Secret Origins #11: Power Girl and Golden Age Hawkman

Ryan Daly and new guest Anj review the new origin of Power Girl from issue #11 of Secret Origins. Then, Luke Jaconetti returns for the origin of the Golden Age Hawkman.

Listen to Episode 11!

Subscribe to Secret Origins Podcast on iTunes!

Sample pages from Secret Origins #11, written by Paul Kupperberg with art by Mary Wilshire (Power Girl), and Roy Thomas and Luke McDonnell (Hawkman), and a cover by Jerry Ordway.

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Plus, sample pages from Hawkman’s first appearance in Flash Comics #1, written by Gardner Fox with art by Dennis Neville.

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Check out Anj’s Supergirl blog, Comic Box Commentary

Check out Luke Jaconetti’s Earth Destruction Directive podcast at Two True Freaks:

And his Hawkman blog, Being Carter Hall

“Premonition” (Theme for Secret Origins Podcast) by Neil Daly.

Additional music this episode: “Live Forever” by Oasis; “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson.

Leave a comment, Secret Admirers!

33 thoughts on “Secret Origins #11: Power Girl and Golden Age Hawkman

  1. Heroes trapped in amber… or reclining on a green screen bed.

    Let’s talk Power Girl (because I won’t have time for Hawkman until at least tomorrow)… I hate this new origin. I don’t care about Arion and never have*, and while yeah, it’s a clever way to link Atlantis and Krypton, because those stories are similar, it doesn’t really do anything for Power Girl. and her Kryptonian powers suite is awkward in a magical context. Plus, it led to the terrible “fantasy” costume she wore in late JLEurope issues.

    My history with the character dates back to JLI/JLE, really, though I knew her from before. But the joke there was that she was always angry, and not unlike the Ryan-Shagg feud, it’s a joke that tends to make you more uncomfortable than tickled over time. The Palmiotti-Connor series (even after they left) was, for me, the very best of Power Girl and made her a favorite almost overnight. I loved her humor, I loved how comfortable she was with herself, I like the zaniness, and I loved that she still had that mangy cat. Power Girl was one of the series I was most disappointed to see end when the New52 barged in like the Fun Police raiding a cool party and sending us all home to bed.

    *Except that wizened Garn Daanuth appearance in Justice League of America 217, which was my first issue of that comic, and one of the comics I reread most as a kid. But he could have been any old sorcerer villain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to agree with you Siskoid, the treatment of Power Girl in JLI/E was mostly unpleasant. She bounced around as an angry character for years because of that. I particularly hated everything to do with her pregnancy around Zero Hour.

      On a happier note, Anj was awesome for a podcasting novice. I can’t wait to hear him on future episodes, unless he’s the one who got the coveted Doom Patrol booking.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really hated this retcon of Power Girl. I was a long time fan of Earth-2. I first met Power Girl in All-Star Comics, in issue 57. I wasn’t too fond of her until Paul Levitz took over the writing; and, especially after Joe Staton became the artist. They had softened her personality a bit and Staton gave her less sharp features and was less gratuitous with her figure (and the boob window had been outlawed). I enjoyed how she was used, along with Huntress, at the tail end of that series and in the Adventure Comics stories that wrapped up the storylines. After that, she was rather neglected, including in Infinity, Inc. Crisis did a real whammy on the JSA legacy, for a while. It killed off Huntress (to be replaced by a less interesting version) and left Power Girl without a past, and not much personality.

    Tying her to Arion made no sense, except to keep the Arion trademarks going. Other than that, it accomplished nothing. Ang’s idea of tying her to Mon-El and Daxam would have been far more interesting and could have helped iron out the Legion problems. Quite frankly, I kind of feel that DC should have just started everything from square one, to avoid the problems they had for most of the next ten years. I would have preferred that they just left the two parallel worlds (and Captain Marvel in his own universe); but, that wasn’t going to happen. Rebooting everything just makes more sense.

    The Golden Age Hawkman was always the more interesting of the two. The connection to ancient Egypt and reincarnation gave it an interesting hook, which has inspired some great stories, especially from people like James Robinson and Geoff Johns. I wish this would have taken the opportunity to make the Prince Khufu character not blond and European, since he is reincarnated, not immortal. It’s rather jarring to see a blond guy calling more accurate Egyptians/Nubians outsiders and foreigners. Other than that, I’ve always enjoyed the origin story and the use of Dr. Hastor, especially in All-Star Squadron.

    Anubis was the guardian of the underworld (and lord of embalming); but, Osiris was Lord of the underworld, though replacing Anubis in that role. Anubis morphed a bit through ancient Egypt. Kind of surprising that they didn’t play up Horus, since he was the hawk god (well, falcon) and a fairly heroic figure, in Egyptian mythology.

    It’s ridiculously obvious that Flash Gordon is the inspiration for the character. the hawkmen of the strip carried spears and swords, as the was a great medieval feel to the series (especially early issue), along with the rockets. They pretty much transplanted it, whole cloth, then cobbled together a reason for the ancient weapons, in a modern setting.

