Song of the Blackhawks

Tonight’s post features issue 6 of the Bronze Age Secret origins series. The cover recycles one of my favourite images of all time.

It makes me absurdly happy even though the contents are a pretty mixed bag.

The Legion was saddled through most of the Silver Age with art that was either flat and stiff (John Forte), rather tame  attempts at psychedelia (Win Mortimer) or rehashed Flash Gordon, like Pete Costanza here. If it weren’t for Curt Swan and later Dave Cockrum, I wonder if I would have fallen for the Legion at all?

Also , as this issue painfully proves, the LSH had a staggeringly dull origin. They rescue a space zillionaire, who bankrolls their teen country club out of gratitude. That’s it. ENB had to create this one for the annual, since the LSH, conceived as supporting characters, had no real need of an origin. By the end of the story, the group has grown from three to five- still, hardly a legion. Doomed Legionnaire Invisible Kid breaks the fourth wall to invite the reader to a gala Legion wedding in Superboy 200,  the virtual peak of Cockrum’s brief but influential run. Like the Spectre issue last time, we have the sense that this book is being used to promote another one, as well as capitalising on the new-found enthusiasm for Golden Age reprints.

I think the answer is “Levitz Lad”

Ironically, the modernised version of this story is being re-told in a six-issue limited series and it’s still not interesting!  It’s also moving at a glacial pace, thanks to Eighties fan favourite, Paul Levitz. The cover copy to issue 3 reads “Will it all end too soon?” To which the answer is , sadly, no florging chance.

As I said in the Super-Spec posts, I first discovered Blackhawk in Bob Haney’s reviled New Blackhawk Era.

I still like the Golden Centurion and M’Sieu Machine is a cool name for a Gallic gadget-guy. However, I’m not hugely interested in fighter planes.

The Super-Spec reprints were exotic tales of high adventure- like glamorous Forties movies. This origin story opens with a striking splash page.  Blackhawk looks villainous (and somewhat camp). A simple but dramatic story of vengeance told in nine-panel grids. The images are tiny but the captions are moody and melodramatic. The nationality of Blackhawk is unclear. His murdered family die in a Warsaw farmhouse  but the names Jack and Connie don’t sound very Polish to me. The story also sets up the flyer’s secret island base. Despite that element, the story is more realistic than most Golden Age tales but it didn’t grab me.

The Blackhawks returned briefly a couple of years later- I read one issue in ’76 but wasn’t interested enough to follow it up. It addressed the fate of a shortlived Blackhawk named Boris; you can see why the Marvel-esque cover caught my eye.

Of course, the character was given the customary dark and edgy revision in the Eighties.

I’d enjoyed Chaykin’s  sexy, modern take on the Shadow but the prestige format Blackhawk series left me cold. I’m afraid war comics starring amoral adventurers are just not to my taste. If I had to read a Blackhawk comic, I’d prefer one by Cockrum.

I just read that the New 52 version of Blackhawk has been cancelled. Maybe they should have gone with a Lady B comic.

The Original Thinking letters page expands to two pages as ENB goes into minute detail over changes in the legends of Blackhawk and the LSH. Letters either praise the Vigilante or Kid Eternity- so why didn’t they both have ongoing new features in the Bronze Age? There’s also another letter from Jimmy McCoy- more about that tragic story another time.

Next: Superman’s All-Magic issue

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners.

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One comment on “Song of the Blackhawks

  1. Kid Robson says:

    Regarding the 80 page Giant Superboy, I got the replica edition when it first came out a few years ago, but I’m still looking for the next issue so that I can finish the story from the previous issue (if that makes any sense – I mean previous to the ‘Giant’). I’ve only been waiting since around 1968 or thereabouts, so I’m hoping one turns up soon.

    Blackhawk I could never really warm to.

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