1895 - Carter Hall is born.
1909 - 14-year-old Carter first journeys to Egypt with his family.
1913 - 18-year-old Carter begins studying Archaeology.
1916 - WWI begins while 21-year-old Carter is attending school in Egypt.
1917 - 22-year-old Carter completes his studies while fighting in the war.
1919 - WWI ends.
1921 - 26-year-old Carter returns to the US to teach & plan for his major excavation. He meets Shiera Sanders.
1929 - 34-year-old Carter discovers the tomb of Khufu. He learns that he and Shiera Sanders are the reincarnation of an ancient Thanagarian Pharaoh and his Queen. They becomes Hawkman and Hawkwoman.
1939 - WW2 begins.
1941 - After the attack on Pearl Harbor, The Justice Society is formed, including 46-year-old Carter, who is elected chairperson.
1945 - WW2 ends.
11 years ago - 56-year-old Carter returns from Ragnarok with the rest of the Justice Society and joins the Justice League with Shiera Hall.
10 years ago - 57-year-old Carter battles the newly hatched Northwind, helping him return to Khandaq.
Hawkman is a longtime favorite character of mine. He's one of the oldest characters in DC continuity with a long history of serving in the biggest and best teams in DC in multiple eras. He's intensely awesome; basically the Justice League equivalent of Wolverine. Unfortunately, in the years when I was really getting into comics he spent a very long time as the poster boy for broken character continuity. Watching him slowly regain his relevance was one of the most fun parts of the character. It's basically not DC without Hawkman, but finding the right way to use him is one of the most fun parts of this process.
Hawkman's Comic History
Hawkman is one of the creations of Gardner Fox, debuting all the way back in Flash Comics #1 in 1940, the same issue that gave us Jay Garrick & Johnny Thunder. He is established as a man who discovers that he is the reincarnation of an egyptian pharaoh, and also immediately meets Shiera, the reincarnation of his past-selves love. I've never been 100% certain how that very clever origin story exactly leads to a dude with wings, but the result is one of my personal favorite superheroes of all time. He would go on to become a founding member and chairman of the Justice Society of America, positioning him among the most prominent heroes of the Golden Age.
In the 60's, as superheroes started to see a resurgence in popularity, classic Golden Age heroes had new characters spun out of them with new costumes and sci-fi backstories. We were introduced to Katar & Shayera Hol, alien police officers from the planet Thanagar. They were soon inducted into the new Justice League of America, where often they would, just like Barry Allen's Flash or Hal Jordan's Green Lantern, interact with their predecessors when they would have their annual crossover with the Earth-2 Justice Society.
Things get a little weird in 1989, with the publication of Tim Truman's Hawkworld, a retelling of the origins of Katar Hol. It was one of several stories designed to retell the origins of many of the characters after the Crisis of Infinite Earths. It was a good story, but the decision was made to extend it into an ongoing series set alongside the rest of the ongoing continuity... which suddenly meant that Katar Hol was only just NOW arriving on Earth. This meant that a series of retcons were necessary, explaining that the Hawkman and Hawkgirl that had been serving on the Justice League all this time were, in fact, Carter and Shiera. This created MORE issues, however, since these characters had actually met each other before. This necessitated the use of a THIRD character, this one a Thanagarian spy named Fel Andar who was posing as Katar and infiltrating the Justice League... the attempts to resolve the continuity errors were just making it worse. There was an attempt during another crossover, Zero Hour, to resolve this by merging all the various Hawkmen into a single avatar of a 'Hawk God' but that just read like a cop-out. by the early 90's, Hawkman was considered a broken character.
The series JSA was awesome for the way it reimagined fragmented or broken character continuity for classic characters, but the work by Geoff Johns to bring back Carter Hall's Hawkman has to be their finest moment. By establishing the egyptian prince that was resurrected as Carter Hall was himself Thanagarian, and that the Hawks were living an endless cycle of reincarnations, he managed to return the character to prominence, leading to his own series.
Our Hawkman Story
We get a chance to cherry-pick the very dense history of this character when making our own version. The biggest change we're making overall is that we chose to make the Thanagarians (and their near-magical Nth metal weaponry) a relic of the past. There are no Thanagarians anymore, the race killed itself off in a storyline we'll be telling using the powerful Hawkman villain Onymar Synn. By doing this we get to make the relics of their civilization, and the weapons the hawks wield that much more powerful. This means that Katar Hol and any of the stories involving modern-day Tanagarians simply won't exist. All we have is their influence on an ancient pharaoh, and their modern-day reincarnations as Carter and Shiera. Also, we don't actually think they need to have experienced constant reincarnation across history. Since we're not trying to explain lots of different versions of the character, a single reincarnation is fine.
So this means that Carter and Shiera, archeologists in the 30's, discover their status as reincarnations of the ancient Thanagarian pharaohs, gain access to their Nth metal armory, and become Hawkman and Hawkwoman, joining the classic Justice Society and fighting in World War II. Then, because we've already created the Ragnarok event that kills many Society members and brings others forward in time, this allows the two of them to join the satellite-era Justice League, and for Carter to also become a founding member of the modern-day Justice Society.
Carter & Shaiera
It's actually really cool that these two characters, Hawkman and Hawkwoman have been working as partners and equals for pretty much as long as they've existed. Most superheroes have love interests that they are lying to about their secret identity, but not these two. Depictions of women in comics have, of course, been problematic over the years, but there is a lot to like about the way these two have always shared their stories.
In the 2000's when Johns brought Carter back from obscurity, the JSA series had already introduced Kendra Saunders, a new, modern take on Hawkgirl. She was made a reincarnation of Shiera and therefore the new destined love interest for Carter, although it never really quite felt comfortable. We're introducing the idea that Kendra is actually the reincarnation of the daughter of those original pharaohs, which will connect her to Carter and Shiera without any of the weirdness. Carter and Shiera will, through our entire story, remain a couple.
Hawkman's Costume & Future
There's actually less variation in Hawkman's costume than you might think. His Justice Society costume is often depicted with a yellow hood rather than his full feathered cowl, but that was mostly done retroactively to differentiate between the Carter Hall and Kator Hol costumes; his original appearances all feature the full cowl. The Kator Hol Hawkman would eventually have a more armored look with big metal wings that came from the Hawkworld series, and there were some other designs in the years when his origins were up in the air, but a huge part of the success of his return in JSA was the return of his original costume. They removed the small red shorts in favor of green pants and added tons of weapon and armor detail. That's an awesome look and the one I like the most.
As we leave our timeline, Hawkman has had a truly legendary career. He and Shiera are both in their 60's, have served on the Justice Society and Justice League, and are now retired. A new hero, Kendra Saunders, has taken up the mantle of Hawkgirl and is serving in the new Watchtower, carrying on their legacy. Technically, Carter and Shiera are humans, but their biology is enhanced both by their connections to Thanagarian history, and by their use of Nth Metal. There's no reason for them to actually be showing any signs of slowing down at all. Even in their retirement it shouldn't be that complicated to bring the characters out again, working alongside the rest of the superhero community.