This month, Hawkgirl turns twenty years old.
Of course, Hawkgirl has been around since the 1940s. Yet by 1999, over the course of 60 years, there had been three variations of Hawkgirl. (That is not counting any pretenders.) The first one was Shiera Hall and she made her debut in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940). The second Hawkgirl, the one from the silver age, was also known as Shiera Hall; although, her real name was Shayera Hol and she was from the planet Thanagar. She first appeared in Brave and the Bold #34 (March 1961). Both Hawkgirls appeared off and on during the Bronze Age (1970 to 1985). The third Hawkgirl, the one from the dark ages of comic books, first appeared in Hawkworld #1 (August 1989).
In August 1999, a fourth Hawkgirl first appeared in JSA: Secret Files & Origins #1 (August 1999).
Before Kendra “Hawkgirl” Saunders appeared in 1999, Hawkgirl #3 went back to her home planet of Thanagar and she later appeared to die in Rann-Thanagar War #5 (November, 2005). Hawkgirl #2 survived Crisis on Infinite Earths, but she last appeared in Justice League International #24 (February 1989). Hawkgirl #1 first went to Limbo following COIE. Later, she returned with the JSA and was then obliterated in the timestream in the Zero Hour #3 (September 1994).
Hawkgirl #1 had a cousin who was one of the earliest characters in DC Comics. His name was Speed Saunders and he was a character created before Superman and before Batman. He first appeared in Detective Comics #1 (1937) in a feature titled “Speed Saunders and the River Patrol.”
When Kendra Saunders was introduced in 1999, it was established that she was a granddaughter of Speed Saunders and Shiera Hall was to her a great aunt.
Her origin story is told in the same issue that she made her debut in JSA: Secret Files & Origins #1, where on three pages we watch as she changes into a redesigned Hawkgirl costume. She jumps off a mesa in West Texas, and she flies!
Now technically speaking, the Hawkgirl that appeared in August 1999 is not the same Hawkgirl that appears in the current Justice League series. The Hawkgirl who appeared in August 1999 had an appearance of death in Blackest Night #1 (July 2009). The current Hawkgirl also goes by the same name, Kendra Saunders, and has a mysterious origin that I do not think has been fully explained. This Hawkgirl (#5) first appeared in Dark Days: The Forge #1 (August, 2017).
The point is that the Kendra Saunders character has been with us now for 20 years. So, Happy birthday Kendra Saunders!