Created by Geoff Johns, James Robinson and Stephen Sadowski
NAME + ALIASES:
Kendra Shiera Saunders
Michael and Trina Saunders (parents, deceased), Mia (daughter), Cyril "Speed" Saunders (grandfather), Shiera Hall (Hawkgirl, great-aunt, deceased), Hector Hall (Dr. Fate IV, cousin, deceased)
Justice Society of America, Justice League of America, The Birds of Prey
JSA Secret Files #1 (Aug. 1999)
Kendra Saunders is the most recent reincarnation of Princess Chay-Ara of ancient Egypt. Chay-Ara and her husband, Khufu were murdered by a blade made from the Thanagarian "Nth metal." This mystical death cursed their souls to eternal reincarnation (as well as the souls of some of their enemies). But Kendra was different among those in this legacy she was not born with the soul of Chay-Ara.
Kendra was a troubled youth and was tormented by the murder of her parents. When she was sixteen she became pregnant and gave the baby girl, Mia, up for adoption. Kendra stays in touch with Mia's adoptive family and on rare occasions will visit her daughter, though the girl does not know she is her mother. (JSA All-Stars #2) Later in her teens, she attempted suicide and succeeded. But at that very moment, Chay-Ara's soul vacated its previous host and took root in Kendra's body. It was cosmic fate that Chay-Ara's previous host, Shiera Hall (Hawkgirl I) died at the same moment that Kendra committed suicide. (Kendra was also Sheira's grandniece.)
Kendra awoke from the suicide attempt with all of her own memories intact, but with none of the memories of her past lives. She knew something strange had happened because her eye color changed from brown to green. Her grandfather, Cyril "Speed" Saunders immediately recognized what had happened and began training Kendra to become the new Hawkgirl. (Sheira Hall was Speed's cousin.) (JSA #22)
She had a rocky start at adventuring; her first mission was to protect the infant who would become the new Dr. Fate. Ironically, it was Sheira's reincarnated son, Hector Hall whom Kendra was saving. This brought her into conflict with the Justice Society. Things were soon ironed out and Kendra joined the JSA. Soon after that, she helped recall the soul of Chay-Ara's lost beloved, Khufu, back to life in the form of Carter Hall (Hawkman). (JSA #23)
But in this life, Hawkman's return did not spell a rekindled romance for the Hawks. Partly because of her fragmented memories, Kendra rejected her "destiny" as Khufu's soul mate and spurned Carter's romantic advances. Regardless, they relocated to St. Roch, Louisiana and began exploring their relationship on new terms. (Hawkman v.4) Her prowess in battle not only gained her quick acceptance into the JSA, but into the JLA as well. Kendra was recruited by a robotic servant of the Batman to join the JLA when the main team was believed dead. In truth, the JLA had been lost in ancient Atlantis. Hawkgirl aided in finding the core JLA and then left the team. (JLA #69-75)
Hawkgirl suffered a couple severe injuries within a short time. First, when the JSA encountered the undercover Justice League Elite, an accident forced Kasumi's blades into Kendra. (JL Elite #6) Not long after healing from this, she fell victim to a rogues gallery of Hawkman's old foes led by the Fadeaway Man. (Hawkman #x-46)
Kendra and Carter eventually did grow closer together, but cosmic events conspired to obstruct their destiny. When Thanagar went to war with the planet Rann, the Hawks were summoned by Adam Strange to help stop the conflict. (Hawkman #46) Strange hoped the Hawks could successfully mediate between sides, but Carter and Kendra were forced to ally with Adam against Thanagar. There, they were reunited with the Thanagarian Hawkwoman, Shayera Thal, who joined them against her own people. (Rann-Thanagar War #1-2)
In the escalation, they discovered that Thanagar was being led by the resurrected Onimar Synn and Shayera was killed by Blackfire, who sought to claim Rann for her own people. (#5) Eventually, the Hawks and their allies were able to defeat Synn, but they had no time to celebrate. Not only did Thanagar intend to continue its plans of conquest, but a great cosmic rift opened up in the Polaris (Thanagar's) galaxy. (#6) The Hawks enjoyed only a brief rest from battle — at which time they consummated their feelings for one another. (Hawkman #49)
