Dig It! The NEW Blackhawk Era!
There's a story about Alan Moore that goes something like this: When he was around seven or so, he was staying home sick from school when his mom offered to pick up some comics while she was out shopping. At the time, the only DC comic he'd never read was Blackhawk, so that's what he asked for, although he couldn't remember the name, so he just asked for a comic with four or five characters in blue suits. Mother Moore, in typical mom fashion, came home with the wrong comic: A Lee/Kirby issue of Fantastic Four, and young Alan's mind was blown forever.
It's a good thing, too, because if he actually would've gotten a copy of Blackhawk, there's a strong possibilty that he never would've read comics again.
Or at least, that's the conclusion I've come to after slogging through 1967's bold experiment in cross-genre revamping, The New Blackhawk Era.
The whole thing starts in Blackhawk #228's "Junk-Heap Heroes," which--unless I miss my guess--was an attempt to save the book from cancellation by turning everyone's favorite Polish war hero and his crew into a team of super-heroes. It doesn't work out, despite the fact that it's all written by my main man Bob Haney, mostly due to the fact that the Blackhawks become the worst super-heroes in the history of comics.
But more on that later.
All you really need to know is that it's rough. How rough? Well, I couldn't make it through more than six issues, and lest you forget, last week I read an entire run of Extreme Justice.
The strange saga begins with most of the Justice League going to the President and, in one of the all-time dick moves of comics, telling him that the Blackhawks suck and need to be forcibly retired, a sentiment that Batman expresses in an odd sequence of leftover Metamorpho dialogue:
When a man who spends the majority of his time beating up clowns and brooding in a cave tells you that you can't swing, you may have a problem. A problem that can apparently be solved by some good-natured racism:
Before we move on, I'd just like to point out that, yes, that's a giant metal spider robot that Blackhawk's using as a teaching aide as he attempts to modernize the 'Hawks for the grim and gritty world of 1967. It may not be his best work, but it's still Bob Haney, dammit. But anyway.
It may seem odd that Olaf's heritage comes under fire so much, but I figure they had their actual racism covered with Chop-Chop, who, in case you missed it, is named Chop-Chop. Me, I think it comes from the fact that Olaf is one of the most annoying characters in the history of comics. Even among an entire team of characters whose nationalities are defined by little more than facial hair and ridiculous accents, his dialogue is a frigg'n chore, full of unnecessary use of the word "ban" and his trademark epithet "Py Yiminy!," which no one has ever used ever.
Like I said, rough. But it manages to get rougher, when the New Blackhawk Era is kicked into full gear with the Worst Super-Heroes In History:
The best thing about this cover is that I don't even have to explain why this was a terrible idea. You can just look at it. Two things I'd like to point out, though:
Stanislaus's "Golden Centurion" armor is taken from worldwide criminal "The Emperor" after Stan, the Big Moose of the Blackhawks, drowns him and then pries the armor off of his dead body, at which time he starts killing the Blackhawks' enemies by blasting them with molten gold. Say what you want about today's comics, that shit is harsh.
And secondly, "The Listener." Jesus, Bob Haney, what made you think that was going to go over well? A word to the wise, chums: If your book's reduced to putting a war character into a pair of pajamas covered in little drawings of ears, it's time to let it go.
Ah, the Silver Age.