So I’ve mentioned that the latest Here’s The Thing made me want to do a fresh Hawkman pitch, which is partly “Oh, I like this idea,” and partly me just being a contrarian. Which, to be honest, is where my last Hawkman pitch came from. But here goes.
Carter Hall is a fairly young archeologist with a reputation for…odd theories about the past. He denies going so far as an Ancient Astronauts believer, but he does think there is a reflexive dismissal of unusual theories about the Earth’s past, when they should be at least considered seriously. So when a source alerts him to a truly staggering find in Egypt, he’s the first to organize an expedition, even if it’s only by the skin of his teeth (funding is hard to come by when you’re working to avoid being the laughingstock of the profession).
When he arrives, it’s obvious that something truly unearthly has been found and is being excavated, but many people assume the alien ship is a hoax of some kind, even as its size and construction argue against it. Once it’s mostly unearthed, Carter discovers the entry way, and-what’s more astonishing-it still has enough power to open on its own. As everyone else hangs back, astonished and scared, Carter (charitably described as determined, uncharitably as really fucking stubborn) goes inside and discovers hundreds of Thanagarian skeletons, still wearing their uniforms and weaponry, and a record of their ship’s logs…which he can’t read, of course. At least, not until he picks up a mace that had been laying across the keyboard of the console.
Carter is suddenly flooded with memories from the ship’s captain, an unquiet spirit who has been trapped underground for millenia, trying to complete his last mission of establishing a presence in Earth space, specifically to fight against the supernatural forms that even then, the Thanagarians could tell were focusing on this particular planet. But a mutiny among the crew threw them off course, and even as the captain was fighting the ringleader, his former command officer, the ship crashed and killed the entire crew. Now Carter can read the Thanagarian script, understand the technology, even know much about the Thanagarian homeworld. It leaves him reeling, almost unconscious, as the captain’s spirit grips him and commands him to take up the charge to protect the Earth (and by extension, all of space) from the encroaching threat of otherworldly creatures and threats from beyond the veil.
When Carter finally recovers enough to be aware of himself again, he is almost a whole new person, ready to fight against the darkness…and he’ll have to start by surviving the Thanagarian skeletons that are now starting to move, and arming themselves to kill the living interloper.
Casting Hawkman as a man who fights the supernatural might not be the most novel niche for him, but I think it would sidestep some of the problems of his convoluted continuity by merging some elements at the beginning, discarding others, and leaving a few elements fallow at first, but allowing them to come back if it seems appropriate. It also introduces the idea of a Hawkman who has to struggle with what he does in specific situations. The Thanagarian ideal would be to banish all supernatural things and rely purely on physical skill, might, and technology, but Hawkman himself isn’t as dogmatic; despite the new voice in his skull, he can recognize that Captain Marvel is (in theory) a force for good, not evil. But it also means that any time he encounters a person who uses magic (for example, John Constantine), he’s going to almost always take a dim view of it.
It also means that you can give his solo book an entirely different focus from his presence on a team. On his own, he could focus on doing things like finding an ancient crypt, and then wading into it mace first to beat back the dark spirits and ancient rituals of blood that saturate the area. Or help someone who is convinced there’s something strange about how their spouse went missing, but no one believes them. Even when he’s not fighting against magic, he’s trying to learn more about Thanagar, fulfilling the still existing drive to learn more about how aliens (and now magic, he knows) affected human history.
Meanwhile, on a team book he can be a burgeoning expert on the supernatural who disdains speaking in riddles or using magic himself, outside of any necessary protective symbols for those who don’t have the Nth metal tools he does. And maybe speak with some authority about an alien race that isn’t inherently hostile to humanity, but also doesn’t really give a damn about its well being compared to their own mission. But he’s also happy to hit a target upside the head with his mace, even if it’s a perfectly non-magical robot; that practical side of Thanagarian tech means they didn’t make things that only work against magic, after all.
Finally, ditch the conservative political side of Hawkman that’s been shoe-horned in, and make him a cynic with a grim sense of humor. In that sense he’s getting uncomfortably close to behaving like Batman, but when you have an alien ghost in your head constantly reminding you that he would really like you to fight off other spirits, it’d be hard to be happy-go-lucky.