    I’m not overly keen on Luke McDonnell’s art, here. It just doesn’t have the flair of Sheldon Moldoff (in his Alex Raymond mode), or Joe Kubert, or Jerry Ordway. Looking at a lot of the recent issues of SO, it becomes obvious that this was considered a lower tier art assignment, at DC. Once in a while, we had a great fit; this didn’t seem like one of those times. I liked McDonnell on something a little grittier and more realistic, like Suicide Squad, and The Phantom (the regular series, while it was at DC).

    Re: Hawkman artists-Steve Lieber didn’t outdo Kubert; but, he did a fantastic Hawkman.

    Adam Kubert drew very much like Joe, in his early days. He did Jezebel Jade (a Jonny Quest mini-series), for Comico and it looks very much like Joe. Andy was always a bit different.

    Hated Judas Contract? I say “Bah!” to you, sir! Okay, to be fair, you really do need to read the earlier Titans issues to see how the story progresses to that point. I loved New Teen Titans and was there with the first issue. That first issue was awesome; but, the second, with Terminator (he will always be Terminator, more than Deathstroke, to me) was even better. Every time he reappeared the series grew. That storyline was, really, the climax of those 4 years. I go back to the original Titans series (well, when it was revived, after being cancelled for a few years; but, before Wolfman & Perez).

    I agree that Hawkworld would make a great movie or series and should be dark. Superman doesn’t work as dark and gritty, for me, and I just felt it was a bad film, even leaving the dark stuff aside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ps. Man, I have to listen to that Kelly Clarkson song at least twice a day, at work. Is there no escaping it?


  3. A couple quick thoughts about Power Girl/Hawkman.

    1) Great job on your debut Anj. I look forward to hearing your comments on future episodes. I bet it’s Nightshade. Miss America? G’nort?

    2) The change to Power Girl’s origin never made any sense to me. I get the desire from DC editorial to remove anything remotely Earth-2 and Kryptonian from her backstory; however, I’m not seeing how Arion was any improvement. A quick check to Mike’s Amazing World and I discover there was about a 15 month gap between Arion’s last appearance and this issue of Secret Origins. Not sure if Kupperberg hoped for a post-Crisis resurgence in Arion. Power Girl is probably a character who could have benefited from having her origin shrouded in mystery. Is she another Kryptonian? Is she a Daxamite? Is she a New God? All better than Arion’s granddaughter.

    3) “The story unfolding in the pages of Infinity Inc.” I had forgotten how many times Roy would try to get Secret Origins readers to follow his other titles. Other than the upcoming Suicide Squad issue and the various event tie-ins (Legends and Millenium), did any other writer use Secret Origins to promote an ongoing title?


    1. Well, it was used as a tie-in, certainly, especially with the Justice League titles and related characters. It also kind of became the place for continuity fixes, like the revised Justice League origin. So, yeah, it was used to promote other DC titles, though I wouldn’t necessarily say it was tied directly into their storylines, other than things like the Millennium tie-ins.


  4. Talking Hawkman…

    First of all, the sentence “I always think of Sutehk from…” should always end with “Doctor Who”.

    Now… I’m a Hawkman and Hawkwoman fan, certainly. My preferred version is Joe Kubert’s sexy Silver Age couple. Not much interest through the bronze age, but he IS one of my relatively few Super-Powers action figures, and I did enjoy his appearances in All-Star Squadron (famously, Roy Thomas wanted him to be in every issue because he’d never missed an issue of All-Star Comics’ JSA issues; they screwed up once and had to publish the fixed panel in a later issue no matter what he claims in the letters page here). I liked the Hawkworld continuing series, and though the colors were terrible, the writing was pretty great (Ostrander was a favorite of the era). Then Zero Hour turned him into the Hawk avatar or whatever, and though I tried, I really did, it just never really worked. I feel like Hawkman has been trapped in some kind of reincarnation tragedy ever since. I stopped reading comics in the 2000s, so I missed the Geoff Johns series, and his JSA appearances, and the Hawkgirl series. Did try the New52 Savage Hawkman series, but it wasn’t very good. Best Hawkman of recent years: Wednesday Comics’ strip.

    But I still have a lot of good will stored up for the character and concept. Not so the Outsiders NOR the Titans, for that matter (except when the latter goes to a place of maximum quirkiness like in the Haney original and the original cartoon show). But Ryan is absolutely correct: Characters can go from nothing to awesome in the space of a single comic; it all depends on how they’re written. To use Ostrander as an example, I don’t think the Suicide Squad characters were considered good characters until he wrote them, and now guys like Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, etc. are considered fan favorites and set to star in a movie! The reverse is much harder to achieve. If a character has been good, then we’ll remember that and blame the current vision rather than the character itself. Not to say Hawkman’s had TERRIBLE iterations, but he’s had his share of failures. I usually put him in the same category as Aquaman, character who don’t often get the respect they deserve, and have had as many shining successes as they have dull failures.


