While sidekicks have been around almost as long as superheroes, the trope of a female version of a male superhero, while common today (hi, X-23), was more rare during the Golden Age of comics.
While many female versions of male superheroes often come off like cheap gimmicks, there are some cases where they work out quite well. Such a one is Hawkgirl, whose alter ego, Shiera Saunders, was introduced in the same 1940 comic as Hawkman and became his high-flying partner a year later.
Shiera (later renamed Shayera in the Silver Age) was neither a sidekick nor a simple female version of Hawkman. She was his lover (later wife) and a full partner in his adventures, and her popularity has often rivaled or even eclipsed that of her significant other, particularly when Hawkgirl was made into a founding member of the animated Justice League.
Like Hawkman, Hawkgirl’s continuity is a mess. I won’t even try to summarize it, but suffice to say the current Hawkgirl’s real name is Kendra Saunders. The current status of Hawkman and Hawkgirl in the DC Universe–including their identities–is something of an ongoing question. This figure is unquestionably based on Shayera Hol, the Silver Age Hawkgirl, but the packaging bio is taken from the current Kendra Saunders Hawkgirl.
During ancient Egypt’s 15th dynasty, Princess Chay-Ara and her beloved Prince Khufu discovered a downed Thanagarian spacecraft. After their murder, the couple’s exposure to the ship’s anti-gravity Nth metal has destined them to be reincarnated through the ages and fight alongside the Justice Society of America.
Packaging: Once again, Mattel packages their figures with weapons in hand, and again, it weakens the figure’s grip. Actually, Shayera’s right hand is fairly tight, but her left hand can barely hold anything.
DCUC has its MOC collectors, but I think the majority of its fans open their figures, so Mattel should consider getting rid of the dynamic posing.
Sculpt: Hawkgirl is built on the same body as Wonder Woman (…I think…), with some new tooling. The most extensive new piece is the head. The look and texture of her hair is well done. Her earrings look a little strange until you get used to them–when I first saw them, I wasn’t sure what they were.
The wings appear to be a re-use of Hawkman’s. Since they were made for him, they’re fairly heavy on the much-thinner female body, and Shayera has a tendency to lean back–the included stand helps a lot here. (Too bad she doesn’t have the Power Girl chest–it might help counterbalance those wings. But I digress.)
Plastic & Paint: Paint quality on DCUC has been steadily improving (though oddly, it’s still not as good or consistent as it was on the DC Super Heroes line). Hawkgirl’s paint applications are solid, with no discernible slop or overspray, and like Hawkman, the dry brush on the wings is excellent.
Articulation: This is where Hawkgirl disappoints. In theory, she has the usual amount of DCUC articulation–ball joints at the neck and shoulders, swivel biceps, wrists, waist, and thighs, and hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles, and abdomen. There’s also a hinge on her back for the wings, and the wings themselves have hinges so they can be spread wide.
However, the neck articulation is completely hindered by the long hair, meaning all Shayera can really do is look forward and down. It really bugs me when a flying character’s figure can’t look up, and that’s been a recurring problem with DCUC–only a select few are able to do it well (Superman Red/Superman Blue, Firestorm, Hal Jordan). Even Wonder Woman’s head has a better range of motion than Hawkgirl’s.
The other problem is the abdomen hinge. It’s rather loose, and since the wings are so heavy, Hawkgirl tends to have the aforementioned tendency to lean back and fall backward. You’ll have to lean her fairly far forward on her ankles to get her to balance straight–that, or move her wings close up to her arms, which is less natural-looking.
Accessories: Hawkgirl is the headliner of Wave 8, and therefore she doesn’t have to share her bubble with any of Giganta’s disembodied parts. Instead she gets a stand and three, count ’em, three weapons: her trademark mace, a spear, and a dagger. They’re all well-sculpted and painted, and I think they look even better than Hawkman’s weapons.
Unlike Hawkman, Shayera has two open hands, which allows for some nice posing. However, her left hand has a weak grip, so most of the time you’ll just be placing it in position while the right hand actually holds the weapon.
One thing that would have improved this figure would be a peg somewhere on the belt to hang the mace–otherwise, why bother with the loop at the end?
Quality Control: Aside from the looseness of the abdomen joint and the weak left hand grip, I had no problems with Hawkgirl.
It’s important to remember Hawkgirl comes with three great weapons and features the same incredible wings that Hawkman does. That pushes her to a 4-raven figure.
If Mattel and the Horsemen had found a way to give her head a full range of motion and she’d had a tighter left hand grip, I probably would have awarded the full five.