Hawkman ultimately decided to remain on Thanagar to help with reconstruction, and Kendra returned to Earth. En route, she was caught alongside other heroes when the giant rift collapsed. One group, including Kendra was returned to Earth via a Zeta Beam-like transmission. This was intercepted in Western Australia, and when Hawkgirl arrived, she had become 25 feet tall! (52 #4-5) She was soon restored to normal with the help of the likes of Dr. Mid-Nite. (#33)
In Carter's absence, Kendra began delving more intently into Egyptology for herself. She undertook all Carter's administrative duties at the Stonechat Museum and managed to turn it into a successful tourist attraction. Without her "other half" around, Kendra was targeted by her ancient enemy, Hath Set, who began a campaign to end the cycle of reincarnation for Chay-Ara for good. (Hawkgirl #50)
In Hath-Set's most recent incarnation as Roderic Doyle, he began by putting financial pressure on the Museum itself. (#51) Kendra, meanwhile, was aided in dreams by the Egyptian cat goddesses, the Handmaidens of Bast, (#52) and by visions of her cousin, Sheira Hall. (#55) Doyle became a victim of his own schemes and was swallowed by an otherworldly god called "The Maw." (#56) After this, he returned as a disembodied force capable of possessing any number of individuals.
Hawkman's eventual return from Thanagar coincided with the arrival of Blackfire on Earth. Unbeknownst to Kendra, Carter had returned earlier with no word, leaving a "testament pod" with evidence against Blackfire in Kendra's office at the museum. Blackfire learned of this and gathered a hit squad to pursue them both. Kendra discovered the testament pod and ran up against Blackfire herself. Together, she and Hawkman captured Blackfire and removed her powers with the alien Absorbascon. (#57-59, JSA Classified #21-22)
A true reunion was not in the cards for these ancient lovers. Kendra was still being warned by the spirit of Shiera Hall to break the Hawks' pattern of death and rebirth. To this end, Kendra gave Carter the cold shoulder and the couple separated. (Hawkgirl #60)
Both Kendra and Carter dealt with their break-up by returning to teamwork. While Carter rejoined the Justice Society, Kendra took part in the first case of the newly reformed Justice League and joined thereafter. (Justice League of America v.2 #1-7) She instead received the attention of her fellow JLAer, Red Arrow. She also signed on as a freelance operative for Oracle's Birds of Prey. Her first mission for Oracle involved the rescue of Ice in Azerbaijan.
In her personal life, Kendra made it her first priority to end the threat of Hath Set for good. She delved into her museum's records, looking for ancient evidence of Hath Set. This led her to a museum in Gotham City where the Batman helped her unearth more records of his past. The path then led to Metropolis... (Hawkgirl #63-64)
Kendra Saunders was reinvented with DC's "New 52" initiative in 2011. Read about her here...
Hawkgirl was a main character on the Justice League animated cartoon, though this character was the Thanagarian, Shayera Hol.
Hawkgirl benefits from the antigravity power of the Thanagarian "Nth metal." Its primary use is to permit flight. To navigate in the air, she uses a sophisticated set of mechanical wings. The Nth metal has other properties. Prolonged exposure to the metal has imbued Kendra with a measure of unaided flight, as well as extra strength and invulnerability. She can also exert mental control over her wings
She employs a number of weapons as well, ranging from ancient to high tech. Many of these come from Carter Hall's private collection. The Batman has referred her to a man named Mole, who makes custom-designed weapons.
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
- 52 #4, 5, 35
- Action Comics #837
- Birds of Prey 104-105
- JLA #69-75
- JSA Classified #21-22
- Justice League Elite #6
- Hawkman v.4, #1-49 (2002-2006)
- Rann/Thanagar War, 6-issue limited series (2005)
- Hawkgirl, #50-66 (2006-07)
- Justice League of America v.2, current (2007-11)