Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blackhawk #100

Commander Benson's been posting on the Blackhawk series under DC, and I happened to catch this particular comment:

In 1956, National Periodical Publications, a.k.a. DC Comics, acquired the rights to Quality Comics’ Blackhawk. The adventures of the “Magnificent 7” were still popular with the fans, even though more than ten years had passed since their heyday as World War II Nazi-fighters. So, while N.P.P. allowed most of the other Quality titles it had purchased to die quietly, keeping the Blackhawks in the air seemed to be a bankable proposition.

However, almost from the outset, National Periodical’s tinkering with a successful format would send the famed Black Knights plunging earthward.

I had not read much of the late Quality Blackhawk issues (which technically fall into the Silver Age by my definition), and so I thought it might be worth looking at this particular installment in this series. As a 100th issue, it's historically significant, since it was actually the second comic dedicated to a single feature to achieve that milestone, after Superman about a year earlier, and before Batman, the following month.

The opening story is the cover tale, The Delphian Menace. It's a pretty typical, "aliens attack Earth," scenario. Indeed, the ending is trite and a bit too obvious a swipe: the alien death machine which could not be defeated by any of our weapons, was beaten by water/rust.

So the story goes in as nothing special. The art?

Yeah, I'd call that pretty special. Note in particular how carefully and tightly drawn everything is by Dillin/Cuidera. One can deplore the depiction of Chop-Chop, while enjoying and admiring his strong character at the same time.

Anyway, the scientists do laugh at the Blackhawks when they present evidence of the new planet, since apparently they've been whooping it up at the scientist convention instead of paying attention to their telescopes:

This is definitely an area where the DC Silver Age would not have agreed with the direction of the Blackhawks at the time. The idea that the scientists could possibly be wrong? Not a common theme in Mort Weisinger's or Julie Schwartz's comics.

Overall an okay story, with spectacular artwork.

The second story has its moments artistically. The Nazis and the Japanese cooperated on an giant ship called the Hirumu, that was such a huge expenditure that each ally wanted an equal presence on board, and an equal vote. You can tell where Stan Lee would have taken that story, with the two supposed allies ending up battling each other, right?

But (Editor) Busy Arnold's uncredited (at GCD) writer gives us instead a story of the Nazis and the Japanese working together even after the war to cooperate in a (ten years later) plot to defeat the Blackhawks and then the world:

But they have created atomic power at the South Pole that is unshielded, and so they die when the Blackhawks jet away.

Comments: Mildly entertaining story, that depends on too many variables. I like the artwork a lot.

The third story is about Blackhawk assisting some rebels who are trying to overthrow a dictator named Scorpio. He looks a little like Dr Fu Manchu, but he's got a Caucasian queen:

He also has a pretty fearsome secret weapon:

The tail shoots out balls of lightning, which have a devastating effect:

Chuck manages to survive, but it appears that the rest of the team has been killed. He feigns death himself and tries to gather his strength to seek revenge:

Eventually he attacks, but the odds appear to great, until the rest of the Blackhawks suddenly revive. They defeat Scorpio and his wife, and the rebellion is successful.

Comments: Excellent story! I particularly like the part where Chuck is thinking to himself about his dead comrades. One interesting note is that both this and the second story feature Chuck much more than Blackhawk himself.

1 comment:

KF said...

Technically it was the 92 issue of Blackhawk.

Blackhawk took over the numbering from Uncle Sam Quarterly with issue 9 the first Blackhawk.