    1. The Johns Hawkman series was pretty fantastic. It’s my favorite version of the character, tied with most anything Kubert did. I think it’s one of the best runs Johns has ever done at DC, which is saying something. I know he’s not as well liked now, but he was on a roll for a while back then and his Hawkman work stands as one of the best examples of his character rehab projects. He really did a fine job of connecting the various threads of the Hawks’ mythos from previous decades. Of course DC blew it all out of the water with the New 52 reboot. And Rags Morales also provided some of the best pencil work of his amazing career on the Johns run, which made for a dynamic looking book as well. The art is just gorgeous and reminds me very much of early 1980s Don Newton-Alfredo Alcala Batman work, with the great use of shadows and beautiful detail in both the figure work and the backgrounds. I highly recommend that run. It goes off the rails a bit after Johns left the book (after issue 25, I believe), but it’s still quite entertaining even after he leaves. And this run made me a big fan of Kendra Saunders too. She’s as much a star of the book as Carter Hall is.

      I’m still listening to this episode, so I’ll try to comment more later. I’m a week behind on your show and I just finished the Power Girl half of the podcast. I’m excited to hear your discussion of Hawkman next.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Listener feedback and Ryan’s monologues…

    Stop sending me perfumed envelopes, Ryan. I told you, I’m not into it. (That joke would make more sense if I hadn’t launched a Romance Comics podcast this very day.) (This is not an ad for it, in fact, I won’t even put up a link.)


  6. Strange that two of DC’s biggest continuity train wrecks shared this issue of Secret Origins. I’m sure no one at DC knew this at the time, but for Power Girl, the agony starts here.
    I like the cover. I do agree the logos cramp things a bit, and it’s not overly dynamic, but man, just look at that cityscape!

    I like Paul Kupperberg’s work, but this solution for Power Girl never seemed to work for anyone. I honestly thing PG should have went into the Ragnorak cycle with the JSA. Have her punch Star Spangled Kid out of the way and just jump into the fray, taking her missing cousin’s place. Her post-Crisis appearances before John’s JSA series are better left forgotten, as she was downright…well…bitchy in JLE. She came on strong in her early appearances in the 70s All-Star revival, but she had a lot to prove, and a chip on her shoulder. Conway and Levitz grew her beyond that phase in her development. Other people didn’t seem to get it. Oh, and I’ll admit…I liked the boob window. Estrada and more likely embellisher Wally Wood gave PG a figure like no other comic heroine. Yes, Wood eventually drew her boobs to insane dimensions just for fun, but her suit and body type were just part of her character, like Kirby’s Big Barda in a way. When they slowly did away with that, they gutted the character somewhat, me thinks. I was glad to see it brought back around Infinite Crisis.

    Oh, and Zor-L and Allura, and the symbio-ship were depicted in the Levitz/Staton Power Girl tryout in Showcase around the same time All-Star was running, which was the first telling of her origin. I believe these stories were collected with the Johns/Conner JSA Classified story at one point?

    Anj did a fantastic job in this segment. If you told me you’d been podcasting for years, I’d have believed it!

    Hawkman has one of the best visuals in comics, hands down. It just works. It’s a damn shame no one can seem to iron out all the wrinkles of his backstory to create a completely satisfying character to go with it. I agree with Luke…it’s best to just enjoy each story on it’s own, and forget how it all fits in. It doesn’t. There’s no way it can. Some higher ups at DC should have noticed the two Carter Halls existing on one Post-Crisis Earth would cause some issues, even before Hawkworld did it’s unfortunate retconning. I bet Roy noticed…but he wasn’t going to throw his beloved Hakwman under the bus. And who can blame him.

    I like the Golden Age Hawkman, and his very Mummy-influenced origin. But like Luke, I miss the Silver Age version. I can’t believe no one at DC has attempted to go back to THAT version of Katar Hol, space cop. Having said that, the Johns/Goyer revival in JSA and then the Johns/Morales Hawkman run were very exciting at the time, and still hold up as good comics. I also liked what JLU did with the characters, blending the Thanagarian and ancient Egyptian versions even further. And of course, Johns wrote that script!

    I have that Gentleman Ghost/Hawkgirl two-pack as well. What a great figure! I love ol’ Jim Craddock, due mostly to that one-off Super Friends appearance, and Len Wein’s use of him in Batman tales of the late 70s/early 80s.

    Back to this issue, I was never a big fan of Luke McDonnel, but I really liked the melding of him and DeZuniga. The result is kind of surprising, because it’s a very smooth style, and I don’t normally associate that with either artist on their own.

    Oh, and I can’t remember which artist was working on it, but Thomas wrote an origin for Hawkgirl slated for this series that was never published. There is a scan of one of the pages in All-Star Companion, vol. 4, I believe.

    Ryan, you’ve got a lot to be proud of with Secret Origins. It seemed to come into being fully formed, and perfectly conceived. Every week, I’m excited to hear who you’ve got lined up for the next issue, and you’ve got a natural way with talking to all your guests. Fantastic work!



  7. Great episode! Anj is a natural, and since Hawkman has always been a favorite of mine this made for a good combo. As to cover, I dunno, I liked it, it has a nice gentle “riding on air currents” kinda vibe. And since it was drawn by Jerry Ordway, it’s just so beautiful to look at.

    Not to belabor this point, but in the feedback for ep 10 I wasn’t criticizing YOU for not using “Man in the Long Black Coat”, I was criticizing MYSELF for not sending it to you. Just so we’re clear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, not to belabor THIS point but in your feedback section of the last Film & Water Podcast I was joking about my suggestion you do an episode about ALIENS or THE HIGHLANDER because you had that same conversation with Mike Gillis in episode 122 before you started Film & Water.

