A Tribute to the of

We haven’t visited the winged wonder, Hawkman in a while, so I checked out the series for an intriguing cover and think I found just the thing. Now, granted, you can never, ever go wrong with a Murphy Anderson cover, and seeing not one, but two winged combatants added to the appeal, although the Shrike surely had some trouble with that elongated beak on his headgear. And I’m also reminded that while I love this version of Hawkman, taking absolutely nothing away from Joe Kubert’s version, or Shelly Moldoff’s back in the day, it’s always bothered me just a bit that the eye holes are so far up on the mask that they couldn’t possibly align correctly in the real world. The Shrike’s get-up is quite similar.

The Shrike Strikes at Night!” (Say that three times fast…) was scripted by the ever-wonderful Gardner Fox with Murphy again providing interior art with the great Gaspar Saladino on lettering detail. Julius Shwartz is our editor for this 23-page adventure from Hawkman #11, with a publication date of December 1965/January 1966 and an on-sale date of October 14, 1965. Let’s see what’s cooking.

It all starts with a wonderfully dramatic splash page, showcasing the advanced abilities of the Shrike’s costume, with wings that emit forces to deter the winged wonders, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, resembling force rings of some sort and a miniature twister. Of further interest is the boots with talons and I like the touch with the Shrike seemingly grasping the “A” and “M” of the Hawkman logo.

The Shrike wastes no time in getting down to business on the next page, flying into a Monte Carlo casino on a moonlit night and taking a page from Batman’s playbook by crashing through a window in the ceiling while simultaneously using those weaponized wings to rain down ice chunks like a miniature hailstorm on the attendees. The Shrike’s thought balloon informs the reader that, “My wonder wings enable me to whip up almost any natural force I can conceive of…” He proceeds to collect cash and thinks that it’s “A small down payment on the debt the world owes my people!

His next caper, a few nights afterward, is the Bank of England. This time the wings deploy bolts of lightning to crack into the structure. We learn from his latest inner monologue that he is “…the legendary demon-bird of Kukulcan—come to life!

Time now to check in on our hero, Carter Hall, curator of the Midway City Museum and part-time superhero Hawkman. By now, word of the Shrike has spread and Carter ponders why his bird friends haven’t alerted him to this new creature with wings when he hears a crash as the pinioned pilferer (not bad, Gardner! You might have done well scripting the old Batman television series with that alliterative ability.) bursts into the museum to help himself to some valuable artifacts. His inevitable choice are a pair of sacred golden urns from Kukulcan. He tells Hall to stay away and that he is going to return them to their rightful home of his people, the Comocs.

Carter is having none of it, however, and gives the thief the bum’s rush, but not before the Shrike sends him flying with hurricane force winds from those mighty wings. Unfazed, our Thanagarian lawman bounces back and hits the Shrike with a mighty right cross.

The enraged Shrike tries to retaliate, but Hall then follows up with a judo hold and tosses the interloper onto a jaguar throne. Sidebar: In panel two of page 4 is a statement at the bottom that “The Spectre is coming!” I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those lines before.

Just as Carter is going in for the knockout punch, the Shrike calls the lethal wings into play again and blows jets of arctic air at our hero, stopping him in his tracks. While Hall tries to recover, the Shrike straps the urns to his costume and takes flight, crashing through another window. What? The first one you broke wasn’t more handy and easier on you?

He no sooner departs the museum than he comes face to face with Hawkgirl, who is returning from a mission, and is startled. “I was led to believe I was the only winged human on Earth!” Hawkgirl strikes with a slingshot and he counters with electrical bolts. “Those who defy the messenger of the god Kukulcan must be punished!

Inside the museum, Carter Hall has donned the garb of Hawkman and taken the additional precaution of arming himself with rubber gloves and a shield to counter the electrical charges of the flying felon.

