I was writing last time about Steve Ditko’s most collectible comics, this time I want to take a look at one of his later creations. The Ditko characters of ‘Hawk and Dove’ will be making their first live action appearance later this year on the Titans series set to premiere on the DC Universe service. Although Ditko is, of course, best known for his work (with Stan Lee) on Spider-man and Doctor Strange, after leaving Marvel (mostly due to creative differences with Lee), Ditko continued working in comics creating and co-creating many original characters for both Charlton and DC.
Hawk and Dove were characters created by Ditko in collaboration with Steve Skeates in 1968. With the Vietnam War at its height, the characters may have been an attempt to capture the polarized state of opinions regarding that war. You would think that heroes meant to symbolize ideological positions would be bland or uninspired, but leave it to Ditko to imbue this odd-couple team of vigilante crime fighters with color and life.
The Hawk and the Dove were originally teenage brothers Hank and Don Hall. Bestowed with power by an entity known only as ‘the Voice’, the two brothers embodied two differing approaches to solving problems. When they shouted out the names of their guiding ideological worldview (‘Hawk’ representing aggressive forceful action, and ‘Dove’ peaceful resolution of problems) they became avatars for each of these two approaches to resolving problems.
Hawk, as his name implies, was the war loving aggressive one. He was basically ready to solve any problems through the use of force. Dove, by contrast, was the diplomatic resolution seeker. As a peace lover and quiet scholar Dove was the voice of non-violence among the pair. Together they were granted increased strength and special skills to combat evil and stand up against injustice. In later years the duo joined the Teen Titans and worked together until Don’s death during the Crisis event. Hank then worked on his own for a while before teaming with a new partner, the second Dove known as Dawn Granger.
In this issue of Showcase from 1968 we are introduced for the first time to the oddball team and told their origin story. Besides meeting Hank and Don, we are also introduced here to their conservative father, the honorable Irwin Hall a courtroom judge. The Hall family lives in the suburb of Elmond where the two brothers grew up and where their father works. After their father is targeted by mobsters, the boys are captured and given powers by a mysterious entity which they use to rescue their father. Unfortunately, Irwin Hall has no idea that these vigilantes are his sons and he denounces them and their methods. An interesting start for the duo. The crisp, kinetic, Dikto art throughout makes this a success. Best returns on this comic have been seen on 8.0 graded copies (% 95.4) and 9.6 (% 55), average market price on 8.0’s has been around $100.00 and 9.6 grades jump all the way to $800.00.
The sales on Showcase #75 must have been strong because within months the duo were given a solo title. The short lived solo series (cancelled after the 6th issue), saw an expansion of their adventures. In the premiere issue, the duo split up since Don, sensitive to his father’s criticism of their activity, decides to quit. Working alone, Hank soon finds himself in trouble when the ‘Drop Outs’ gang goes after him. This prompts Don to resume his identity as Dove and come to his brother’s aid. For some reason returns on this book have really taken off in recent years. Best sales have been on higher grades (8.0 which has seen % 239 return on investment and 9.6, the highest known grade, with % 278.2 return).