      So there! Now there’s unintended tension on both ends!


  8. Thanks for all the kind words folks! I had a blast doing this!
    Greg, the idea of a true ‘unknown origin’ for Power Girl would have been interesting. Certainly that worked for Wolverine and others!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Anj, Luke, and Bryan!

    Great coverage this episode! And welcome to the podcasting community Anj! I have enjoyed your comments and blog posts all these years, so it was wonderful to hear you branch out into podcasting. You did an excellent job on your first outting; nice coverage and engaging commentary. Sorry it had to be with Bryan, but then again many folks end up regretting “their first time”. As usual, Luke brought the manliness to Bryan’s whiny girliness.

    This Power Girl origin is completely whack. In the pre-Crisis vs Post-Crisis debate, I’m definitely a post-Crisis guy with a love for the legacies. Ironically, Power Girl and Hawkman are really the two best examples of pre-Crisis square pegs in post-Crisis shaped holes. Power Girl never really worked until that Johns/Conner mini-series where they said she was a hold out from pre-Crisis. Interestingly, that works well with the legacy mentality of the post-Crisis. I still wish they hadn’t brought back the multiverse. Just acknowledging that it used to exist was enough for me.

    As Luke indicated, Carter Hall really shined in the Johns JSA and his own book. Also, the Hawkworld series was a very engaging read. It’s a real shame so much time and energy was wasted trying to explain and fix continuity. Would have served the stories better to have just got on with adventures (as Luke suggested, just have fun with the character). Oh yeah, and they totally needed to kill Byth in those first few issues of the Hawkworld ongoing. That storyline went on way too long.

    As much as it pains me to agree with Lil’ Chad Bokelman, the Secret Origins Podcast came out of the gate swinging and continues to maintain that same high quality! You do a great job producing and your interaction with the guests is outstanding. The tangential discussions about the characters, rotating cast of guests, and personal history flesh out the issues and make for engaging podcasting. A love letter to the podcasting community is a great descriptor of this show! I feel honored to have been a part of episode four, and look forward to each new episode. Normally I binge-listen to podcasts to catch up. When this show comes out, I drop whatever I’m listening to and play it immediately. Keep up the spectacular work.

    Good thing you have great guests, Bryan. They really save the show. Oh, and I guess “your welcome” is in order since we’re loaning you our WHO’S WHO audience. Finally, after your final episode good luck spending years on countless failed projects struggling to recapture this lightning in a bottle. You’ll be the podcasting equivalent of a small-town-high-school-football-star turned used car salesman still banking on that popularity into his middle age.

    Looking forward to each episode!

    PS: Power Girl is totally hot! Needed to add that so you didn’t think someone had hijacked my account.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So true, Jeff. I’m finally reading that series now (I skipped it at the time for some unknown reason now). I’m enjoying some of Sears’ art in the run but his Power Girl is distractingly off model. Her personality in the book seems quite off model too. We’ll see, I’m still only a few issues in to the run, but so far she isn’t what I was expecting.


  10. That last paragraph lost a qualifier in the HTML code. Should have read…

    (/compliments before someone starts to think we actually get along) Good thing you have great guests, Bryan. They really save …

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Also, visually my favorite Hawkman was the post Zero Hour with the long hair, feathered wings, black pants, tassels, and all. He looked totally bad ass. The Geoff Johns JSA Carter Hall is my favorite version in practice and character.

    My favorite Hawkwoman was the Hawkworld version, Shayera Thal. She was tough, sexy, and a total boss. She should have been part of the JLA, without Katar. She was that cool. Kendra is probably my second favorite incarnation.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As for characters aware of the Crisis, that is something I would like expanded upon, does anyone know what characters all were aware the Crisis has happened? Having done a recent reread of Detective Comics #570 thru #612, it is apparent that Batman is certainly aware of the Crisis, for a stretch there after issue #600 he references the Crisis almost every single issue, especially how Sandman (II) Matt Hagen perished in it. Sandman I is then aware of the Crisis and Hagen’s death in it as well. It’s very odd. Anyone out there in listener land have any idea what other characters are aware of it. You have to admit, it is kinda of funny that Batman is aware of this totally secret event that no one else does, but it doesn’t remember certain events that took place on the JLA Satellite involving a certain Dr. Light 😛

    Great coverage of this issue. As Chris already pointed out, it is funny that these characters are arguably the worst victims of the Crisis as far as a convulated train-wreck backstory goes, and they’re both in the same book. Unfortunate coincidence or fantastic foresight by DC? Anj, great to finally hear your voice man! Great stuff in your Podcast Debut!

    With regards to getting your hands on the Golden Age Hawkman Origin story from Flash Comics, at the time this Secret Origins issue went on sale, it had only been reprinted twice, the first being the Famous First Edition F-8 Treasury reprint of Flash Comics #1 from 1975 and the Secret Origins TPB that was released in 1976 (which also featured the Silver Age Hawkman Origin Story from Brave and Bold #34, among many other popular heroes’ Golden and Silver Age origins).

