The Hawk and the Dove #1 (1968)

It’s very strange, some 35 or more years later, to read a comic book where the struggle between violence and non-violence is front and center. In this era of the Iraq war, violent video games and television cop shows, the question of violence has been settled and violence has won. Few if any people talk about non-violence as a means of persuading others. There may be argumentation or debate, but even the language of debate has changed – we talk about fighting for decisions, driving for conclusions, pushing for results. There’s so much less talk about working together to drive answers or striving to find higher solutions.
So it’s very strange to read a comic like The Hawk and the Dove from 1968. Hawk & Dove is the story of two brothers, one violent and one non-violent, who are given odd costumes by a disembodied, all-powerful voice. One reflects the violent brother’s inner life, turning him into a hawk-costumed fellow, and the other reflects the non-violent brother’s inner life and turns him into a dove-costumed fellow. But thats just the macguffin for the plotline. This comic was intended to not be an action series; instead, it was intended to reflect the times and depict the questions that were plaguing American society at the time.
As you might guess, this comic is horribly, horribly dated. The dilemmas are trite and dull, and the Dove really comes across as a real wimp. C’mon, I kept wanting to say, just fight back a bit, Dove. Don’t be a freak. In America, violence is a way of life. Just accept it and move on.
The great saving grace of the comic is the gorgeous Steve Ditko art. Ditko is probably best known for being the brilliant work he did on the first 38 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, and he applies his same eye to this series. Hank and Don Hall, the Hawk and Dove, are at least interesting-looking characters, and Ditko clearly enjoys putting them through their paces.
But overall the comic just feels creakily old.

One Response to “The Hawk and the Dove #1 (1968)”

  1. Ariel Says:

    The Teen Titans companion which Keith wants to slugfest later this month mentions this comic. I wonder where one goes about acquiring copies of these old comics? Are they in your personal collection or did you go on ebay or somewhere online to purchase them? It\’s interesting to see that a discussion of violence would be the theme, instead of straight fisticuffs and your regular super hero comic fare. Are there any reocurring villains??? I read the comic was short lived

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