The Great Equalizer

Justice League of America (1960 1st Series) #117 (April 1975) VG/FN 5.0 $5.00

Cover Artist Mike Grell

I bought another three books from the 1970s upon which neither of them doth Hawkgirl appear. The three books in question were Justice League of America #117, #118, & #119 (April, May, & June 1975). The Equalizer story-arc appeared in these three issues.

Please allow me to explain the Equalizer story-arc and Hawkgirl‘s connection but first allow me to present my view of the character’s role in the Bronze-age of comics.

Imagine if you will that the 1960s run of Hawkman written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Murphy Anderson had instead of “Batman” been a television show – perhaps one starring, oh I do not know, Vince Edwards as Hawkman and maybe Stephanie Powers as Hawkgirl.

From 1964 to 1969, Hawkgirl appeared regularly in the first series to bear the title “Hawkman”. As she was the spouse, she was more than just a sidekick and a number of times she played an important role in deciding the outcome of the Hawks monthly adventure.

During this period – the Silver-age – Hawkman was a member of the Justice League of America and occasionally Hawkgirl would put in a cameo appearance.

At the dawn of the Bronze-age, in Justice League of America #72 (June 1969) – written by Dennis O’Neil and drawn by Dick Dillin, Hawkgirl was more of a guest star who was central to the plot of the story. She did however in this case play a “damsel in distress”, as she did in many other stories.

The Bronze-age saw a number of transitions such as a slightly modified Wonder Woman returning to the league and Green Lantern and Green Arrow hitting the roads of America Route-66-style.

In issue #109 of Justice League of America (February 1974), the main story was titled “Doom of the Divided Man” (written by Len Wein – drawn by Dick Dillin – inked by Dick Giordano). The story began with Hawkman announcing to the Justice League that he was leaving.

This begins a very long story-arc of intrigue involving the Hawks and their home world of Thanagar.

In addition, it is in #109 that the Hawk’s story-arc intersects with another that began with #100. That issue and the two that followed formed the annual crisis series of 1972. In that crisis series it was listed that there were 33 heroes going up against a villain who was a COSMIC SUPER-BEING. And guess what? Hawkgirl was not one of those 33 heroes

Anyway, getting back to Hawkman’s departure from the JLA. He said that it had nothing to do with Green Arrow’s insults. He further explained: “I am afraid this is bigger than all of us as you know I am a police officer of the planet Thanagar sent here with my wife Shayera to study Earth’s various criminological techniques. This morning I received an interstellar message… Hawkgirl and I have been summoned home. We must go as we are called. Shayera‘s home right now packing. In a few brief hours we will be Star-bound.”

At that point, Hawkman is interrupted by Snapper Carr and Red Tornado. Before he leaves, Hawkman goes on one last adventure with the JLA; teaming up with Green Arrow and Elongated Man.

Dick Dillin

The Hawk’s departure for Thanagar did not go over well with many fans of the JLA series. In the very back pages of JLA issue #112 there was an extra “Letters to the Editor” section, entitled “Fuss & Feathers over Hawkman, a JLA mailroom extra.” There were about seven letters, almost all opposing the departure of Hawkman and Hawkgirl from the series. The editors respond by hinting that either Hawkman may return or that someone might be “waiting in the wings.”

Then after a half-year absence, Hawkman returns. This occurs in the subject of this post: Justice League of America #117 (April 1975). The story is titled: “I have no wings and I must fly!”, written by Elliot S. Maggin and drawn by Dick Dillin

On the cover we see Hawkman in silhouette while Superman is asking the other members of the Justice League of America “What about it? A former member demands to rejoin the Justice League!”

On the title page it announces a new star-studded split spectacular it is an epic in the history of the Milky Way galaxy.

The super villain in this story is a creature known as the Equalizer. He is six-armed monster who wears a helmet with horns has bug like eyes and an unkempt mustache.

Green Lantern is on duty on board the satellite stationary in orbit 22,300 miles above the earth when he sees a spacecraft in orbit around Mars and says: “Ordinarily I had trek out there myself and check it out that this is a matter that is of interest to the whole Justice league”. So, he fires off the emergency signal.

Batman and Green Arrow transport aboard the satellite with a character named Charlie Parker. This teenage boy is supposed to be the Golden Eagle, someone who was a fan of Hawkman and is now a superhero. On top of this, suddenly the JLA is considering Charlie for honorary membership. He first appeared in issue #116 and was an aberration created by longtime Hawkman foe, Matter Master. Since he bears almost no relationship with either Hawkman or Hawkgirl and his origin story is kind of sketch, one wonders if he was not a plant designed to make die-hard Hawkman fans rally for return of the real Hawks. This coincided with the return of the golden-age Hawks when All-Star Comics revived after being dormant for 25-years. This was followed by All-Star Squadron in the Eighties.

Thankfully, Charlie Parker did not replace the Hawks and they did eventually return. Charlie Parker (aka Golden Eagle) did become a member of the Teen Titans West when that was briefly a thing in the 70s.

In response to Green Lantern’s signal, five members of the JLA (Superman, Atom, Batman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow), plus Charlie assembled on the satellite. The group (minus Charlie) heads out towards Mars aided by the Green Lantern bringing along a large green bubble containing those who cannot survive in outer space without assistance – those three being Batman, Atom, and Green Arrow.

Upon their arrival at Mars, the group encounters multiple interlopers. First, they are attacked by someone whom they recognize as Katar Hol (aka Hawkman). He defeats each of the five JLA and as a result the members all feel as though they have been weakened and have each lost a portion of their “super-powers”.

As Katar flies off, the reader is allowed to see into his thoughts. He tells us that he hated tricking the Justice Leaguers as he is done but was necessary for him to “steal” some of their powers. He then goes on to tell us how after he and Shayera returned to Thanagar they witnessed a “weird ship sprinkling the world like a crop duster.” He thought at first that this was a joke until he arrived on the planets surface there he experienced and witnessed something very strange. Katar felt himself shrinking and becoming “too frail” to carry his wings. He tells us that he has been equalized as had most of the entire planet. It is explained that planet had been dusted with alien microbes which affect people when they exert themselves, making them physically equal to everyone around them.

Dick Dillin

In an effort to stop the equalizer from infecting the galaxy, Katar came up with a plan to expose himself to the Justice Leaguers and thereby steal a fraction of their powers from this equalizing disease. While the Justice Leaguers are on the surface of Mars trying to figure out what to do next Katar engages the Equalizer in a space battle. Using the bits and pieces of the superpowers that he acquired from the others he attempts to take down the menace; however, as the Equalizer attacks and de-materializes Katar’s spaceship, he is rescued by Green Lantern and the others Justice Leaguers. Now there are six heroes, and this allows them to come up with a battle plan involving counterbalancing the Equalizer’s attempt to balance everything. By surrounding their foe, the five Justice Leaguers, plus Hawkman caused the Equalizer to disappear and possibly self-destruct.

The universe has been saved from the Equalizing plague, Hawkman is back and all is good with the world.

In the epilogue, Hawkman is seen sitting in midst of the membership of the JLA. He humbly asks that his membership in the super-hero group be restored. All present say “Yes” and Hawkman is now back in the JLA.

But where is Shayera?

She is quarantined along with everyone else on the planet Thanagar. Hawkman states that he has been cured of the disease and thus begins the next phase of his plan to liberate his home-world from the ravages of the Equalizing disease.

The story of the Equalizer is To Be Continued in the next issue.

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