Atom and Hawkman: The Beginning of a Questionable(?) Friendship

Category: Atom
Last article published: 8 October 2018
This is the 23rd post under this label
Back in 1968, two of DC's superhero series were failing. Hawkman's and the Atom's. The solution, cancel the first, and make the second a dynamic duo book that starred both. Maybe DC could save both by combining their fans. Well, no, it doesn't really work like that. As The Atom and Hawkman, the series would only last another 7 issues, only 3 of which featured the heroes working together, the rest evidently publishing stories meant for the solo series, chopped in half.

The commonly-held belief that the Atom and Hawkman are friends originally stems from this series existence, and even the most recent Hawkman series has made use of it. But how real is it, given they only half-heartedly shared a title for so brief a time? Is it just a title-canceling gimmick, or was there something there already? The switch in formats seems to come out of nowhere, its only herald the thoughts of a crow in the last panel of the Atom's previous story:
Looks like the same bird Hawkman is holding dead on the above cover. Brrr. In their first issue together, they're paling around the South American jungle as if the Tiny Titan and the Winged Fury had always been a combo, no explanation given. I mean, Hawkman ALREADY HAS a partner, in Hawkgirl, so there's no reason to bring a third wheel to the party. Nor is there a strong thematic connection between the two heroes.

But of course, these guys served in the Justice League of America together, so maybe we should look there for the seeds of their friendship. No wait! Even before that, their first meeting is chronicled in The Atom #7!
Indeed, these guys had a tradition of guesting in each other's books regardless of the JLA's adventures. It was in Hawkman #9 that they revealed their secret identities to one another.
So okay, it makes complete sense then that it's the Atom who carries an invitation to Hawkman to join the team. So it's not completely out of the blue that these two heroes would be forced to share a book, even if the announcement probably came out of left field for readers. Editorial fiat was only partly responsible. Because of Hawkman's conservative stances, especially in contrast to Green Arrow in the 70s, it would seem to paint Ray Palmer with the same brush. Well, Ray was always kind of a square, wasn't he? Working from a small college campus might have made him more liberal-minded, but we never really got that, I don't think. Birds of a feather, you might say. Having a similar worldview might also explain why they became friends as opposed to simple colleagues.

Or was that black bird just a manifestation of Mopee? YOU MAKE THE CALL!


American Hawkman said...

To me, Sword of the Atom explains a lot about their friendship... Ray clearly loves the barbarian sword and sorcery mystique, and Hawkman very much evokes that attitude.


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