I certainly give DC credit for diversifying their line by tapping into existing properties that haven’t really been exploited in years (decades even), such as ‘I, Vampire,’ ‘Men at War,’ and ‘All-Star Western.’ ‘Blackhawks’ joins that roster as well.
Originally published by Quality Comics in the 1940s, the original ‘Blackhawk’ series followed a team of pilots from various nations, battling in World War II. Like ‘Men at War,’ the new ‘Blackhawks’ is set in the present and as such focuses on a G.I. Joe-like international team of soldiers and pilots, funded by the United Nations and based out of a mountain top base called The Eyrie. The book focuses on a group of Blackhawks mid-mission, battling terrorists. One of the Blackhawks, a woman named Kunoichi, showboats and is almost killed, but saves herself by the skin of her teeth. She’s bitten by a terrorist and then falls into a radioactive reservoir, which has major results later.
Kunoichi is the only character that really gets any development in the first issue. It is later revealed that she is sleeping with her teammate Wildman, but wants to keep it secret. She appears to be infected by “nanocites” and that has some startling consequences. Overall, she comes across as reckless and tough, but it felt a little hollow. I guess she was supposed to be an empowered female character, but Costa doesn’t bother making her likeable, so I’m not really all that concerned with what happens to her.
And unfortunately, the whole book is seemingly hinging on her. There are other characters, but none of them really gets much of a spotlight. The team’s leader is named Andrew Lincoln, but he barely appears. Some of the Blackhawks have confusing code names, like The Irishman. Obviously with a name like that, I “read” his voice with an Irish accent. It’s later explained that he is from the Ukraine, and is only called The Irishman because of his red hair. Another member is from Atlanta, but is called “Canada” because of some experience at a bar in Calgary. It’s really strange and unnecessarily complicated. I guess the writer, Mike Costa, was going for “in-jokey,” but it just felt clunky. There’s a character named Lady Blackhawk, but she has black hair and an eyepatch, so presumably she isn’t Zinda Blake, the original Lady Blackhawk who recently appeared in ‘Birds of Prey.’
This book is pretty much just ‘Blackhawks’ in name only. There’s no reference to the original team. I don’t even know if the originals still exist in the new DC Universe. Their base is different. They don’t even really seem all that aircraft-oriented. They’re just kind of generically military. It’s essentially a tepid G.I. Joe knock-off. Nanocites or nanites or whatever you want to call them, are one of the most over-used plot devices in the past couple of years. If I never read another comic that uses them, it’ll be too soon. The art, layouts by Graham Nolan and finished art by Ken Lashley is appropriately gritty. It flows well, is consistent and suits the book.
I was really into ‘G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero,’ growing up, the cartoon, the comics and the toys. I love Garth Ennis’ vaguely militaristic ‘The Boys’ comic. War and military-themed comics can work, but this one felt trite, derivative and dull. There’s just nothing here that makes me want to read any more. Comics should be more than super heroes, but I’m not a fan of this or ‘Men at War,’ so I think DC is missing an opportunity here. If only their military books were working as well as their horror books.
Written by Mike Costa
Layouts by Graham Nolan
Finished Art and Cover by Ken Lashley