    Fantastic episode as well, great work Anj, Luke, and Ryan.


    1. Kyle, everyone remembers A Crisis…but at one point, most DC heroes were supposed to remember THE Crisis, as in the multiverse that existed before. Everyone who was at the Dawn of Time to witness the Spectre’s battle with the Anti-Monitor were said to remember their previous continuity…at first. When everyone woke up from the battle in Crisis #10, the heroes all remembered everything, but soon discovered they were on a collapsed Earth, and folks like Joan Garrick no long remembered HER Superman from Earth-Two.

      Then things get foggy. Sometime, shortly after Crisis, some folks at DC decided (probably rightly so) that everyone should forget the previous multiverse, or even more madness would ensue. If John Byrne’s Superman remembered Kara and Krypto, and working for WGBS, etc, it would have been pretty weird, and undercut the “new beginnings” DC was rolling out.

      When Basil Karlo (Clayface 1) remembers Hagen dying in Crisis, it’s the post-Crisis version that has the Anti-Monitor attacking the universe…but not the multiverse. I know. Confusing as hell, right?

      Of course, some characters, like the Psycho-Pirate DID remember events AS they were published. But they were soon few and far between.


      Liked by 1 person

  13. Since my early DC collecting gravitated toward Super Friends-types and Titans, I’m not sure I saw Power Girl before house ads for her late ’80s mini-series. I loved Kerry Gammill’s art, so that dynamic first issue cover piqued my interest. Even still, I don’t remember when I read an actual story with the character. At some point I learned about her ties to Superman and Earth-2, which both confused and disappointed me. She was a spare alternate dimension version of the late, great Supergirl? I mean alternate alternate, since sometime around then another alternate dimension version of Supergirl had taken up the mantle. What? Why? I’d already drifted away from reading Byrne Superman, and the Matrix did not make me want to come back. Oh, and I did eventually have a copy of Power Girl #1 pass through my hands, and the interiors looked nowhere near as good as the cover, and the story was by Paul Kupperberg, a name derived from the Dutch “Boring Town.”

    I likely next encountered Power Girl through Justice League Europe, a book I abandoned after the first issue and only revisited during crossovers when it was being published. I still thought Power Girl looked cool and carried herself with a swaggering strength. At least until they reduced her powers and gave her that awful overcompensating new costume that covered every inch of skin from the chin down in yellow and white stripes. I mean, a turtleneck on a onesie? Coupled with her being defined seemingly sole by surliness? Somehow though, they managed to make it worse in my later brushes with the character, like the Atlantean baggage and the addiction to diet soda causing violent mood swings and the stupid cat and the magical pregnancy complete with insta-adult offspring. It’s like they were going down a checklist of every horrible Bronze Age Heroine Melodrama cliche. I’ve read a bunch of Power Girl comics since, from reprints of her ’70s appearances to team books to her stint in JSA Classified and even a few issues of her solo series. None of it ever spoke to me, but I still have a dogged interest in her concept and basic appearance.

    After the Crisis, what we really needed to see was an entirely new, ground zero Secret Origin unrelated to Superman or any other preexisting characters (especially male ones.) It would have been nice if DC had one of their female writers on it as well, like…. Um…. Uh…. Dann Thomas? I think Barbara Kesel was breaking in around this time, and Mindy Newell was definitely around for the Lois Lane and Catwoman mini-series, plus they could have reached out to the indies for Colleen Doran, Wendy Pini, Judith Hunt or Kim Yale, never mind headhunting from Marvel (who between Louise Simonson, Ann Nocenti, Jo Duffy and Christie Marx were already comparatively way out in front in this area.) That’s where they got Mary Wilshire, who is best known for her work on the mid ’80s Red Sonja series and Firestar’s first mini. Maybe then Power Girl would have a whole identity to herself and a valuable IP, instead of going back to being the Bette Kane of Kryptonians.

    I leapt at the Atlantean origin unreservedly, because it distanced Power Girl from Superman considerably, enhanced Aquaman’s circles without making her dependent, and because a world class full-spectrum-powered physical hero that is magic/fantasy based is pretty darn rare. I even bought way-past-its-prime issues of Warlord and that terrible Arion mini-series just to keep tabs on that aspect of the character. However, the actual origin itself is dumb as a bag of hammers. Kupperberg made a spectacularly impure, totally adulterated muddle of Power Girl’s already stupid-without-the-excuse of being an innocent ’50s original backstory. Supergirl making her earthly debut as a participant in period Superman stories requires the suspension of belief that she arrives as a full blown teenager in an appropriately branded costume. Why on Earth-2 couldn’t Power Girl have landed as an infant exactly as Clark did, just later? She could have been raised by a Ma & Pa Kent that weren’t offed in Superboy stories, or Clark & Lois could have raised her as the daughter they never had, or even come up very differently as adopted by the affluent Starr family. Her new origin could have been one twist after another on Superman’s overly familiar narrative, breaking loose from a malevolent family that sought to exploit her, or raised as a captive in a government facility like Galatea, or an interplanetary traveler who only finds Kal-L on Earth after years of searching. Nope, she’s going to be nonsensically enslaved to the Arion narrative, a sorry Moorcock lift who only supported his lousy series on the back of Jan Duuresema’s art during a high point in fantasy comic salability. Let’s have Arion’s over/under-explained backstory take up the vast majority of space allotted to Power Girl’s origin while devaluing her by merely replacing the role played by Superman with this chump. And since it’s Kupperberg, let’s see if the reader can fight sleep in the middle of the day to make it through this exposition heavy yet ephemeral snore rest.

