RetroFix: Delsante & Izaakse’s Spacehawk

Note: When the Project: Rooftop community finds a forgotten hero or villain in need of a rescue, it’s time for a RetroFix. This month: Spacehawk! Our guest artist is Sean Izaakse! – Vito Delsante

Who was the  Spacehawk?

“Spacehawk had but one mission in life — to protect the innocent throughout the Solar System and give out the occasional gruesome fate to vanquished evildoers such as aliens and space pirates like his childhood friend Galar. He lived in an unspecified future where space travel was commonplace. He was sometimes assisted in his war against evil by Captain Dakk, a police officer and friend of Spacehawk. (At some point in his run) Spacehawk arrived on Earth in the 1940s, centuries before his time. He also fought a few Hitler proxies until the United States entered World War II and he took on Hitler himself.”
- from http://pdsh.wikia.com/wiki/Spacehawk.

Why Spacehawk?

Vito: As creators, we’re used to seeing a blank piece of paper (or a canvas, or even a computer screen), and seeing a world of possibilities. Spacehawk, a character that appeared in 38 comics, is, from my point of view, a blank slate. Created by Basil Wolverton (a genius artist, in my opinion) in 1940, the character has a lot of potential. Cut to last November. I jumped into the 30 Character Challenge with a handful of characters, and figured I’d do some retrofixes at the same time. In the end, I made all of the characters open source, and entered all 35 of them into the creative commons. Spacehawk (or at least, my version of him) is no exception. So, the goal was to create a new version that took what came before with Basil Wolverton, but fill in the blanks for today.

Note: Read on for the RetroFix! – D.T.

The RetroFix

Vito: All I knew about Spacehawk was that he was from the future, fought Hitler and may or may not have been an alien.  There wasn’t even a list of powers. So, I came up with this:

Spacehawk was from an alien humanoid planet and came to our world to protect us from alien threats. He helped in the Allies war effort among other heroes of the day, but shortly after the Atomic Bomb was dropped, he disappeared into the heavens. As more atomic (and then nuclear) weapons were tested, Spacehawk found that the Earth itself was poisoned. He could no longer touch the ground for fear of dying (his alien physiology was susceptible to such radiation). He has returned, but as long as the Earth continues to destroy itself, he may never come back fully. He hovers and flies everywhere on Earth, and even has an Earthbound wife (an original creation I called Ladyhawke), but if he ever sets foot on the ground, his body will begin to deteriorate at a rapid rate.

So, we have a Superman analog, complete with a weakness that, more or less, explains his absence from Earth (and publishing) for all this time, and even gives him a purpose as a hero.

NOTE: Game designer, Sage LaTorra, was one of the first creators to use Spacehawk for his new RPG, Powers For Good. One of the things he did was made Spacehawk somewhat of a celebrity hero activist (kind of like Supes in Superman IV meets Bono).

Initial Sketches

Vito: When I contacted Sean, I gave him this Hero Machine-ized version as an initial sketch:

Vito: And here’s where I’ll hand it off to Sean because, honestly, when you see what he came up with, you’re gonna flip!

Sean: When I got a look at Spacehawk’s origin and Vito’s notes and saw his version of SH (done on the Hero Machine), I had some idea of what Vito wanted. It gave me a sense of colour scheme’s and general look. As an artist I often enjoy taking existing characters and see if there’s some way to improve what’s been done.

With Spacehawk, he was a Superman archtype, but I didn’t want him to look it, and to stay away from the traditional reds and blues of most heroes. I wanted his costume to look iconic without being too overly detailed, and also to have some kind of hawk motif and look like it had alien roots.

Sean: In the preliminary rough sketch I strated just roughing out the first ideas that came to my mind and some stayed others changed. The seam shapes and check design initially were going to go under Spacehawk’s arms and over his ribs, but then that ultimately changed. And the other more obvious things were the loff of the knee pads. I think that was way too 90′s, so I tossed that idea for a more sleek look.

Vito: It’s funny how things like knee pads and shoulder pads immediately evoke a time period, but I know what you mean.

Sean: The chest emblem and helmet are hawk inspired and I made them blocky. His helmet also kind of looks like the cheek guards are almost beak like while the “ear-wings” make it look almost like a crown, giving him that air of power. I thought making the seams of the costume in a different way would make it look alien in design, or at least, different. Adding to that alien look overall is the alien energy signature/blue glow from his chest which I thought would be cool to highlight whenever he was drawn in a silhouette. And with that we have an alien being that’s mysterious, iconic and heroic. I felt I pulled off what I’d set out to create.

Vito: Absolutely, Sean! You pulled it off so well, there were no additional notes to give.  So we present to you…the Final Version!

Final Version


Vito: It’s really amazing what you did, Sean. The color scheme stayed the same between the Hero Machine version and this final one, but it’s utilized differently. The thinking behind the logos and especially, the helmet, are one of the reasons why writers can’t do this without artists.

And there you go, everyone; a open source/Creative Commons character that anyone can use!  You’re welcome, world!

10 comments on “RetroFix: Delsante & Izaakse’s Spacehawk
  1. Hmmm. I like the new design as a costume design, but if you look at the original Spacehawk, he’s not a costumed hero, he’s a uniformed hero. His get-up looks to be strictly functional, without any overt decorative elements.

    So the new costume is nice, but — to me at least — it’s NOT Spacehawk.

  2. Very Marvel Cosmic look to it. Very cool. I’d like it even more with a little less colour, all the gold stuff is really nice.

  3. Jeff,
    Can I suggest that Hero Machine be called “Writer’s Little Helper?” In all seriousness, it’s great to see you here! As you can see, I used HM to get an idea, sent it off to Sean where he just went bananas…in a good way. Thanks for making such a great tool.

    Bruce,
    It’s our version of Spacehawk, but yes, it’s not exactly Wolverton’s.

  4. I am often disappointed with these retrofixes and as cool as the illustration is, I feel the same way about this one. As is almost always the case, what’s been created here is a visually new character and not an update of the old one.

    The original appears to be wearing a uniform as Bruce A. stated or even a form of spacesuit. He carries a gun. He is green and yellow, maybe green and gold. He has a helmet.

    Based on this I want to see a space adventurer in a green and gold armored space suit with a helmet and some form of hand held or suit mounted energy weapon. What I’m seeing is a superhero in a neat purple, green and deep turquoise costume with gold accessories and a cape and possessing unknown abilities. My eyes do not register these two characters as related in any way.

    Cool looking character but for me, it ‘does not compute’ as an update of the original Spacehawk.

  5. Perhaps you’re having trouble with the concept of our RetroFix column, Alien. It’s not a redesign, it’s a reimagining with the goal of creating a new character. Hope that clears things up.

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