthouse apartment.  The  raiders'  hopes of a clean
getaway are dashed as the Winged Wonders fly at  them from different directions.  At
first, our heroes make quick work of  the airborne gang, as Hawkman catches
one in a gladiatorial net, Hawkgirl dodges  another's gunfire and upends his
pogo-jet, causing him to descend to earth with  his emergency chute, and Hawkman
lifts another raider off his jet and drops  him. 

But then the tables turn, as Hawkman pursues the now grounded  gang leader
into the Midway City museum garden.  Under the eyes of an  Egyptian statue,
Hawkman catches up to and punches out the crook, who is on the  verge of surrender
when suddenly Hawkman has a change of mind.  Cringing  back from the
gangster, Hawkman shouts, "No-- no!  Got to get away from  him!"  Chickenman, er,
Hawkman flees into the sky as a puzzled but elated  Sky-Raider makes his getaway. 
Rejoining Hawkgirl, Hawkman makes a lame  excuse about "missing" the gang
leader while struggling to control his shakes  and terror.  In the coming days,
Carter Hall broods; "I was actually AFRAID  of that sky-raider!  I still am! 
Does this mean I'm finished as a  crime-fighter?"  while Shiera observes his
odd behavior and worries;  "Carter just isn't himself.  I wish I knew what upset
him so.  But  sooner or later he'll tell me!" Hawkman's newfound cowardice
does not extend to  other foes, however; he haunts police headquarters looking
for assignments, and  flies off to handle a riot singlehandedly while the cops
puzzle, "I've never  seen anybody as eager for a fight as Hawkman!  What's he
trying to prove  anyway?" 

As Part 2 of "Fear" opens, Hawkman continues his quest to  prove his bravery,
taking on a pair of armed thugs, rescuing a family from a  blazing building,
and punching another crook.  But "He alone knows the  bitter truth, against
which he put up a grim, silent battle"... for though he is  not afraid of anyone
or anything else, his terror of the Sky-Raider chief is as  strong as ever. 
And in the meantime, that chief is recruiting a new gang  of raiders and
making improvements on his pogo-jet fleet specifically designed  to deal with
Hawkman.  "Well, this is it!" Carter thinks when Shiera gets a  call from the
Commissioners that the Sky-Raiders are striking again.  "I'm  about to find out if
that haunting fear overwhelms me when I face that  gang-leader again!"  On the
way to face the raiders, Hawkman tells Hawkgirl  that he will take "first
crack" at the raiders, but warns her that he might run  away and leave her to
face them alone.  She asks for an explanation, and  Hawkman confesses at last his
crippling fear of the gang leader.  Hawkgirl  sees a possible connection with
the two incidents of unexplained fear she  witnessed, but before she can
explain, the Hawks and the sky-raiders confront  each other, with the raiders now
armed with new weapons-- glowing saucers they  shoot at Hawkman and Hawkgirl. 
"If one of those charged saucers gets  within a foot of them, it'll stiffen
'em-- for good!"  Hawkman shows no  fear as he uses his long wooden
quarterstaff to fend off the saucers, smashing  each one before it can approach him or
Hawkgirl.  (Good thing he just  happened to pick out the right ancient weapon to
deal with this particular  threat.... A quarterstaff probably wouldn't have
helped much if the raiders had  used plain-ordinary guns.)  Nor does our hero
succumb to terror as he takes  on the three subordinate raiders and knocks them
off their sky-craft.  But  when it comes down to him vs. the leader, the
inexplicable fear kicks in again,  and he shivers and flees, calling on Hawkgirl
to take over.  He can only  watch helplessly from a distance, "paralyzed with
fear," as Hawkgirl takes on  the leader alone, dodging his gunfire and finally
knocking him off his  craft.  Once victorious, instead of scorning her
cowardly consort, Hawkgirl  embraces and comforts him, "Poor sweetheart!  If you'd
only told me what was  wrong, I could have helped you!"  for she has deduced a
possible cause for  his unnatural fear.  She has realized that each of the
fear-incidents took  place in the vicinity of the Egyptian statue in the museum
garden.  Thus  reminded, Hawkman recalls that "This statue was used by a certain
Pharaoh to  keep his subjects in utter fear of him!"  Analyzing the statue
with X-rays,  Hawkman and Hawkgirl discover that it has a tilted slab of "special
mineral"  inside the head, which causes any light entering the top of the
statue's head to  be reflected out its eyes.  "The light must be transmuted into
a ray that  affects the amygdala in the brain!  Experimental scientists have
induced  fear by electrical shocks to this part of the brain!"  Experimenting
with a  bird, the Hawks confirm that the light-rays from the statue also induce
fear.  But they have an antidote.  "By reversing the polarity of the 
mineral, we'll create an opposite effect!"  "Instead of being AFRAID--  anyone whom
that light hits will LIKE whoever he or she is with!"  (Does  that mean that
if Hawkman were with the sky-raider chief or some other crook  when affected by
the light, he'd like the crook enough to help him get away with  his crimes? 
Sounds like a possible springboard for another story, but as  far as I recall
it was never picked up on.)  Hawkman thinks the case is  resolved, but Shiera
knows otherwise, as she contrives to get Bill and his  estranged fiancee back
together under the glowing eyes of the statue, and their  love is rekindled. 
But Shiera's job is still not done, as she hurries off  "to find Penny-- and
make my pet like me again, too!"  (But maybe she never  did find the lost dog,
since I don't believe the prodigal poodle ever showed up  in a story again.) 