    Looking at Power Girl’s career from this point forward into the aughts, I wonder if her exclusively male writers actively hated her, or if that accumulating ball of misogyny was a subconscious manifestation of punishing paternal thinking. She was literally backhanded one time by a giant old white man and left in a near death state that required her being saved by the Superman that rejected her presumed familiarity and left her a shadow of her former self. She was a man-hater who angrily rejected all advances until it was revealed her entire personality came out of a soda can. Then she became low rent Rogue riffing dumb muscle in a second rate Justice League used as a disposable love interest to Aquaman and Green Lantern before getting knocked-up by magic and having her sole reason to exist for years being the birth and raising of One-Minute Messiah, because the Marcus story arc in the Avengers was so well received over a decade prior. No wonder Geoff Johns explained that her “boob window” was actually symbolic of her lack of a chest symbol/family crest/identity, although a logical and unsavory progression from that metaphor was to see it as a hole waiting to be filled. In the case of this Secret Origin, by a writer perfectly willing to dump a load of Arion into Power Girl to get off on using this irrelevant heroine as a vessel to birth stories he wanted to tell about his male hero. It’s sickening.


  14. Good grief that Power Girl origin sounds extremely confusing. And what do you all think of Kupperberg shoehorning Power Girl into his Arion mythology? It seems inappropriate to me now, but I wonder if that’s simply because Arion has mostly disappeared from DC’s line since those days. So now we all look at this and think “WTF?” Also, Anj and Ryan, you both raised so many great questions about this origin that it’s hard not to look at it as a lacking origin story. It seems half-baked.

    The Mary Wilshire art you’ve shared here is awesome! She draws a wonderful Power Girl. That profile image of her up above (from page 6) is especially beautiful. I agree with Anj too, she draws hair very well here.

    I love the Ordway cover. Ordway is one of several artist from my youth that I didn’t appreciate at the time – some others include Gil Kane and Carmine Infantino (both of whom were much older during my youth and definitely not of Ordway’s generation) – but in recent years, as I see more and more of their work online in sketches and old scans like this, along with in back issues I scoop up here and there, I have done a total 180 on these guys. Now I’m excited any time I see work from guys like Ordway. They simply scream “THIS IS HOW YOU DRAW SUPERHERO COMICS!” to me now. I enjoy the interesting angle of Power Girl’s and Hawkman’s flight on the cover. The shading on Hawkman’s wings makes them look almost shiny, and they really pop.

    I’ve been curious about the Palmiotti and Conner Power Girl and the recent World’s Finest Power Girl & Huntress series from the New 52. I keep seeing the first arc or two of that latter series bundled for dirt cheap at my LCS and I wonder if I should check it out. I mean, George Perez AND Kevin Maguire?!? I have no idea how I missed that solicit when this series started. They’re two of my all-time favorite artists. But from what Anj and Ryan say here, it doesn’t seem like it’s worth it. Would you say it’s worth it for the art alone, at least? Or does it start stronger and then fizzle later?

    The Hawkman Super Powers figure was my favorite of all of them, and I had several. It’s my biggest toy purging regret, letting go of my Super Powers and Secret Wars collections right after I graduated college. And the Hawkman figure is the one I miss the most.

    And I’ve always loved Hawkman and Hawkgirl/woman as characters. I don’t love every interpretation of them, but they hold very special places in this fan’s heart and I wish they’d get more love from other creators, especially in recent years. They seem to have been swept aside of late and that’s sad.

    Luke, I agree 100% on loving Johns tying the Hawks together throughout history. It really provided a strong link to past Hawkman and Hawkgirl stories specifically and other past DC stories more generally.

    Ryan, you blew my mind on the Power Girl-Hawkman relationship. That would so work! And Luke, I almost spit out my coffee when you mentioned not wanting to live downstairs from them. That would be loud, indeed. Hell, they might just fall through the ceiling and kill you if things got too rough up there.

    Great job from all involved, and special kudos to Anj for a wonderful podcast debut. You have a great voice for podcasting – very chill and you clearly have a wealth of knowledge to share. And I recently discovered your Supergirl blog and I’m loving it!


  15. Jerry Ordway’s cover for this issue was among the best of the series, even if it does look like the heroes are bring forced to evade their own logos and the background was almost certainly a photograph buried in Zip-A-Tone. For starters, I miss the hell out of tone screens, the figures really fill up the image space, and Kara looks so lovely and happy in her classic incarnation. ExtraOrdinary!

