For years, fans of DC's animated shows have had a real problem - while Batman and Superman were plentiful, none of their numerous guest stars ever received plastic immortality. That led to a lot of animated-style customs, but the lack was still glaring. Finally, however, with the premiere of Justice League Unlimited, things have changed. The scope got bigger, and the guest stars weren't guests any more - they were part of the team. Mattel followed suit, finally giving us official figures of the characters people have been customizing for so long.
Hank and Don Hall were brothers who, despite loving each other as family, were diametrically opposed to each other due to their radically different social ideologies. The more aggressive Hank preferred to settle disputes through physical confrontation, whereas the pacifist Don favored the use of diplomacy over aggression. Thus, the two brothers clashed repeatedly over issues related to politics and society, until the day where they were united to achieve a common goal.
Created by Steve Ditko in the late 60s, Hawk and Dove were one of those "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" comic creations that were born more out of a desire to use a catchy name than to tell a good story. Back in the day, the terms "hawk" and "dove" were the politically convenient buzzwords used to blindly and broadly lump people into categories based on their opinions about the Vietnam war.
It'd be like someone creating a duo named Life and Choice today. Or the Family Valueteers or the 9/11ths or something stupid like that. You know, "relevent" in the way that only out-of-touch white guys can manage. But back in the day, when Green Lantern and Green Arrow were roadtripping around the country, the idea made sense.
The characters lasted all of six issues before facing the big C (cancellation), and were pretty much invisible until Crisis on Infinite Earths, where Dove died. Then he was replaced by a new female Dove, who later died, causing Hawk to go nuts and become Monarch, but only because some DC staffer couldn't keep his or her mouth shut about Captain Atom and gave the fanboys plenty of time to go all H.E.A.T. in those pre-internet days. Atom's National Admiration League or somesuch, I'm sure.
Hank/Hawk is the bruiser of the team, large and imposing. Along with enhanced speed, he also gained increased stength in his superheroic persona. Mattel really only has two or three male bodies for this line, so of course Hawk gets the biggest version. He shares his broad shoulders with the likes of Superman - though he does have a few changes.
The figure stands 4 3/4" and, of course, only moves at the Big Five. Mattel has scrapped the idea of knees and elbows for their animated figures, sadly. Hawk's costume is mostly white, with red gloves, boots, mask, trunks and cape. Well, if you can call that thing a cape. It's really just four angular strips that hang around his shoulders.
Don/Dove is the strategist, gaining enhanced agility when he activated his powers. He shares his body with the tiny guys, like Flash or Dr. Fate, which is why he's only 4 1/2" tall. Dove's costume is mostly blue, with white where his brother has red. The only thing missing is his little cape - though it's suggested by the paint, Dove's "cape" was more of a shawl that hung over his shoulders, but it's missing here.
Hawk and Dove really do have some of the nicest costumes in comics, displaying Ditko's talent as a designer. It's the little details that really do it: the edges of Hawk's costume are harsh and angular, while Dove's are more rounded. Though their use of white is reversed, they still manage to look the same because of the way the colors are applied.
In the comics, Dove always came off as a wimp - mostly because even if the writer had an idea of how to portray a pacifist superhero, the editors didn't. Scripts were rewritten after they were handed in and a lot of Don's dialogue was reassigned to Hank, unbalancing the comic and making it seem like a radically pro-war statement.
Fortunately, Justice League Unlimited didn't have any problems with that. The bickering between the brothers actually seemed familial rather than antagonistic, and Don was more than a useless whiner. While Hawk fought like a boxer, using brute force to knock things down until they couldn't get up again, Dove used a form of judo to overcome his opponents - neither worked better than the other, they were just different.
In the episode, Hawk and Dove were voiced by Fred Savage and Jason Hervey, best known for playing brothers Kevin and Wayne Arnold on The Wonder Years. However, for JLU, their roles were reversed: Savage played the brash and dominating Hank, while Hervey was the meeker Don.
The Justice League figures are now mainly sold in three-packs, and most often it works out to be two existing figures and one new one, which is annoying beyond all compare. Hawk and Dove come with Wonder Woman, the three of them representing the third-season episode "Hawk and Dove." Clever title, huh? Even if you already have Princess Diana, this set is worth purchasing: the WW here is an entirely different sculpt than what we had before, less demure and more confident - apparently her time in Man's World is starting to piss her off.
Hawk and Dove are due soon in individual packs, each with their own goofy accessory. But why bother finding two figures when, for just about the same price, you can get them both at once, with a bonus figure thrown in? this is one case where Mattel's three-pack is a better buy than the solo figs.
Which political buzzword would make for the dumbest superhero name today? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.