Get to Know a Hero: Hawkgirl
Like The Atom, Hawkgirl is considered a legacy hero. Legends is focusing on Kendra Saunders and I will do the same, though this one gets a little more wiggy than some. Because reincarnation.
Name: Kendra Saunders (reincarnation of Shiera Saunders Hall)
Aliases: Kendra Munoz-Saunders
Born: Egypt, reign of Ramses II. Sort of.
Died: 1999, reincarnated with the spirit of Shiera Saunders Hall
Abilities: flight via nth metal wings, reincarnation via nth metal knife, superhuman strength, super acute vision, skilled at armed and unarmed combat, uses gravity defying nth metal belt
First appearance of Shiera Saunders – Flash Comics #1 (1940)
First appearance of Kendra Saunders – JSA Secret Files #1 (1999)
Affiliations: World Army, The Wonders of the World, JLA, JSA
Archaeologist Carter Hall has a dream. In this dream, he is Khufu, an ancient Egyptian priest. His lover is a woman named Shiera. The next day, Carter meets a woman who looks exactly like the woman in his dream who, perhaps not unexpectedly, is also named Shiera (I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor).
They die a lot. And they get reincarnated.
Shier eventually takes up residence in Kendra Saunders’ body.
Kendra is a trouble young woman whose parents were murdered; she attempts to commit suicide but, as her soul leaves her body, she is possessed by the spirit of her grandfather’s first cousin, Shiera.
Kendra retains her own memories, gaining only Shiera’s fighting ability, which creates friction with Carter, who remembers all of their past lives. They act as crime fighting partners, but don’t develop a deeper relationship for quite some time.
Kendra fights in the Rann-Thanagar War, fights Khimaera several times, and is abducted and put on trial by a group of rogue Thanagarians for crimes against her people (you can go digging for that part of the backstory if you’re interested). She escapes after discovering she could hover without her wings. After her escape, she became a member of the JLA.
Shaiera Saunders has since vacated the body, leaving it solely to Kendra.
During Blackest Night Kendra is murdered and then reanimated as a Black Lantern. The Atom and Hal Jordan use a White Lantern ring to resurrect both Hawkgirl, and Hawkman, who was also murdered, legitimately. After this resurrection, Kendra remembers all of her past lives and makes the leap to being that other sort of partner to Hawkman.
A journey to Hawkworld reveals that Kendra is the daughter of the Queen. Who promptly uses her newly discovered daughter as bait for Hawkman. Kendra and Carter triumph and are returned to their home, only to be interrupted in medius getting their kit off for a little celebration by Deadman, whose ring tells Kendra and Carter they must live apart for a time so as to learn to appreciate life more than they appreciate their love. Carter opens his giant mouth and refuses, inducing the ring to reduce both Carter and Kendra to dust (literal dust). Deadman orders the ring to resurrect the couple but it refuses, explaining that Kendra/Shaiera was brought back to overcome that which was holding her back in her past life (presumably Carter) because she is essential in saving the world (no pressure).
When Black Lantern Swamp Thing shows up, Hawkgirl and Hawkman pop up as air elementals who protect the Star City forrest from him. The elementals are fused with the body of Alec Holland to become the new Swamp Thing and defeat his dark side self, after which all of the elementals, with the exception of Kendra/Shiera, are returned to human form.
Hawkman is not amused.
New 52, Kendra is known as Kendra Munoz-Saunders. She is a treasure hunter who works for the World Army and had wings grafted to her back in Egypt under as yet unknown circumstances.
Sources: DC Comics Database, DC Comics Wikia, Wikipedia