Saturday, October 04, 2008

Single Issue Review: Blackhawk #148

This issue (May 1960) would seem very familiar to Batman fans because the editor at the time, Jack Schiff, was also in charge of the Caped Crusader's books. Check out the cover:

Not substantially different from the September 1961 issue of Batman:

In the opening story, Four Dooms for the Blackhawks, the Blackhawks visit a space research center, where scientists are attempting to recreate conditions in space and on other planets. The plot and setting for this story are direct swipes from Detective #208 (June 1954). Here's the cover of that issue:

And the similar situation in Blackhawk #148:

In the story the bandits are trying to steal a force field projector, but Blackhawk foils the scheme cleverly.

The second story, is another obvious swipe from an even earlier Batman comic. Here's the origin, complete with another classic "Suddenly something snapped in his mind" bit:

From Batman #55 (Oct-Nov 1955), we met another guy who couldn't stand bells:

In a memorable scene from that issue, the Gong lowers Batman and Robin onto a bell buoy where he assumes they will eventually tire and fall off; so too it is with the Bellmaster:

In the cover story, Blackhawk faces the Secret of the Flying Serpent. In this case the story appears original. Blackhawk and his men discover a hidden valley where the Aztecs still remain, now ruled by a corrupt archaeologist pretending to be Quetzalcoatl who has discovered a flying serpent (whose mutation was caused by radiation). The radiation angle is interesting; I'd have to look to see if there's an earlier example of radiation imparting superpowers. Certainly this predates the Marvel Silver Age, where seemingly every character under the sun got his powers from radiation (Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the Sandman, etc.).

The Blackhawks eventually defeat the phony Quetzalcoatl and the flying serpent dies in the battle. As noted earlier, a fairly similar story came up in Batman again a year later, with a flying serpent, a hidden valley (Mayan instead of Aztec).

Overall the stories are entertaining even if two were borrowed from earlier Batman adventures. The artwork, by Dick Dillin and Chuck Cuidera, is solid if uninspired; I'd much rather read these stories with their artwork than with Sheldon Moldoff, who did most of the Batman stories of the time.