Hawkwoman is the name of several fictional superheroines all owned by DC Comics and existing in that company's DC Universe. They are partners, and sometimes spouses or lovers, of the various versions of Hawkman, and share many features with the character Hawkgirl.
She was born on Thanagar, a planet orbiting the star Polaris. Thanagar had a scientifically advanced civilization in which crime was virtually unknown. As an adolescent, Shayera joined the Thanagarian police force and was assigned to assist the force's most decorated officer, Katar Hol, in capturing the Rainbow Robbers. At first, Katar was furious at being assigned an inexperienced young woman as a partner, but he nevertheless became strongly attracted to her.
Together, they captured the Rainbow Robbers in their stronghold found behind a waterfall; while on the case, Shayera saved Katar's life and the two fell deeply in love. A few weeks later, Katar proposed to Shayera in front of the same waterfall. She accepted and they were married. Ten years later, the couple was sent to Earth in pursuit of the criminal Byth Rok. Upon reaching Earth, they were befriended by Midway City police commissioner George Emmett, who established cover identities for them as Carter and Shiera Hall. After capturing Byth and bringing him back to their planet, Katar and Shayera chose to return to study Earth's crimefighting methods, and they fought against evil as the superheroes Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Shayera renamed herself Hawkwoman in the early 1980s.
As Hawkwoman, Shayera eventually joined her husband as a member of the Justice League. She was the first League member admitted as part of the League's vote to lift its prior twelve-member limitation, which had effectively prevented the admission of more women to its ranks. Her membership set precedent for the admission of Zatanna as the League's fifteenth member.
As Shiera, she first worked as Carter's secretary, but later became co-director of the Midway City Museum. She has a sort of rivalry with the museum naturalist Mavis Trent, who has her eyes on both Hawkman and Carter Hall.
Later, Thanagar had established itself as a military dictatorship bent on conquering other planets. Hawkman and Hawkwoman thwarted Thanagarian plans to invade Earth, destroying their own starship in the process. Hawkman and Hawkwoman remain on Earth, regarded as traitors by everyone on Thanagar. She helped her husband come to terms with the deaths they caused during the battle.
Following the events of DC's miniseries, Crisis on Infinite Earths, the histories of Earth-One and Earth-Two are merged together. As a result, both Golden Age and Silver Age versions of Hawkman and Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman live on the same Earth. Initially, the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman were kept in continuity unchanged, and they briefly joined Justice League International. However, DC reversed this decision and rebooted Hawkman continuity after the success of the 1989 Hawkworld miniseries. Originally, Hawkworld retold the origins of Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman. After becoming a success, DC Comics launched a Hawkworld ongoing series set in the present resulting in a complete reboot of Hawkman continuity. By doing so, several contiuity errors regarding Hawkman and Hawkwoman's Justice League appearances needed to be fixed.
When Charlie was four years old, Thanagar called Andar to active duty, so he joined the Justice League International claiming to be Carter and Shiera Hall's son Carter Hall, Jr. Andar never told the Thanagarian Empire of his own son, so they mindwiped Sharon, forcing her to take the identity of Hawkwoman Sharon Hall, wife of Carter Hall Jr.
When she was ten, she first met Wingan ensign Katar Hol during his first mission to the Thanagarian ghettos. Her mother was killed in a terrorist bombing.
When Shayera lost her Downside guardian as a result of a police action she was sent to an orphanage in the High Towers. Here she was found and adopted by Thal Provis, whose grief over the loss of his own daughter, had led him to find and reclaim his granddaughter. She was unaware Provisl was really her grandfather until much later.
As a young woman, Shayera became a Wingmen and eventually meets Katar Hol again. She helped him stop Byth's drug smuggling.
In the early 1990s, Thanagarian policemen partners Katar Hol and Shayera Thal arrived on Earth (following an attempted Thanagarian invasion of Earth) with the mission to capture the Thanagarian shape-shifting criminal Byth. They were part of a force which used the hawk as their symbol, and also had a winged, gravity-defying harness. Together they fought crime on Earth and corruption on Thanagar for some time, eventually falling in love and deciding to remain on Earth and build a life there rather than return to their homeworld. Then came the events of Zero Hour where Katar was merged with Carter and Shiera Hall in a new Hawkman version, who was then possessed by a creature from the red known as the Hawk Avatar. Fundamentally changed, he swore off his relationship with Shayera, and she retired from superhero work to become a cop in Detroit. The "new" Hawkman adventured for a brief time before going insane and being banished into limbo.
Shortly after that, Kendra Saunders became the new Hawkgirl, and Carter Hall, the original Hawkman, was resurrected. Shayera met them during her final battle against Byth when the three Hawks, aided by Animal Man, defeated the Thanagarian criminal for good.
In the Rann-Thanagar War miniseries, Shayera Thal reappeared as a reinstated soldier of the Thanagarian Army, last seen fighting with the invasion force of Polara. She considered reborn Hawkman Carter Hall and Hawkgirl Kendra Saunders friends of Thanagar, but grew angry with their ally Adam Strange blaming Rannian science for the destruction of her birth world. Despite this, she reluctantly served alongside him as a comrade-in-arms during the war.
In Rann-Thanagar War #5, Shayera was betrayed and murdered by Tamaranean Queen Komand'r. Her body was sent on a trajectory into Thanagar's sun, Polaris, the heroes' resting place in Thanagarian tradition.