Golden Age (1940-1952)
In the 1940s Shiera Sanders was the first Super Hero to go by the name Hawkgirl, but her story began long before that—in the days of ancient Egypt. Thousands of years ago an Egyptian woman named Chay-Ara and her lover, Prince Khufu, were killed by a priest called Hath-Set. The murder was committed with a knife forged from a mysterious alien substance called Nth metal. The strange energies of the metal, and the power of the couple’s love for each other, created a bond between them that transcended space and time, which caused their souls to be reborn multiple times throughout the centuries.
Chay-Ara was reborn in the early 20th century as Shiera Sanders. History then played out as it had centuries before. She was kidnapped by Dr. Anton Hastor, who himself was a reincarnation of Hath-Set. This time, however, she was saved by Hawkman, who was secretly archaeologist Carter Hall, as well as her reborn lover, Khufu. Shiera fell in love with her former flame all over again, and the two became a couple. Eventually she became the costumed adventurer Hawkgirl, and was given a costume similar to Hawkman’s, as well as a belt of gravity-defying Nth metal.
Like Hawkman, Hawkgirl fought against the Axis powers in World War II by joining the All-Star Squadron and the Justice Society of America. Shiera eventually married Carter, and the two had a child named Hector, who would grow up to become the Super Hero known as Silver Scarab. The first Hawkgirl’s home was originally known as Earth-Two, until the Crisis on Infinite Earths merged her timeline with that of Earth-One. Shiera later died when she merged with Carter and Katar Hol, the second Hawkman, to form a “hawk god” during the events of ZERO HOUR.
Silver Age (1961-1969)
The second heroine to call herself Hawkgirl was Shayera Hol, who was born on the distant world of Thanagar. While still a teenager, Shayera joined the Thanagarian police force, where she was assigned to train under Katar Hol, Thanagar’s most decorated police officer. Although the pair did not get along at first, eventually they fell in love and were married. A decade later, the couple were dispatched to Earth in order to capture the criminal known as Byth. On Earth, they established a base of operations in Midway City, whose police commissioner established cover identities for them as museum curators Carter and Shiera Hall. After bringing Byth to justice, Shayera and her husband decided to remain on Earth in order to study its crime-fighting methods. They began careers as the Super Heroes Hawkgirl and Hawkman.
Bronze Age (1970-1985)
Although Hawkman was inducted into the Justice League of America shortly after its formation, Hawkgirl was not at first due to a bylaw that required that all members of the team have unique powers. After assisting the League on several missions, the team changed its laws and inducted her into the JLA. She also changed her name from Hawkgirl to Hawkwoman. While she made a new life for herself on Earth, her homeworld of Thanagar had become a military dictatorship that began conquering other worlds. Hawkwoman and Hawkman stopped the Thanagarians’ plans to invade Earth, causing them to be branded as traitors and exiled from their native planet. The second Hawkgirl’s home was originally known as Earth-One, until it merged with the parallel world of Earth-Two and formed a new Earth.
In the altered timeline resulting in a new Earth following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Shayera Thal was a Thanagarian police officer who never married Katar Hol. Abandoned as an infant in the slums of Thanagar, she was taken in and raised by her grandfather. Shayera grew up and became a police officer, and she and her partner Katar Hol were sent to Earth as goodwill ambassadors after a thwarted invasion in which Thanagar participated. The two were assigned to the Chicago Police Department and adopted the identities of Hawkwoman and Hawkman. Eventually Shayera retired from adventuring and became a regular police officer in Detroit, before returning to Thanagar and enlisting in its army. She was murdered by the Tamaranean queen Komand’r during the Rann-Thanagar War.
During the post-Crisis era, another heroine emerged who took the name Hawkgirl. This was Kendra Saunders, a troubled young woman who had committed suicide. When Kendra’s soul departed her body, the soul of Shiera Hall, the Golden Age Hawkgirl, entered it. Her grandfather, who was once the adventurer called Speed Saunders (Shiera’s cousin), realized what had occurred, mainly based on the sudden change in her eye color. From this point on, Speed Saunders encouraged his granddaughter to follow in his cousin’s footsteps as the new Hawkgirl. Although she still believed she was Kendra, as she had all of Kendra’s memories, she used the original Hawkgirl’s costume and equipment and joined the newly reformed Justice Society of America.
Her arrival was a shock for Hawkman (Carter Hall), since he remembered all of their past lives together and Kendra did not. Nevertheless, Hawkman believed they were destined for each other. Although she worked alongside Hawkman as his partner, it took a long time for Kendra to admit her attraction to him. This Hawkgirl eventually joined the Justice League, and sometimes worked with the Birds of Prey, in an effort to forge her own identity. Shortly after Hawkgirl finally admitted her love for Carter Hall, the two were murdered, and their corpses were reanimated as members of the Black Lantern Corps during the events of the Blackest Night. The pair were then resurrected by White Lantern energy. But upon being reborn, Kendra was fully Shiera Hall once again, and remembered all of her previous lives.
The New 52 (2011-2016)
After the continuity-altering events of 2011’s FLASHPOINT, Shayera Thal was alive once again, and a winged warrior once more. In this new timeline, she was a Thanagarian princess and the fiancée of Katar Hol, who would become the post-FLASHPOINT Hawkman. Her brother Corsar took the throne and framed Katar for attempted murder, resulting in his accidentally shocking himself to death. Shayera believed Katar had killed her brother, and ordered her men to arrest him for murder, but he managed to escape.
Shayera tracked Katar to Earth, where she captured him. Although Shayera was able to capture Katar, she soon learned that her brother Corsar had faked his death in order to frame her great love. Realizing that she had wronged Katar, she let him go, and went off to fight her brother. The two were on board his starship when it exploded, presumably killing them both. In this timeline, Shayera never actually took the name Hawkgirl or Hawkwoman.
Another Hawkgirl emerged in the post-FLASHPOINT Multiverse, this time on the world designated as Earth-2. On this world, the despot known as Darkseid invaded and laid waste to a significant portion of the planet, killing its only heroes. Five years later, a new group of heroes emerged, and among them was Kendra Munoz-Saunders. An adventurer and treasure hunter, she was recruited by Earth-2’s World Army for a secret project in Egypt, which resulted in the permanent grafting of wings to her back. She was asked to explore the tomb of Nabu, and when she did, she found herself mysteriously changed. As Hawkgirl, she later joined that world’s Flash, Green Lantern and other heroes as the Wonders of the World.
After the events of 2016's DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1, Kendra Saunders reappeared as Hawkgirl, although her backstory differed from her pre-FLASHPOINT origin, or the Kendra of Earth-2. In this timeline, Kendra was also once Chay-Ara in a previous life. But this Kendra was the leader of the Blackhawks -- a team working to stop the apocalypse -- as well as a member of the Council of Immortals, a gathering of the oldest known beings on Earth. It was she who warned the Justice League of the invasion of the Dark Multiverse and later worked with the League to stop this invasion. Upon the reorganization of the Justice League, she was asked to join by the Martian Manhunter.