Review by Bill Henley. The Hawk and the Dove, an attempt at late 60's comics "relevance" created by Steve Ditko, involved a pair of teenage brothers, Hank and Don Hall, with opposed temperaments and philosophies. Hank was aggressive and prone to try to solve problems with his fists, while Don was a pacifist who tried to avoid violence at all costs. When a "mysterious voice" turned the brothers into costumed superheroes, the Hawk battled baddies with unrestrained violence while the Dove tried rather awkwardly to stop crimes without violence. By all accounts, the early issues by Ditko and scriptwriter Steve Skeates were marked by something of a hawk/dove dichotomy between the creators, as Ditko decidedly leaned toward "hawkishness" and (at least according to Skeates' interviews) undermined attempts to show that the Dove could be heroic in his own way. However, Ditko fell ill and left the series after three issues (SHOWCASE #75 and H & D #1 and 2) and Gil Kane came on board, working with Skeates on #3-4 and taking over the scripting chores himself with this issue. As we shall see, Kane was more sympathetic to the Dove's viewpoint, and, indeed, his issues tended to lean the other way, making the Dove the real hero and the Hawk a hotheaded foil.
As the story opens, a ruthless masked gunman commits a robbery, shoots down a policeman or guard (not clear which) and then, to top it off, runs down a child with his car while making his getaway. But fortunately for the cause of justice, an arrest is quickly made in the case, and a newspaper headline announces that police have two witnesses to prove the guilt of the suspect, who unmasked is a rather meek and mild looking fellow named Sam Hodgins. Or is the cause of justice really being served? Judge Hall, the father of our young heroes Hank and Don-- portrayed in previous issues as a hard-nosed jurist with a Ditkoesque view of an absolute separation between good and evil-- isn't so sure. He is shocked to find Sam Hodgins appearing for arraignment in his courtroom, as Hodgins is an old friend of his who once saved his life. As a friend of the accused, Judge Hall can't preside at his trial, but he promises to do whatever he can to help his old friend prove his innocence. Returning from a crimefighting foray as Hawk and Dove, followed by the usual arguments (Dove: "You did it again, Brother! You HAD to beat on those hoods we lucked on... we could have taken them without violence, but you'e always looking for an excuse to bash someone's skull!" Hawk: "Aaaah! You give me a pain, you lily-livered, do-gooder creep!") Reverting to their normal identities as Hank and Don Hall, the brothers find their father-- much admired by both of them-- brooding over the situation with Hodgins. Both boys want to help their father and decide to use their Hawk and Dove abilities (both of them are stronger and more skilled in their magical hero identities than as themselves) to help clear Hodgins' name. They figure that if they are in fact able to assume their Hawk and Dove identities by saying the names, that will in itself help prove Hodgins' innocence, since the Hawk and Dove power only works "when injustice is present!"
The transformation does indeed take place, accompanied by "undulating waves of force," and Hawk and Dove set out for the city's warehouse district in pursuit of the two witnesses against Hodgins, named Johnny Randall and Stan McGuire. Hawk figures the "sleazy neighborhood" where these men are to be found is a point against them in itself, but Dove chides him for his prejudice. But when the two men are located, they do indeed look like typical DC thugs-- nattily dressed, but grim-faced and nervous and one with a pencil-thin mustache. As they move along the streets, Hawk and Dove follow them along the rooftops until they meet with some other shady-looking types-- and, eavesdropping on their conversation, our heroes confirm that the two witnesses are part of a "hot car" stealing ring laying its plans for more thefts!
As Part II of the story opens, the Dove suggests following the gang some more to catch them in the criminal act, but Hawk is having none of that; "Nuts! You know me better than that! If violence upsets you, then STAY BACK!" Dove indeed hangs back as Hawk crashes through a window and lays a punch on one of the thugs. (Gil Kane shows his flair for wild physical action and exaggerated positions, very much in the Ditko and Jack Kirby mode. From a standpoint of visual style he was a good choice to follow up Ditko on this strip.) As a baffled crook shouts, "THERE'S ANOTHER ONE OUT THERE!", Hawk replies, "I'm the HAWK! And if you want to know who HE is-- GO ON OUT AND ASK HIM!" As the Hawk beats on Randall, demanding to know why he is lying about Sam Hodgins, Dove grabs McGuire's gun before he can shoot Hawk in the back, and ducks as McGuire tries to punch him and instead punches the wall. As McGuire gives out with some comic-book-style cussing, (symbolized by random punctuation marks) Dove rebukes him; "Here now! I know it hurts but your friends are impressionable!" Though Hawk beats Randall nearly unconscious, the crook insists that he told the truth about Hodgins being the robber they are really hunting. Dove pulls Hawk off of the dazed, babbling Randall, but then the two brothers play a round of "good cop, bad cop" with McGuire. As the thug cowers and begs