First Published: October 2008
Contents: Blackhawk #108 (January 1957) to #127 (August 1958)
Key Creator Credits: Dick Dillin, Charles Cuidera, Sheldon Moldoff, Dave Wood, and others
Who is Blackhawk?: Blackhawk, the leader of the team; Stanislaus, the team’s second-in-command; Chuck, the team’s communications specialist; Hendrickson, the team’s sharpshooter; André, the team’s demolitions expert; Olaf, a jack of all trades; and Chop-Chop, a sidekick of sorts for Blackhawk.
Overview: Meet the Blackhawk military squad. Initially created during the early days of World War II, the men of Blackhawk continue their fight during the Cold War era. Working from their hidden Blackhawk Island in the middle of an unnamed ocean, the Blackhawks are called on to stop rogue armies, super criminals, and monsters from the underground.
Each issue featured three stories, each generally eight pages long. In most cases they follow familiar formulas to wrap things up by the fifth panel of page eight. While the various characters get the occasional feature, the star of the book is obviously Blackhawk himself, who seems to be smarter and braver than all of the other members.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: I really had a hard time with this volume. There are very few known writing credits for these stories, and maybe that is for the better. There are many times where the character’s ethnic characteristics are overly exaggerated to be borderline racist. In particular, the handling of Chop Chop, the Chinese ex-patriot that speaks in broken English with stereotypical comments. I realize I am applying 2015 standards to comics created nearly 60 years ago. The book is important to show the historical origins of the group, but there are much better stories to read of the Blackhawks from the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Footnotes: Blackhawk was originally published by Quality Comics, with its debut in Uncle Sam Quarterly #1 (Fall 1941). The title was renamed Blackhawk with issue #9 (Winter 1944) and ran until issue #107 (December 1956), when Quality Comics ceased operations. Immediately, four titles were licensed out to DC Comics to publish (Blackhawk, G.I. Combat, Heart Throbs, and Robin Hood Tales). DC kept the numbering as well as the creative team on Blackhawk, immediately releasing issue #108 (January 1957). This Showcase begins with the start of the DC run of the title. Eventually, all of the Quality Comics properties were sold to DC, giving the publisher the opportunity to integrate characters such as Plastic Man, Uncle Sam, the Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, and others into the DC Universe.
If you like this volume, try: tracking down the first few years of stories from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Bear with me on this one! Some of the more interesting aspects of this Showcase was the time spent on Blackhawk Island, with their collection of their own weapons – tanks and planes and boats. In the early 1980s, Hasbro was preparing a new line of G.I. Joe toys, and contracted Marvel Comics to produce a supporting comic book to coincide with the toy line launch. The G.I. Joe comic was a smash hit, and the first two issues remained wall books for many years in comic book stores. Working with Hasbro, writer Larry Hama helped to develop characters and vehicles which would be used in both the comics and the toy line. The original G.I. Joe comic ran for 12 years at Marvel, and the property has been revived twice in the last ten years, first at Devil’s Due Publishing and later at IDW Publishing. The early issues of the Marvel line have been reprinted multiple times in multiple formats, by Marvel and IDW, so track them down. Yo Joe!