    For me, Hawkman is another of the “primordial” super-heroes who’ve always been around in my life experience. Whether it was the ’60s Filmation cartoons, Super Friends, Brave & the Bold or house ads, I was already familiar with Hawkman by the time his Super Powers figure came out. There was even some sort of carrying case at a toy store that summarized his Silver Age origin. Like many, I thought Hawkman looked cool, but between poor distribution of Pre-Crisis Hawk books and the heft of continuity & price that came with Hawkworld in the late ’80s, I had to admire him from afar. I definitely recall buying the gold foil Hawkman #1 and not liking it enough to continue, at least partially from its clearly taking place in the middle of a story begun in the previous volume. Somebody decided in the 1990s that they didn’t need to carefully orient new readers at entry points like a debut issue, and I feel we’re still paying the price for that. I did finally start collecting that series during the “Hawkgod” arc just ahead of Zero Hour, and stayed with that volume until its end. I also went back to buy up a fair few Bronze Age comics, a full collection of Hawkworld, and read some early Silver Age material. I also picked up the Robinson/Johns/Morales series for a bit.

    The ultimate result of accumulating all those comics was to come away finding Hawkman just okay. I’d always expected that between the visuals and the weaponry that Hawkman would be a more visceral character along the lines of a Wolverine. Instead, he was a taciturn detective who used his weapons sparingly in stories that tended toward modest Code Approved super-heroics and some politically tinged sci-fi. Despite his conservative rageholic reputation from Justice League books, he was mostly mild-mannered with a bit of judgmental posturing, nowhere near as fun as a Guy Gardner type. I’m more politically inclined toward Green Arrow, but I grew to hate that character for his big mouth and lousy treatment of Black Canary. Hawkman treated his wife with all the respect she was due, and when he did make some noise, it usually lent a welcome conflict to the story. However, Hawkman lacked personality, and often blundered from his hotheadedness, so I actually prefer Hawkgirl/woman in most stories.

    One of the bright spots in my reading was The Shadow War of Hawkman, and Alfredo Alcala’s inks were hugely important for my enjoyment. Richard Howell is an artist on my least fond list, and I want to say someone like Don Heck inked him on the ongoing, and that was a hate crime against my eyeballs. As much as I liked Luke McDonnell on Justice League of America, I think he was meant to draw that Hawkman series for the betterment of the DC Universe. He totally gets the long, lean, laid back posture of Kubert, and he can draw that ridiculous helmet not only credibly, but with dramatic gravitas. Look at the second panel on page 15, where a man wearing a fake beak about the size of the top third of a traffic cone looks like he’s about to wreck a joint. I also love page 17, filled with eight claustrophobic panels that Hawkman flies free of with the vaguely rendered but entirely effective wings and sweet gear. The action is grounded so that I believe that crossbow coming to a gunfight was the real deal, and how about those two silent panels on page 21 where Carter flies Shiera across the moon. The final half-splash recalls Ordway, and is a simple but appealing bit of design. Of course, Roy Thomas ruins the moment shilling for All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc in the last two shameless captions, but this was still the best of his origin retellings covered thus far. I enjoyed the romanticism of the subjects, though a few more continuity patches would have been helpful (explaining why Khufu led the villains right to Shiera’s hiding place, or beefing up her excessively passive role.) Also, don’t take up the first page worth of captions telling us the villains are Asians invading Egypt if you’re going to render them as Africans and the natives as Caucasians. Use a little literary license and say Carter dreamt himself as blond in ancient times, but that he knew that couldn’t be factually correct.

    Not only is the golden age origin the best for Hawkman as a concept and for my personal enjoyment, but it’s a necessary default for including all Hawk lore. An immortal hero reincarnated across time and space is a simple and cool concept to convey. The actual mechanics of those two spirits landing on Thanagar for a generation are headache inducing, but I just wrote the only required information at the front of this sentence. I’m not sorry that the Kubert boys were unavailable either. Just as the legends tend to forget that John Buscema built on the sales of Conan after Barry Smith left, Hawkman actually sold better when Murphy Anderson took over from Joe Kubert. The association with Katar Hol is too engrained in Kubert’s look, and I think Carter Hall deserved to have a different flavor for his story. Also, I’ve just never warmed to Adam & Andy, surely in part because they were the biggest artists at Marvel in the years where I harbor the most hatred for that company.

    The once heralded, now mostly abandoned Baxter paper stock deserves reconsideration. I recognize the increased range in coloring and printing techniques that come with glossy stock, but it still renders the pages plastic looking and older reprints have to be recolored to avoid gaudiness. Baxter was white and bright enough to make reprints shine and served quality reproduction of contemporary material, so if was more versatile and didn’t make everything look like it was spit out of a computer. Also, the pages were much sturdier and resistant to moisture while still weighing less than glossy stock, which you can’t even breath near without it wilting and tearing.

