Dawn is the Goddess of Birth and Rebirth. Her immortality has never been specifically explained, nor which if any specific pantheon of gods that she belongs to. As such her origin is left sufficiently vague and in that she could essentially be seen as a character which transcends the traditional confines of what defines a good so that she has a greater application to fantastical stories.
In some stories it is implied that she is the Virgin Mary, though her depiction in comics is not consistent with this. If this is indeed the case though, her background story would likely be consistent with that of the Bible character.
Dawn's publication history is somewhat unique as opposed to that of other comic book characters. Using the same technique later used in such series as Grimm Fairy Tales, the character was initially nothing more than pin-up inspired cover art which bore little relation to the interior content of her featured series (Cry for Dawn).
The drawing themselves were drawn by Joseph Michael Linsner. She was originally drawn with her hair always covering one eye (paying homage to a certain degree to Veronica Lake.) She was also often portrayed with blood red tears (often in streaks across her face.)
The character continued with the presentation for some time but was eventually incorporated into comics as a narrator of semi-horror related stories. She was also featured in Lucifer’s Halo which explored her development as a character in relation to Darrian Ashoka. After the success of this series she continued now both in the role of cover feature and as member of anthology horror stories.
Dawn’s first appearances coincided with the early development of the bad girl art. Her depiction was in line with a trend among comic book artists with the smaller independent comic book companies to display women in a lascivious and gratuitous pose. As Dawn’s earliest appearances were only in poses and not at all related to the interior of her comics, she could be considered an extreme example of bad girl art.
In terms of overall development, the character has not changed much in the course of her publication history. A lot part of this is due to the fact that for a significant portion of her publication history that she was not a fleshed out character, rather just the symbol of a series. She would later appear in other series such Return of the Goddess where she became an avenging angel against the witches of Earth and set herself the goal of protecting Earth against Lucifer.
Despite her presence here she continued to be displayed in a manner comparable to that of ancient gods, somewhat aloof and unchanging. This character did exhibit a lot more of emotion at this time though as a more violent side is evident in her, though as Linsner is both an artist and a writer, the true intention of the character is never lost as she had only ever been controlled by him.
It is said that she cries only out of her left eye in respect to the witches that worship her. Witches in this continuity are said to only be able to cry out of their left eyes, and so too does Dawn as a result.
During the Return of the Goddess Story Arc it is revealed that as a result of her godly nature, that she cannot bear children or give birth.
Major Story Arcs
Dawn’s first major story arc was in Lucifer’s Halo. In this the earliest aspects of Dawn’s character are given meaning. She is identified as the Goddess of Birth and Rebirth and her lover was Cernunnos, who was the god of Death. In becoming his lover she essentially adopted all things that were dying and evil. The typical three tears on her cheek are insinuated to because of this union, as it left a resounding effect on her persona and positive role as her association with Death took away her innocence.
Dawn seems to have an amicable relationship with a god (or perhaps insinuated to be God) though he identifies himself as Ahura Mazda (this name is derived from the Zoroastrian traditions.) She is aware of the relationship between Ahura Mazda and Lucifer. At one point Ahura Mazda and Dawn discuss the importance of obtaining Lucifer’s halo, and she agrees to a plan to take it from him. She is eventually able to get the halo off of Lucifer after Dawn journeys to Hell to discuss with him the acquisition of the halo. Dawn then reunites with Darrien and gives him Lucifer’s halo, though he is promptly attacked by angels wanting to obtain it.
The next major story arc involving the character was The Goddess Returns. It is revealed here that it is Dawn’s duty to guard over all the witches and protect the Earth. Due to worship from the witches of Earth her power grew stronger. Her lover Cernunnos was reincarnated into a human by the name of Darrian Ashoka who struggled through life in the New York City of the future, set in a post-apocalyptic world. He and his friend used to attack large groups of other residents in order to obtain their possessions. One day after one of the fights he happens across Dawn and decides to follow her. She for her part tries to convince Darrian that she knows who he really is, and that he realize his former place by her side. She goes so far as to sleep with him. He realizes that there is more to life than fighting and he seeks out a cathedral where he finds he must fight between finding who he is and finding Dawn.
In Return of the Goddess, she appears to a young woman named Mary. She was summoned to her by Mary’s best friend, another young woman named Bridget. The nature of the summoning was that Bridget was a witch and that her death alerted Dawn to the fact that another needed help. Dawn comes to Mary’s aid and seeks out those responsible for persecuting the witches, only to discover that it is Lucifer. It is revealed that Dawn was also at one point linked romantically with a being known as Ilmarinen. She eventually has to choose between him and Cernunnos and choose the latter.
In the story arc Three Tiers, she appears but only in passing as the series focuses on Darrian Ashoka’s journey to Europa following his experience with the halo of Lucifer. She has informed Darrian that the two cannot meet again until certain events have come to pass, which becomes true, although Dawn shows herself to him at various spots along his journey to remind him that she is there. This follows along with various predictions, and Darrian has sex with others that resemble her, including a younger woman, a queen and a prostitute.
Dawn later shows up in Witchblade comics where she is revealed to the Blade’s midwife.
Powers and Abilities
As a god and immortal Dawn's abilities reflect her divine origin. She has abilities related to birth much as other fertility goddesses do. She has proven adept at using a sword. She is immortal and can travel between the planes of existence with ease, including traveling between Heaven, Earth and Hell.
She is generally portrayed as an exceptionally attractive woman, though she meets the expectations of those that see her by changing her appearance correspondingly.
Her depiction is in line with many of the examples of bad girl art. Another factor which she has in common with them is her supernatural nature, though this is not common to them all, but does have similar themes as other such as Lady Death and Witchblade.