Dove to keep the near-berserk Hawk off him, Dove counsels him; "I'll try to restrain him, sir... though as you see, he's in a rather unreasonable mood! I'm sure you understand that it's vastly to your advantage to cooperate with us... don't you think!" The smirk on Dove's face suggests that, despite all his high-minded objections to Hawk's violence, he's not above making use of that violence on occasion. But even under threat of mauling and mayhem, McGuire too insists, "He... he DONE it, I tell ya! We seen him... runnin' outa the bank... his mask fell off... the cops pulled us in as witnesses... He DONE it! I SWEAR it!" (Despite their criminal activities, these guys perhaps deserve some credit for strength of character in sticking to their story rather than telling Hawk and Dove what they want to hear.) Hawk finally agrees to let McGuire go unharmed, and Dove explains he's not just being typically soft-hearted; if McGuire really is carrying out a frame, they may still find evidence of it by following him. "He may not think he's completely safe, but if you beat him up any more, he'll be afraid to even move!" As the brothers resume their chase across the rooftops, trying to keep the fleeing McGuire in sight, they also resume their endlessly running argument; "Doggonit, why do you always have to be so logical? Can't you ever just let yourself go? Give into your emotions?" Dove replies that he's a big Star Trek fan and Mr. Spock is his idol... no, he doesn't really say that, just, "I'm not even going to bother answering that... Keep an eye on him! There he goes!" Hawk complains that trying to follow somebody while climbing up and down rooftops is difficult, and indeed McGuire dashes into an alley and disappears. "I KNEW I shouldn't have let you talk me into letting him go! I KNEW I should have dropped down and bashed him!" "Oh, shut up! You're going to attract neighbors! Let's keep looking..." Dove suggests that they split up with Hawk returning to the gang hideout and Dove checking out McGuire's home address; "I doubt if they'll go to either, but--" "Another dumb Dove plan! But I guess it's the only one we've got!" "For Pete's sake! You haven't offered a single suggestion since we started, except to crumple noses!" Their bickering is interrupted by the sound of gunshots! A ticket-taker has been shot in the course of a theater robbery, and a screeching car flees the scene! Hawk insists on pursuing the car, which he suspects is driven by McGuire, though Dove is concerned about the condition of the man who was shot. As the car comes to a stop by a waterfront warehouse, Hawk urges, "Time for us to move in!"
The story pauses for ads and installment #5 of "Fact File," a text feature written (I think) by fan turned DC employee Mark Hanerfeld and spotlighting lesser-known DC heroes of the past. This one focuses on Wildcat, retelling the origin of the boxer-hero and describing his crimefighting exploits as a backup feature in the 1940's SENSATION COMICS (whose lead feature was Wonder Woman). Mark commented, "Wildcat is an example of a form of comic strip popular during the Golden Age but all but extinct nowadays. Because the average comic book of that Age contained a greater number of pages, there was space in the magazines to develop secondary featues and characters (who) were not intended to be stars of their own comic magazines (but) ... added a certain variety to the magazine. Many fans tend to remember these 'back features' more vividly and with more affection than the big 'stars' of the era. There was a sort of 'underdog' quality to these secondary strips that made you root for them to do well."
In Part iII of "Death Has Taken My Hand!", the robber in the car, whose face is not clearly shown to the reader, sees Hawk and Dove lurking in his rear-view mirror, so he is aware of their presence as he leaves his car! (Thought balloon) "Dumb birds think I didn't see you, eh? Come on in... I'll be ready and waiting!" Not knowing their quarry is on to them, Hawk and Dove indulge in their usual argument about tactics; Hawk wants to "go on in and bash him", but Dove insists, "You MORON! Can't you get it in your head that YOU HAVE NOT GOT THE RIGHT to 'go in and bash' anybody? You're not a law unto yourself!" Hawk complains but reluctantly agrees to confront the suspect "calmly" and question him.
But as the two costumed teens enter the warehouse where their quarry is hiding, a large, heavy crate is pushed and falls from above on to the Hawk! (If you recall, the cover dialogue by Dove refers to Hawk being shot. But here, he is hit with a heavy object, not shot. I wonder if the Comics Code raised some objection to one of the heroes being shot, and if Giordano and Kane changed the scene in the interior story but forgot to change the cover line?) And now, the Dove, who loves his brother no matter how much they bicker and disagree, finally "gives in to his emotions". After weeping over the inert body of his brother, Dove rises and addresses the mystery man who has attacked him; "KILLER! ROTTEN KILLER! WHERE ARE YOU? IT DOESN'T MATTER WHERE YOU HIDE! I'M GONNA FIND YOU ANYWAY!" The next page juxtaposes a central figure of the enraged Dove with scenes of his fleeing, increasingly panicked foe. "KILLER! I SEE YOU! I'M COMING UP AFTER YOU! YOU HAVEN'T GOT A CHANCE, KILLER! YOU LOOK SCARED, KILLER! WHAT'RE YOU SCARED OF?"
