25 years ago - Kendra Saunders is born.
11 years ago - 14-year-old Kendra's uncle Speed becomes the caretaker of the Hawk's Armory when Hawkman & Hawkwoman return from Ragnarok. She begins training with their Thanagarian weapons.
8 years ago - 17-year-old Kendra has a daughter named Mia, and gives her up for adoption.
4 years ago - 21-year-old Kendra steals a Thanagarian harness & sets out to bring her parent's killers to justice, taking the name Hawkgirl.
3 years ago - 22-year-old Kendra is asked by Hawkman and Hawkwoman to continue as Hawkgirl. She joins the Justice Society. She battles Shadow Thief, and has her past life memories unlocked by his soul-knife. She refuses to let her past life define her and destroys the knife, defeating him.
Hawkgirl achieved the height of her popularity during the run of the animated Justice League series, where the character was a reinterpretation of the fully alien Thanagarian Shayera Hol. If you read the comics during that era, however, you were reading stories about an entirely different Hawkgirl: Kendra Saunders. Kendra owed very little to the legacy of Hawkman and Hawkwoman that had come before her. She was a new, exciting interpretation of the concept. She was poised to have a bold impact on DC, but eventually had her story diminished as she was continually tied into the original Hawks's story. By our estimation, the best way to use these characters is to let the Hawks have their day, but to acknowledge that Kendra is a character all her own, and that her story will be awesome.
Hawkgirl's Comic History
It's impossible to overstate the impact of the introduction of Kendra Saunders. The history and identity of Hawkman and Hawkwoman had been so thoroughly complicated that the characters were considered unrecoverable, and were serving as little more than cautionary tales. When James Robinson introduced Kendra, an entirely new Hawkgirl, in the pages of his new JSA, It was one of the very first times we had seen a character with such a huge profile have it's complicated continuity repaired by SIMPLIFYING it. Kendra was Shiera's grand niece. Simple. Done.
Other elements were added to Kendra's story as she became a part of the return of Carter Hall, the original Hawkman, as orchestrated by Geoff Johns, who at the time was the absolute king of repairing damaged continuity. Kendra was now a survivor of attempted suicide and had experiences a 'mid-life reincarnation', which meant she now had the soul of Shiera. Taken out of context, it sounds a little weird, but it worked to develop a larger narrative tapestry for the Hawks and paved the way for some truly great stories. Kendra was a frontline character in the JSA and even served several tenures with the Justice League, but eventually the constant need to bring back deceased characters meant she was replaced by a reincarnated Shiera, and one of the best characters of the era was lost.
Our Hawkgirl Story
Because the Hawks story begins during World War II, it's impossible to actually make Kendra related to Shiera Hall. Instead we made her a modern character whose uncle curates their Nth Metal armor. She grew up practicing with their weapons, which is more than enough of a connection to arm her with a wing harness and her own weaponry when she sets out to begin her quest for revenge against her parents murderers. The legacy of Hawkman and Hawkwoman is one that thrives in deep connections, but Kendra really doesn't need to have all of that. She can just be a badass..
Kendra was created as a member of the modern JSA, and that connection remains. She of course goes on to join the other greatest heroes of her generation in the Watchtower, as she SHOULD, but even still her connection to the JSA remains. It's very much where she belongs.
The comics also tried very hard to give Kendra a romantic connection to Carter Hall, but it never once felt natural. Not only is Carter's great love meant to be Shiera rather than Kendra, but it always seemed like Kendra was being written into a corner, relationship-wise. She was young, passionate, vibrant and physical, and her story was always at it's best when she was free to romance whomever she liked.
Traditionally, Kendra isn't a reincarnation of a particular person. Instead, she's described as a reincarnation of Shiera, but that feels a lot like writing in circles. (It also presents the idea of having a male character insisting that a female character is destined to love him, which isn't particularly pleasant). We're also doing away with the notion that Carter and Shiera have been reincarnated many times. They instead have had just one previous life, as Thanagarian warriors who settled in ancient Egypt as king and queen. Rather than trying to connect Kendra to this cycle of reincarnation through the Hawks, it makes way more sense for her to have a past life connection of her own.
We'll be outlining the Thanagarian characters the Hawks reincarnated from, but by establishing that in their past life, Carter and Shiera were her parents, Kendra's connection to their legacy becomes simpler, more tactile, more immediate and altogether more her own. Kendra should never be depicted as an extension of Carter and Shiera, she should always be allowed her own story.
This idea also allows us to connect the story of the Hawks to an actual dynasty that actually existed in ancient Egypt, and we look forward to detailing the connections when we get to those characters.
Kendra and Shiera's costumes have a lot of similarities, but because they were never co-existing in the comics, (and also because Kendra's stories coincided with Sheyera's adventures in the animated series), they get mixed up quite a bit. There are a few features that make Kendra's costume unique. First is the physical differences between the two women; Shiera has long red hair, while Kendra has short brown hair that is very much her trademark. Shiera is very pale, while Kendra appears vaguely Egyptian.
Kendra's costume exposes her stomach and covers her neck, while Shiera's was the opposite. Kendra's costume also almost always features wrapping around her wrists and forearms, as well as a variety of armor pieces and utility belts.
Finally, while Hawkman and Hawkwoman regularly carried their maces, It was Kendra that first introduced the idea that she brandished an entire Nth Metal arsenal, regularly carrying daggers, swords and spears with a variety of shapes. The other Hawks might occasionally have more weapons, but Kendra is generally armed to the teeth.
As a member of both the Justice Society and the Watchtower, Hawkgirl is by far one of the most influential heroes in all of DC. She's going to be a major player in all the stories moving forward, and we're eager to watch Kendra live up to the awesome potential of her legacy.
Closer to home, there is the fact that the series Batman Beyond depicted a character named Warhawk; the future son of Shayera and Jon Stewart. That pairing can't happen in out timeline, but it actually stands to reason that Kendra might someday have a son that grows up to be that future hero. When Kendra and Roy Harper first joined the Justice League together, they quickly began a whirlwind love affair that ended pretty badly, and we imagine that as they join the Watchtower together in our story something similar might happen. Meanwhile, Cyborg has ALSO joined the Watchtower, and there is something about the idea of Kendra and Cyborg together that feels weirdly apropos. Kendra is generally above this sort of thing, but sometimes superhero stories are at their best with a good old-fashioned love-triangle right in the middle of them.