In between the issue's two stories, the  "Hawkman's Roost" lettercol appears,
with uniformly enthusiastic comments on  HAWKMAN #1.  One of the laudatory
letters, from Kevin C. Ryan of Houston,  Texas, refers to "Murphy Anderson's
incredibly realistic and detailed  artwork".  I was a little surprised, a while
back, to learn that this  reaction to Anderson's HAWKMAN artwork wasn't
unanimous.  I liked  Anderson's art fine myself at the time these stories first came
out, and still  do.  But an issue of ALTER EGO focusing on the Silver Age
Hawkman indicated  there was a faction of fandom who really hated the changeover
from Joe Kubert  art in the BRAVE & BOLD Hawkman issues to Anderson art in the
short MYSTERY  IN SPACE run and Hawkman's own title.  I don't really
understand  this.  Sure, Kubert's art was great, but I thought Anderson worked just as 
well on the strip, though in a somewhat different way.

Anyway, Anderson  returns to draw the cover-featured "Birds in the Gilded
Cage" in this issue, and  the splash page scene is just another angle on the
cover scene of the caged  Hawkman and Hawkgirl being shot at by crooks. 
"Somewhere north of Midway  City, Hawkman and Hawkgirl swoop towards the lawn of a
mountain hideaway"....it  seems that, on their way to Hawk Valley, they have
happened to spot a group of  known mobsters.  A lucky break for our heroes; not so
lucky, Hawkgirl  notes, is the fact that they haven't brought along any of
their usual ancient  weapons.  So they are obliged to swoop and dodge wildly in
order to evade  the mobsters' gunfire and take them on bare-handed.  "It makes
no  difference.  They'll be in prison cells soon enough!" a confident Hawkgirl
boasts.  "As if Hawkgirl has spoken magic words, prison cells appear"-- one 
prison cell, anyway, floating in mid-air-- but it holds our heroes, not the 
crooks!  Hawkman and Hawkgirl are caged and helpless, and seemingly soon  will
be dead ducks, er, hawks, as the crooks shoot through the cage bars.   But
fortunately, the glow around the cage forms a force-field which deflects the 
bullets.  This is limited consolation, however, as the mobsters make a 
leisurely getaway as the Hawks watch helplessly.  Shortly afterwards, a  winged,
purple, birdlike alien flies up and dissolves the cage with a wand,while  beaming a
telepathic explanation; "I beamed that protective cage around you-- so  those
hunters wouldn't harm you!"  The alien fails to comprehend our  heroes'
indignant response that they were the ones doing the hunting, and  Hawkman deduces
that though they can understand the bird-alien's thoughts, human  thoughts are
on the wrong "frequency" for telepathic communication.  The  Winged Wonder
observes, though, that as the bird-alien approaches another of its  kind. it
flies erratically as if it were communicating complex messages by the  pattern of
its flight.

