Saturday, January 4, 2014

Showcase Presents: Blackhawk, Vol. 1

Showcase Presents: Blackhawk, Vol. 1, collects Blackhawk #108-127 (Jan 1957-Aug 1958), the first 20 issues to be published by DC comics after acquiring the title from Quality Comics.

For the uninitiated, Blackhawk is the leader of the Blackhawks, a former WWII fighter squadron that now battles criminals and weird menaces around the world. Most of the seven members are from different countries, and, this being the '50s, are not much more than stereotypes.

As with most titles of the period, each issue of Blackhawk features three unrelated stories. There is next to no sense of continuity here apart from occasionally recurring villains like Killer Shark. This reprint volume usually lists the writers as 'unknown,' with the art by Dick Dillin.

There isn't much to talk about in the way of writing. The stories, despite sometimes involving such crazy concepts as a giant hand attacking Blackhawk Island or Blackhawk gaining superpowers, are often predictable and usually feel like they drag along. This is largely due to the fact that, outside of their accents and appearances, all the Blackhawks are basically the same. Characters keep repeating the other characters' names when they talk to them, presumably to help the reader remember who is who. It helps with characters like Stanislaus, who hardly gets any screen time, probably because he doesn't have as distinctive of an accent as most of the others, but everyone else is such a ridiculous stereotype that it would be impossible to mix them up.

Who could Chop-Chop be but the 3-foot-tall Asian guy? Who else would the German guy who says 'der,' 'vot,' and 'iss' instead of 'the,' 'what,' and 'is,' be but Hendrickson? Then there's Andre, the Frenchman who says 'ees' and 'ze' instead of 'is' and 'the.' Yes, it's pretty embarrassing. My favorite was Olaf, the musclebound Swede with the huge chin who often exclaims "Yumpin' yiminy!" and seems to replace random words with 'ban,' as in "I ban go outside," or "I ban hungry. I ban make a sandwich."

My favorite story was the one where the Blackhawks encountered female versions of themselves, also from different countries and with different accents.

Offensive to the max!

The art by Dick Dillin is a little more interesting, only because of the depictions of some of the weirder stuff the team encounters. There are lots of robots, advanced weapons, and occasionally even aliens for them to deal with. Other than that, the art isn't bad, but it is a bit static, with even action scenes usually being presented flat and straight on. Again, it doesn't help that we are looking at the same uninteresting characters the whole time.


As a fan of such things as Jonny Quest, where a group of characters investigate strange occurrences and battle international criminals and weird menaces, I expected to like this more than I did. Most of the right elements are there, it just needed better characters and not to focus so much on their accents. I don't plan on revisiting this volume any time soon, if ever, and I can't really recommend it to anyone else.

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