Blackhawks #1

Blackhawks

C

Guest post by: Craig Colbrook

Blackhawks was, I swear to God, one of the first comics I ever read. See, I got into comics because when my grandfather would visit, he’d bring me a whole stack of his old silver age DC books. They were all in terrible condition, yellowing pages and flaking covers, but fuck that, the important thing was that they were chock full of DC’s particular brand of 1960s insanity.

And for my money, none of these comics were more bugfuck than the Blackhawks. What you had in the Silver Age was a team of pilots gathered from the big Allied Countries in World War II. Okay, so they weren’t so much “pilots” as “stereotypes,” but that’s not the point. The point is, they all moved onto an island together, named their organization after the American pilot (because of course), hooked up with a woman who named herself after the American pilot, and proceeded to do only about three panels of flying each issue. But that’s okay, they were way too busy fighting awesome shit like War Wheels and Runaway Genies and some guy called the Hoopster who rode a flaming unicycle right at the team. HOW DID THEY EVER OVERCOME SUCH A THREAT?

Hot damn, I want to track down a Blackhawks Showcase right now! In the meantime, though, we’ve got Blackhawks #1, by Mike Costa, Graham Nolan, and Ken Lashley. Here, the ‘Hawks are a UN-sanctioned paramilitary organization tasked with… I don’t know, doing some damn thing involving metahumans and advanced technology.

There are a couple parts where it feels like Mike Costa actually has something to say — the way smartphones and the Internet make covert affairs impossible, Kunoichi’s “powers” plot line, the UN aspect — but I’m not really buying the stakes yet, especially not at the character level. But overall, everything makes sense and is believable, at least in the context of an action comic.

But that is all far, far less creative than the silver age ‘Hawks. Everything is so generic, I can’t tell more than three characters apart (and that’s because they’re the old one, the black one, and the girl). It basically feels cribbed directly from every Image comic you read in 1995, right down to the overly liney art.

That’s kind of the price you pay with events like this. Not to get all Grant Morrison on you, but each time you rewrite your fictional universe to make it more contemporary and streamlined, you’re going to lose some of these nutty concepts. That’s kind of the point, and I think that’s fine; I’m a Marvel guy at heart, I actually don’t bitch much about my comics getting “real.” But when that’s what you’re trying to do, it’s pretty weird to include the nuttiest of the nutty concepts in the event.

Now, let’s be clear: I don’t go in for all that “You ruined my favorite character!” crap. Even if the Blackhawks were my favorite comic, well, I really can go read an old Showcase, or track down back issues, or whatever. It’s just kind of sad that for now, we’re not getting anything as delightfully weird as those old books.

Pull list verdict: ON PROBATION

tags: blackhawks, graham nolan, mike costa, the new 52

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