Monday, October 08, 2007

Hawkaaaaaa!

It's a lovely day outside. Trouble on the horizon, still, but good stuff coming from the other direction.

Anyway, one of my timeless obsessions is Blackhawk. Breezy early fall afternoons are perfect for Blackhawk, doncha think?

One thing I dig about the Hawks is all the different phases they've gone through over the years.

The Quality Blackhawks ran from the early forties into the mid-fifties:






Then, DC picked up the ball, and carried it in roughly the same direction for a few years (the most noticable change being the toning down of Chop-Chop, from HOLY SHIT! offensive racist caricature to only slightly offensive racist caricature):


Eventually, DC shook things up slightly by putting the "Black Knights" (who actually wore blue) in new uniforms. This was one of the first issues I ever stumbled across, in a little antique shop in Mt. Vernon, Iowa:


Then, the superhero boom hit, and DC made what could only be called a slight miscalculation by turning the Blackhawks into not just superheroes, but really, really lame superheroes:



After about a year of that stupidity, the long-running book ended on a high note, with two really cool old school Blackhawks stories, featuring art by the tragically underrated Pat Boyette:


After a few years of inactivity, a new version showed up, continuing the numbering from the earlier series, but set in the present (with aging Blackhawks in hip new uniforms):


That lasted roughly a year, and then the Blackhawks disappeared for almost ten years. They finally re-emerged in what a lot of people think is the best version of the group, generally written by Mark Evanier and drawn by Dan Spiegle.

Some pretty cool Howard Chaykin covers foreshadowed his future involvement in the mythos:


The end of that last run signaled the end of the original numbering for good.

In 1988, Howard Chaykin debuted his revisionist Blackhawk prestige format mini-series:



That book was followed by a spot in the short-lived ACTION COMICS WEEKLY, with a post-war Blackhawk, written first by Mike Grell, then by Marty Pasko, and drawn largely by Rick Burchett. Grell's Blackhawk was basically a womanizing drunk, which wasn't quite how Chaykin portrayed him:

The series wrapped up, but was quickly brought back once it became evident it was the most popular of the new ACTION COMICS WEEKLY features. During the thirty-nine issue run of the book, Blackhawk was spotlighted on five covers. An interesting array of artists drew those five covers: Kyle Baker, Alex Toth, Joe Orlando, Joe Quesada(!), and Murphy Anderson.

The success of the ACW feature led to a brand new BLACKHAWK book:

While it was certainly uneven (Pasko was replaced by Doug Moench in the last few issues, and it just got ridiculous), by and large I think the new book was pretty entertaining, and introduced some interesting new characters to the cast. However, it only last sixteen issues (plus an annual).

Finally, out of the blue, in 1992, a BLACKHAWK SPECIAL appeared, written by John Ostrander. I hightly recommend tracking this one down. Good Ostrander espionage stuff as the early sixties Blackhawks track down the motive behind the murder of Andre, who's left the group to work for Kennedy:



So, yeah. Sixty plus years of Blackhawk, but fifteen since we last saw the gang together.

Too sad.




3 comments:

Mellon said...

is this just reminiscing, or a bit of a hint as to what you're up to?

-mellon

B. Clay Moore said...

For now it's just reminiscing. But you know I'm dying to tackle Blackhawk.

Mellon said...

that'd be bitchin'. i've always had an affinity for the chaykin run. i'll have to look up the pasko stuff, i wasn't even aware of it.

-mellon