And at last, the cornered "killer" turns to face his avenging foe... who is further shocked to see that he is, after all, Sam Hodgins, the man the Judge so hoped was innocent. But this does not stop the Dove from laying into Hodgins in a violent rampage that almost makes the Hawk's assaults look restrained. Finally, "his wrath and fury spent,", the Dove backs away from the unconscious Hodgins, appalled by his own behavior. Realizing finally that his brother may still be alive after all, the Dove rushes back to summon medical aid and notify the police about Hodgins. As he does so, he automatically reverts to his non-powered Don Hall identity, as with the defeat of Hodgins"injustice" is no longer present. (It was an interesting side feature of the Hawk and Dove strip that, unlike most double identity heroes, they themselves didn't have complete control over when they changed back and forth.) As Hank Hall (who has also reverted to normal) is taken to the hospital, Don concocts a lame story about how the two boys were climbing around in an old abandoned house and a staircase came down on Hank. Apparently the judge and Mrs. Hall are too worried to question Don much, and for some time the family waits tensely to hear the doctors' verdict (Don sits and stares out a window outside which rain is dripping; somehow scenes like this never take place on bright sunny days). Finally they get the answer; despite a bad concussion, Hank will recover with "no permanent damage". (The family celebrates, and apparently the Judge is relieved eough by his son's survival that he's not too bothered by the fact that his old buddy Hodgins was guilty after all.) "He's a strong lad! We couldn't have saved him if he himself hadn't fought so hard."
Several days later, Don has the chance to see Hank privately in the hospital room, and Hank starts out berating Don for insisting on a cautious approach that gave Hodgins the chance to attack. But when Don sobbingly confesses his own guilt for endangering his brother and then betraying his ideals with the violent assault on Hodgins, Hank has a change of heart and for once is the reasonable and understanding one. "Don... I'm sorry for ranting at you...look, you're not wrong, any more than I am... you just did what's human, that's all... it doesn't negate your philosophy. Anyone would have snapped! Besides you also SAVED my life, after all... We've still got a lot to learn, right? So let's shake hands and be friendly enemies again! Is it a deal, Creampuff?" And a consoled Don agrees, "It's a deal, Neanderthal!"
That's "The End" of the story, but a 2/3 page "The End Plus Two Weeks" coda, which appears to have been hastily drawn by Kane, shows Hawk (who has apparently made a very quick and complete recovery) and Dove chasing another mysterious figure. This time it is Dove who leads the pair in crashing through a window in hot pursuit. Their sudden appearance puzzles another group of youthful crimefighters; "WHA-- WHO? Who the devil are THEY?" Caption: "Hey-- isn't that the TEEN TITANS? You bet your sweet bippy it is! And they're on a collision course with THE HAWK AND THE DOVE in TEEN TITANS ##21 on sale March 18th!"
The guest apperance in TITANS was evidently an attempt to bolster Hawk and Dove with some extra exposure. Did it work? Well, HAWK & DOVE #6, also written and pencilled by Gil Kane, sent Hawk and Dove in pursuit of a mystery villain who has kidnapped their father-. They manage to track him down (thanks mainly to the Dove's budding investigative skills) and discover he is the son of a man whom the Judge once sentenced to prison and who died there. He wants the Judge to suffer a similar fate. The Hawk and Dove rescue their father, but the young "vigilantes" get no credit from the Judge (though he appears to have no idea who the Hawk and Dove really are). Having seemingly pulled back from his hard-line Ditko attitude, the Judge figures that his kidnapper was mentally unbalanced and pitiable, and that he (the Judge) could have talked his way out of the situation without violence. Downcast by this unwitting rejection by their father, the boys question the value of continuing their costumed careers. Hank: "Maybe the whole idea of the Hawk and the Dove was a BIG MISTAKE! Maybe we ought to GIVE THE WHOLE THING UP..." Don: "Yeah, maybe you're right..." Final caption: "Is this the END of the Hawk and the Dove??" Apparently this was an oblique way of announcing that it was the end, if not of the Hawk and Dove themselves, at least of THE HAWK AND THE DOVE comic book. H & D was one more of the late 60's experimental DC titles which were abruptly cancelled, after just over a year of publication, due to disappointing early sales figures. The Hawk and Dove didn't actually quit, but after a few more appearances with the Teen Titans, they disappeared into limbo for several years. Then BRAVE & BOLD #181 in 1982 featured a charming though off-continuity tale by Alan Brennert and Jim Aparo (I ought to review it at full length sometime, though it falls beyond the Silver Age) in which Batman encounters a Hawk and Dove who have grown to adulthood but have not resolved their philosophical differences or learned to use their super-powers to best advantage. At the end, the "Voice" which gave Hawk and Dove their powers and identities (and which explains that, contrary to their suspicions, it is not God) withdraws the powers, though it may return them one day, "when you have truly learned what it means to be brothers!" Better perhaps that the Hawk and Dove saga had really ended there. But instead a still-teenage Dove was killed off in CRISIS, and Hawk went on to a new series teamed up with a new female Dove. That series lasted a year or two longer than the original (I didn't read most of them) but Hawk finally was tapped to become the villain Monarch in the ARMAGEDDON mini-series when a previous choice for the villain's identity fell through. Hawk may have been a butt-head, and Dove a wimp, but they both deserved better fates than they received.