WHY STEVE DITKO FLEW THE COOP
The Dove's future character development was thrown into doubt when Ditko abruptly left the title after only two issues. Surprisingly, neither office politics nor national politics had anything to do with his departure from the title. Plain and simple, he left due to health issues. Dick Giordano says that at the time, Ditko was "suffering from a lung ailment... I think, tuberculosis.” According to “The Comic Book Heroes” by Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs, “Steve Ditko's abrupt departure from Hawk and Dove and Creeper was necessitated by a bout of tuberculosis.”
Exactly what is tuberculosis? It's is a bacterial infection most often found in the lungs. Symptoms include coughing up bloody mucus from the lungs, as well as fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, fever, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath and chest pain. Treatment is often successful, though the process is long, taking between 6 and 9 months. This description makes is painfully clear why Ditko had to quit comics entirely for a period of time.
Ditko never returned to Hawk and Dove, although he did, of course, do voluminous other work following this series, and is still working today. Surprisingly, Ditko drew only three Hawk and Dove stories --the original Showcase origin tale and two others. His successor, Gil Kane, actually drew as many Hawk and Dove stories as Ditko!
DEVELOPING THE DOVE
Steve Skeates recalls, "Once Steve left and Gil Kane came, in I tried to bring the conflict to a head and change the direction of the book by making the Dove such a loser that he had to change. Gil never understood where the characterization was going and thought I was a raving hawk myself. I felt that the only way to solve the problem that had been set up in the series was to take it to its absolute worst and bring Dove to the breaking point and bring him back up from there."
Pictured below are two Skeates/Kane pages from Hawk and Dove #3 (January 1968) showing Don/Dove in the process of becoming"such a loser."