Back in Midway City, the Hawks report the debacle  to Commissioner Emmett,
who gripes about the unwanted interference of the aliens  with a police case. 
But perhaps all is not lost, as a small bird knocks on  the window.  As Hawkman
communicates with the bird, the irritable Emmett  complains, "Well, what's it
saying?  I can't understand a WHEET from a  TWEET!"  It seems that Hawkman
sent the bird to follow the escaping  mobsters and keep tabs on them, and now it
has come to report while sending yet  another bird on the crooks' trail. 
Following a succession of avian "stool pigeons", the Hawks catch up with the
fleeing mobsters and prepare to capture  them at last.  But wouldn't you know it,
the purple bird-aliens show up  again to benevolently "protect" our heroes,
who they think have been lured into  the sights of the "hunters" by some sort
of "duck call" equivalent.   Quickly, Hawkman orders Hawkgirl to fly a
figure-eight along with him.  "No  time to explain!  It (the bird-creature) won't
interfere with us  now!"  And indeed, as the avian alien waits and watches,
Hawkman and  Hawkgirl take on the crooks, grabbing the rear bumper of their car and
using  their anti-gravity belts at full power to upend it.  subduing the
mobsters  as they fall to the ground.  With the crooks safely in hand, Hawkman 
directs Hawkgirl to hover motionless in the air, her wings spread upward, as he 
flies a circle around her.  Hawkgirl complies but demands to know the  meaning
of these "mad antics".  Hawkman explains that he has observed and  deduced
the meaning of a couple of the bird-aliens' flight signals.  the  figure-eight
means "Don't interfere", while the circle around a line means  "Farewell". 
(Hmmm.... perhaps those signals should have been reversed,  since in real life it
is a circle with a slash through it that has come to  symbolize "don't do
this".)  Back in Midway City, the Hawks report their  exploit to a pleased
Emmett, who dismisses them to go home by making the  "farewell" symbol with his

Reviewing or rereading a Silver  Age Hawkman story always brings to mind a
question....why was HAWKMAN the least  successful of the Julie Schwartz Golden
Age hero revivals, except for the later  SPECTRE?  Why did the Winged Wonder
take so long to win a book of his own,  and then lose it relatively quickly
(after 29 issues)?  The series had  planty going for it, including solid scripts
by Gardner Fox and brilliant art by  both (IMO) Kubert and Anderson?

Did fans really not warm to the Anderson  art, as the ALTER EGO comments by
Mike Vosburg and others suggest?  Or,  conversely, was it the Kubert art in B &
B, decidedly different from the  slick look of the Flash or Green Lantern
series, that initially turned off some  readers?

Did the team-up of married partners turn off younger readers,  who still
thought "girls are icky" and didn't want to read about "mushy stuff"  or heroes
who reminded them of their parents?

Did heroes whose only real  super-power was flight seem ineffectual compared
to the likes of Flash, GL, or  Superman?  Maybe so (though the Atom was no
super-powerhouse either, and he  did better than Hawkman despite getting a later
start-- and obviously a lack of  super-power didn't cripple Batman).

My personal theory is that, while all  the above factors may have entered in,
Julie Schwartz went one hero too far with  the science-fictional emphasis
that proved successful with Flash, GL, and  Atom.   Most popular superheroes have
a fairly simple origin that can  be summarized in a sentence or so.  Not so
Hawkman and Hawkgirl.   Alien policemen who land on Earth chasing one of their
own crooks but then just  happen to decide to hang around.... who have wings
and costumes that  coincidentally resemble Earth birds.... who are associated
with space despite  having wings (which wouldn't work in a vacuum) and bare
chests (well, Hawkman,  anyway-- if Hawkgirl had also had that costume, the
series might have been a lot  more popular, except it wouldn't have got past the
Comics Code) ... who have  access to advanced alien weapons but for no
particularly comprehensible reason  use ancient Earth weaopns instead.  Too many
discordant elements.   Schwartz would have done better in this cae, IMO, if he and
Fox had gone back to  the Golden Age Hawkman's origin, or something closer to
it.  Say, Carter  and Shiera Hall are real Earthly museum archeologists who
find the wings and  "Nth metal" anti-gravity belts in a ruin of an ancient
civilization and decide  to use them to fight evil.  Simplet, and probably more
comprehensible to  the average Silver Age reader.  And I suspect the series might
have worked  better by emphasizing more mysticism and Earth-based
supernatural/spooky  elements, rather than Schwartz's beloved science fiction elements. 
(For  example, making the fear-inducing statue in this issue's lead story a 
supernatural element rather than a contrived sci-fi gimmick.)

Not that  the SA Hawkman wasn't a good series as it stood....but I can kind
of see why it  didn't become a big hit.