DC Comics once briefly introduced a character who bore a striking resemblance to a certain X-Men mutant–then killed him off in the same issue.
DC Comics once briefly introduced a character who bore a striking resemblance to the X-Men’s Angel–then killed him off in the same issue. Hawkman, introduced in 1940, is both one of DC’s most essential and most complicated characters, owed largely to the convoluted nature of his history and origin. Hawkman has alternately been Carter Hall, an ancient Egyptian prince reincarnated as an archaeologist, Katar Hol, a police officer from the planet Thanagar, or sometimes a combination of elements that seem to vary from story to story and continuity to continuity. Although several stories have tried to make sense of the Hawkman continuity, it is fair to say that it is this convolution that keeps many readers away from Hawkman. This is unfortunate, considering the number of thrilling and pivotal stories that have featured Hawkman.
One of these, The Shadow War of Hawkman, which featured Hawkman in his Katar Hol space cop persona, told the story of Hawkman in battle with his former homeworld of Thanagar, with whom he had previously severed ties over a major political disagreement. It was in this story that Icarus, also known as Eddie Hamilton, was introduced, and immediately resembled the X-Men’s Angel.
The 1985 Hawkman miniseries The Shadow War of Hawkman (written by Tony Isabella, penciled by Richard Howell and inked by Alfredo Alcala) was, when it came out, undoubtedly one of DC Comics’ more brutally violent superhero offerings at the time. The Shadow War of Hawkman #2 was not just Icarus’s first, but his only appearance. In fact, Hamilton is introduced mere pages before he is killed by the group of Thanagarians responsible for the invasion of Earth. Hamilton, described as a farm-boy from Kansas, was depicted with the power to sprout wings from his back–his appearance in flight being not too different from that of Warren Worthington III, known to X-Men fans variously as Angel or Archangel . Additionally, Hamilton is described in narration as a mutant, and, although the word means a specific and different thing to the Marvel universe as it does to the competition, it’s enough of a similarity to be pointed out, coincidental or not.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that Icarus was introduced and killed in a matter of pages, ultimately rendering the character, whose bright, pleasant demeanor and all-American good looks could have made him a beloved new hero, something of a missed opportunity for DC. DC may have a ton of characters on their roster, but they do have to always be on the look-out for the next hit superhero–and Icarus, who seems more than anything like a friendlier version of Hawkman, may have been it. It seems unusual that a new superhero would be introduced and killed off within the same issue, for no other reason than to punctuate the threat a villain poses, and unfortunate that a character with such a positive demeanor couldn’t have at least been allowed to have his own adventures before being killed.
It seems as though Icarus was introduced merely to inspire sadness in the reader–which, again, is unusual considering the amount of thought and development that seemed to have gone into introducing the character. Icarus easily could have been an interesting sidekick to Hawkman and Hawkwoman, an eager young hero ready to take on crime with newly-developed powers, ready to face his own struggles and come into his own. Particularly considering the constant popularity of teen heroes, Icarus could have been a valuable asset to DC Comics. Instead, he remains little more than a strange and sad footnote in Hawkman‘s long and convoluted career.
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