Hawkman wings his way into the night sky, wielding a bolo and deflecting the charges now aimed his direction. The bolo finds its target and the trussed-up Shrike begins to plummet to the earth, his wings pinned to his body by the bolo. Hawkman first saves his sweetheart and then prevents the Shirke from striking terra firma. Back inside the museum, the winged wonders proceed to question the Shrike.

He proceeds to tell his origin, which looks just vaguely like that of Kal-El of Krypton. A small rocket ship had crashed by a stream in the Yucatan jungles and the small winged child within is found by Comoc Indians. They declare that he is a gift from the god Kukulcan, to whom they had prayed for help.

The Comoc people had long ago had their treasures looted by conquerors and they yearned to regain their place in the world. They see the winged boy as their potential salvation and craft a uniform for him inspired by their demon bird, the Shrike. He grew at an incredible rate and bought into the notion that he was a messenger of their god, Kukulcan. His abilities, particularly the wings that produced forces at his will, further convinced him that he was a divine messenger and deliverer for his people, and he laid plans to restore their wealth and stolen property.

He discovered he could speak all languages, further cementing his belief in his sacred and otherworldly calling. He was therefore particularly surprised to find he was not the only winged human being on the Earth. His faith is now shaken. He decides he isn’t what he thought and therefore is suffering an identity crisis. If he is not the messenger of Kukulcan, then who is he?

He pleads for help, vowing to return his stolen booty and the heroes are willing to provide that help, inviting him to their orbiting spaceship to use some of their Thanagarian technology, but he protests that he’s forgotten how to fly. Hawkman deduces that the realization that he is neither human nor divine has left a psychological trauma that is manifesting itself in a psychosomatic manner.

So, taking the Shrike by the hand, the winged wonders head for their ship, with no hint of breathing apparatuses for any of them. He reveals he was wearing a medallion when he was discovered by the Comoc’s and it might provide a clue to his origins. Hawkgirl notes the dots on the medallion and perceives that it represents a star pattern, likely from the Shrike’s world of origin. Hawkman utilizes the Star-puter, preparing a punch card (anyone remember those?) and placing it into the device. The Univac, er, Star-puter, spits out a coordinate for an earth-like planet of the star-sun Mizar. They set off immediately for that locale.

The hawks place the famed absorbascons on their heads to learn the language of the planet, but before they arrive, both Hawkgirl and the Shrike mysteriously disappear.

Part Two of our tale opens with the ship hovering over a world of ice and snow. Carter cannot understand how any creature could survive on this surface, or what has happened to Shayera and the Shrike, but in the following panels, we see a similar scene. Shayera cries out for Katar and is seemingly alone aboard the vessel and the Shrike is also isolated, but is so deep into his depressed state that he hasn’t even noticed. Katar looks to the skies and notes that the stars are incorrectly placed. He deduces that they could move to that new position in time, so he must be in the future, then corrects himself. He’s in the ship, but is somehow seeing into the future. Then, things return to normal. “I must have been affected by some sort of time-warp!” Hawkgirl then appears and had had a similar experience and once she realized what had happened, regained her place at her husband’s side. Shayera suggests that, “Some mysterious force must have refracted light-waves around us, so that we appeared to be shifted into the future!” Hawkman agrees that it was much like a mirage, an illusion, that disappeared once they were conscious of it. The Shrike, however, is still deep in his funk and is unable to reunite with his fellow passengers.

Just then, an attack on the ship by a group of winged men, confirming that they’re in the right place. That planet, named Moronon, is ruled by a despot named Boros Bron who orders a full-scale attack on the Thanagarian ship. Grabbing advanced weaponry from the onboard arsenal, the hawks go on the offensive with Paraly-rifles and handguns, going for lightning quick strikes.

Among other things, the rifles can be adjusted to fire an inky, black-out substance, causing some of the attackers to pop into another plane of existence. The teamwork of the hawks is enough to stall the attack handily and they return to their ship.