    Here’s the single most important criteria for the canonization of “The Judas Contract” and “The Great Darkness Saga”: DC Comics sucked so hard in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Marvel wasn’t at its best in those years either, but had so thoroughly gutted and rendered laughable DC output by that point that desperation lent credibility to these two decent stories that merely rose well above most anything else coming out of DC at the time. Titans wasn’t that great a book in its first year, and only improved somewhat in the second, but because it was good enough to be mentioned in the same breath of Marvel team books DC fans clutched it to their breast. By my reckoning, aside from Deathstroke appearances, Titans didn’t really start building traction until the Brother Blood arc and really hit its stride in the 30s as Perez finally asserted his dominance over or broke free from the tyranny of Romeo Tanghal’s inks. You had that great annual with the Vigilante and the steady build of the Terra arc before it finally culminated in the first chapter of “Judas” with the Ten Little Indians takedown of the team. Unfortunately, that left us to meander for another three issues from Dick’s escape to the origin of Deathstroke and the introduction of Jericho before the final battle, which is only memorable for Terra’s breakdown and Slade Wilson’s remorse. “Dark Phoenix” holds up better because it was both of its creators at the prime of their powers telling an epic story full of excellent introductions to new characters and concepts before culminating in a grand tragedy involving a heroine with decades of history. Meanwhile, “Judas Contract” was four issues that required support by lots of issues of varying degrees of quality on the front and back of it that was clearly trying to imitate “Dark Phoenix” with a pseudo-heroine introduced a little over a year earlier specifically for that purpose. I can’t name anything created in a Titans title between Terra’s introduction and her death off the top of my head. Those analogues for the DNAgents and a new version of the Fearsome Five came afterwards, right?

    I usually don’t critique the voice talent, but it was great to finally hear one of my best internet buddies Anj, and Luke has the butchest throat in our family of podcasters, so I particularly enjoyed listening to this episode!


  16. Having just listened to this today I remembered that in an issue of JSA Powergirl travels to Gemworld to release the spirit of Arion, who tells her he’s not really her grandfather and that she’s not from Atlantis. I believe it was during Geoff Johns run of JSA where her Atlantis origin is retconned.


  17. Re: Power Girl’s Boob Window

    I look at it this way: If Giada De Laurentiis can rock a boob window every other week on Food Network, Power Girl shouldn’t get so much shit about it all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Well, I’m late to the game with this one, busy week, sorry! Good to hear Anj, he did a great job. I haven’t listened to the back half of the show yet, let’s get some Peege thoughts out there.,,

    I also love the cover, nighttime city scales and rare and welcome, and the figurework here is excellent. I don’t think the cover is all that crowded.

    I was a fan of the Arion series, which had artwork by Jan Duursema for pretty much the whole run – you may need to buy more than four issues, Anj. Kupperberg didn’t write every issue, Ryan, Doug Moench did a couple. I do hate this new origin for Karen, though – as Anj says, just go Daxamite and you get the beginnings of a Legion legacy, Peege could eventually become Andromeda’s great-etc-grandma. Instead, we have this mess which, as you guys said, should’ve elicited more of a reaction from Power Girl than, oh, now I have a dead family (I suppose Arion had put a spell on her for that, too). She should have been raging. And given her grandmother was the non-Caucasian Lady Chian, she really shouldn’t look quite so Nordic.

    Hey, she and Dinah Lance could have formed a support group, Superheroines Who Want To Play With Lego Because They Never Had Childhoods…

    So there you go, a story that complicated Karen horribly, and made Arion at best, a meddling grandfather with bad decision-making, at worst, Anton Arcane. I didn’t like him again until Kupperberg and Ron Wilson’s early Nineties Arion the Immortal mini-series, a very different take on him, with wonderful covers by Randy DuBurke. Check it out at the GCD.

    As Frank said, Karen’s JLE moods were down to diet soda. It was all horrible, get the summary here.

    Sadly, you have to look at Bart Sear’s freakishly ugly version of Kara.

    And I see all the arguments against the boob window, and agree with most of them, but Peege just doesn’t look like herself without it. The scoop neck is a decent substitute, but it looks kinda careless.


  19. And that’s the last of the episode enjoyed, great job Luke and Ryan. I was always annoyed by Roy Thomas’s insistence on dumping Hawkman on his ASS issue after issue, it was the fetishising of a random piece of Golden Age trivia.

    My favourite Hawks are the Silver/Bronze Age duo, a smart, loving couple who solved crimes while looking majestic. Plus, predatory Mavis Trent. I bet she and Hyathis had a thing going. The Shadow War of Hawkman and series that followed were wonderful – and I liked Heck on Howell, I’ve a lot of time for the Tretchikoff eyes Heck gave his women.

    I liked the Hawkworld era a lot, but the wings were a ruddy disgrace. Instead of gorgeous wings that helped with page designs we got what looked like strap-on cardboard planks. The big visual identifier, gone .. what next, make Peege flat chested? Give Guy Gardner a decent haircut? Remove Archie’s cross-cross do? Oh, hang on…

    Hey, why no mention of Charley Parker? What is WRONG with you people?

    Luke saying Hawkman didn’t fit in visually with the other heroes of the Golden or Silver Ages had me scratching my head. Perhaps it’s because I first saw him in a group context, but to me he just looked like another fantastic superhero.

    ‘I guess electrocution doesn’t shock people the way stabbing does’ – ha ha Luke!

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  20. This was a good pairing. Both their origins give me a headache. I’ve loved Power Girl since I met her in the pages of JLI. I knew her backstory was a mess so I always kind of stayed away from it. I also never got into Hawkman for the same reason. Reading this story, he seems to have a simple enough backstory. It never should have been messed with.

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