Inspired by the political divisions of a decade long past, they’re still a part of the DC Universe today: Meet The Hawk and The Dove! Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Showcase #75 awaits!
Writer: Steve Ditko/Steve Skeates
Penciler: Steve Ditko
Inker: Steve Ditko
Letterer: Ray Holloway
Editor: Carmine Infantino
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 12 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $200.00
Previously in Showcase: Though accounts on their creation vary (Carmine Infantino said that he conceived the series, scripter Steve Skeates called it a group effort with Jack C. Harris crediting the idea to Ditko alone), the idea of two brothers, one pacifist and one aggressor, is a strong one. In 1968, the Vietnam War was still an active conflict, with those politicians in favor of military action being referred to as “hawks” and those arguing for peace dubbed “doves.” Into that political minefield are thrust brother Hank and Don Hall, whose first appearance is in mid-argument…
Don’s peaceful demonstration erupts in violence, thanks to Hank and his jock friends, leading to the police being called to break it up, while the brothers continue to argue their personal ethics. On the other side of town, their father, Judge Irwin Hall, metes out uncompromising justice from his bench, giving a criminal named Dargo the maximum possible sentence and drawing the ire of the criminal underworld. Judge Hall returns home to find his boys still butting heads, only to interrupted… by a grenade!
This, by the way, is Ditko at the height of his powers, right off of Spider-Man and unleashed to ink his own work (and, depending on whom you believe, to inject his own socio-political leanings into the mix, which led to irritation on the part of writer Steve Skeates, who kept finding the dialogue altered to make Hank’s violent opinions stronger and Don’s ridiculous.) Hank Hall loses sight of the bad guy, but heads back to find that his father has survived the explosion. The brothers Hall set out to find the criminals, tracking the guy that Hank followed back to their lair, only to end up trapped in the gangsters’ cellar.
Strangely unmoved by the literal Voice From Beyond (a presence that is never explained, but is strongly hinted in these stories to be the capital-g God), Hank demands the power to rip apart the thugs who would have hurt his father. Don, for his part, only wants to save his father and other innocents from danger. The Voice declares them a Hawk and a Dove, and transforms the brothers accordingly. With Dargo’s thugs attacking their dad in his hospital room, The Hawk and The Dove leap into action, continuing to argue all the way before making their entrance in style.
The brothers make short work of the criminal element, even introducing themselves in their transformed states before making a break for it. As they prepare to sneak back in, Hank and Don are surprised (though they probably shouldn’t be) by their father’s law-and-order stance on vigilantes.
The issue ends with Don ready to throw in the towel, but Hank itching to bust more heads with his superhuman strength, setting up for ongoing conflict. As was often the case with Showcase in the 1960s, this tryout was followed by an ongoing series, although their number one was remarkably quick to arrive, hitting the stands in September. Showcase #75 makes for in impressive debut for a concept that has legs, although God will be replaced with avatars of Order and Chaos somewhere down the line, with some peak good-looking Ditko art and inspired designs pushing us over the top to earn 4 out of 5 stars overall.
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Ditko looks amazing, and the script is pretty good, though I wish they would ease up on making Don look like a milquetoast. An entertaining read!