Before they can board, however, Boros Bron orders a land-based weapon to be deployed called, I kid you not, the vibrator, which proceeds to issue ring-like portions of energy that envelop and snare our heroes. They are then easily captured and taken before the court of Boros Bron, who accuses them of starting an invasion. Hawkman sets him straight, that they’d found one of their countrymen and were returning him to their world. He says there is no sign of anyone else aboard the ship and condemns them to the valley of a thousand perils.

Once they are dropped into a mist-shrouded valley, the pair are buffeted about by high winds until they fall, unconscious, to the ground where they are soon observed by a large dinosaur-like creature, concluding Part Two.

Part Three opens with Hawkgirl regaining consciousness and going on the offensive, screaming for her husband to awaken. He does, just in time to use his anti-gravity belt to fly up and strike the beast before it can harm Shayera. Soon, a plethora of prehistoric creatures converge on the scene and the winged wonders have to use strategy to deal with them. Hawkman grasps the back of the first lizard, uses his belt and wings to raise it up and then drops it onto some of the others, causing them to attack each other.

As they fly to safety, they discover a strange glowing ball that is the source of the time-warping energy that had affected them earlier. Hawkman determines that this time-ball will allow them to escape by using its properties to imagine themselves into the far future, where no mountainous terrain exists and no hurricane winds to batter them into unconsciousness.

They return to the present and see their ship and use the time-ball once again to slip past the guards under a cloak of invisibility. Inside, they use the ball again, its shafts flashing about the craft until they can see the Shrike. They call to him and persuade him to concentrate and leave the future and soon he is reunited with them.

Then, they go on the offensive, using the time-ball to help them. The Shrike is the first to leave the ship and Boros Bron orders his soldiers to kill him while thinking that he knows who the Shrike really is. The hawks then appear and start knocking out the soldiers, using the ball’s properties to pop in and out of sight.

The battle seems to go their way until Boros Bron orders them to use the energy rings, paralyzing Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The Shrike realizes what he must do and managed to overcome his psychosomatic stresses and regains full use of his powers, utilizing the electrical charges in his wings to burst the energy rings on the winged wonders.

Then, in a twist, the Shrike’s immunity to the time-ball will no longer allow him to pop in and out of the scene. Hawkman and Hawkgirl, aware of what is happening, now concentrate with all their might to reappear and help their comrade. They succeed and the Shrike grabs onto Boros Bron and orders him to surrender. He does so and then the guards drop to their knees to pay fealty to Toros Tos, son of the former monarch, Koron Tos.

Only with this revelation of his true identity are the pieces of the puzzle put into place. Boros Bron reveals that years ago when his parents were on a sight-seeing tour of far away worlds along with their little child, they experienced a cosmic storm. Boros Bron learned of the storm via hyper-radio and that they’d jettisoned their son in a lifeboat rocket. And once again, in the last panel of page 23 we see that “The Spectre is coming!

It was assumed that the lifeboat rocket had also resulted in the demise of the child and so Boros Bron had taken the step of usurping the throne for all these years. On the spot, Toros Tos sentences Boros Bron to 30 years imprisonment and then makes the hawks honorary citizens of Moronon for all time.

In the closing panels, Hawkman informs Toros Tos that his story closely parallels that of his fellow Justice League of America member, Superman, and promises to tell the Man of Tomorrow about it. “It’ll give him a kick to learn of another super-powered person who found refuge on Earth!

That’s a wrap, dear reader, and even though at times I found Gardner Fox’s story to be a bit tough to follow, it was a good one, so my rating for this is an 8 on the 10-point scale for some good, escapist entertainment, leading from various point on planet Earth to some far-flung locales in space. Something for everyone.

May 1st is the date for the next review here at the dear ol’ Silver Lantern and meanwhile, take a peek around. The webmaster has put a lot of time and effort into creating this terrific resource for your reading and learning pleasure. Also, I extend the usual invitation to rattle my cage. If you’ve got questions or comments, let’s hear ‘em at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Until next time…

Long live the Silver Age!

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