Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Thinking about Hawkgirl

In my last post, I mentioned that I'm not terribly fond of Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl. Since I need a blog post for today anyway, I figured I'd go with that.

I don't hate Kendra as a character but I do rather dislike her right now and I really have a lot of trouble articulating why.

In very early issues of JSA, Kendra really interested me. For all my play-griping about Hawkman, I really do like the Hawks in general. They have wings. They hit people with maces. They're blunt and straightforward. They look cool. Their backstory is incomprehensible, but that's half the fun.

Kendra appealed to me. I liked her design and her forceful personality. I liked that she was hot-tempered and a bit reluctant for the hero role. Most of the other JSA members initially were either old hats or enthusiastic newcomers, so she made for a different perspective. I also liked the way she interacted with Courtney, Dinah and Kara.

I liked the relationship with Sand and the early relationship with Carter as well. I found her situation terribly sympathetic. She was confused, Carter was attractive, there was all the past life baggage. Perfectly understandable. I also liked how she kissed Sand for all the wrong reasons. (I'm not as fond of the hitting him thing, but...)

I suppose it was little things that started getting to me, really early on. As much as I liked the early Kendra/Carter stuff, the period in the comics right before he came back was one in which I started to find her very trying. It's not her fault, really, her characterization was perfectly understandable. But the storyline seemed to drag. It felt like Kendra-tantrum, Kendra-angst, Kendra-tantrum, Kendra-angst, hit-Sand, rinse repeat.

And this is a very personal thing, but the suicide thing also pushed a few of my buttons. I have...issues about suicide in general that I'd really rather not get into. I'm not adverse to a good story about attempted or actual suicide either in the present or having happened in the past to a character, but this didn't really work for me.

It doesn't make sense, I know, but I'd have much preferred it if she had *attempted* suicide in the past but actually died in some freak car accident or something. I have no idea why this is, but I'll chalk it up to personal issues and leave it at that

Those problems are small though, by the Roulette arc at least I was still enjoying and sympathizing with Kendra a lot.

I don't know, I guess I felt somewhere along the line Carter was becoming more developed and three dimensional and Kendra was becoming a caricature of herself. She went from being a conflicted, troubled girl trying to cling to her identity in the face of a very overwhelming past, to just being...angry. So much so that on the rare occasions where she's not angry, I can't really get a sense of who she IS or what makes her tick anymore.

And to be honest, while I really liked the early Carter/Kendra stuff, after a few years the on-again, off-again, will-they, won't-they was really really tiresome. Just do it already! Christ! At least when Sand was in the picture there was an added, unpredictable element.

I don't know. It probably wouldn't take much for me to like her again (My irrational love for my irrational hatred of Nightwing aside, I much prefer liking characters to disliking them and really only tend to need a way to "touch base" with what about the character works for me) and I do find her, like Carter or Batman, interesting in a group setting. I just currently have absolutely no interest in reading her in a solo comic right now.


  • At March 31, 2007 9:50 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I don't follow Kendra much, I just can't get past those gawdawful Chaykin covers on her book. Yechh.

    On the other hand, I found her to be rather amusing over in Birds of Prey #104, when she clobbers the sports car full of villains. She did make one heck of a secret weapon for Oracle.


    Boy do I like Barda!

  • At March 31, 2007 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Did you ever watch the JL toon at all? I find myself in the curious position of liking a few DC characters more on that show than I do in the DCU proper. Hawkgirl is one, John Stewart, Wonder Woman, and Vixen are another. They did a better job of making these characters seem like the ones in my head than the actual comics did, particularly Wonder Woman.

    Cripes, the episode with John Stewart and Vixen fighting the Shadow Thief in her apartment got me all psyched up for her to be in JLA and Meltzer goes and writes her like some kind of rookie zombie. Barfo.

    Anyway, I'm curious if you're able to separate DCU Hawkgirl/Kendra and DCAU Hawkgirl/Shayera. I tend to prefer the DCAU one, myself.

  • At March 31, 2007 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There's a weird bit of creepy nerd wish fulfillment in the Carter/Kendra relationship- we're fated to be, if only she'd come around. Contrast this with the Katar/Shayera relationship in Hawkworld, which was about two people on equal footing coming to love each other, and it gets, well, frustrating. Why did Johns also feel the need to retcon a daugther she gave up for adoption into it too?

    Kendra seems too defined by her wounds and/or her relationships with men than a person with real ideals and goals and interests for herself.

    Really, this should have been addressed years ago and still hasn't, and I think readers are just tired of it. Maybe they want to see the take no prisoners, strong, angsty but not whiny redheaded Hawkgirl from the DCAU, but as long as Geoff Johns is one of their biggest names, I have a feeling Shayera Thal will still be floating out there in her space coffin.

    Sigh... I'm never gonna get over that.

  • At April 01, 2007 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I loved the old, sarcastic, silent movie lovin', floral-print panties wearin' version of Kendra. She was cool, funny, and idiosyncratic. Any superheroine who spends two pages talking about her love of Louise Brooks and W.C. Fields is ace in my book. The current version is boringly one-dimensional and yes, is completely defined by her relationships with men. Simonson and Chaykin really ruined the character. Thanks, guys!

  • At April 02, 2007 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Once again, you have done a well-written piece on a character. It adds to my perspective some, because as a fairly new (since last May) comics buyer I've only seen Kendra in her own comic. I'll have to go track down some of her earlier appearences. Looks like there's some good JSA stuff!

    david brothers: I actually started watching the JL cartoon long before collecting comics and it's kinda what led to eventually start. Hawkgirl was my favorite character from the show and still is. After being initially disappointed that the Hawkgirl in comics is different, I actually have grown to like Kendra as much as Shayera. I am, however, still pissed that they killed Shayera in Rann/Thanagar. >:(

    As a side note, how many people think that "Hawkwoman" sounds better as a name than "Hawkgirl"? The k and g in Hawkgirl blend together to make it sound kind of awkward. Not to mention the whole "girl" naming convention thing. Just on a phonetic level though, I think "Powergirl" sounds better than "Powerwoman".


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