I was surprised to see “Blackhawks” among the collection of solicitations for the DC relaunch. My experience with Blackhawk has been mostly shaded by Howard Chaykin’s 1980s miniseries and the appearances of Lady Blackhawk in “Birds of Prey.” There were occasional mentions of Blackhawks in other comics, including during the “Our Worlds at War” event spearheaded by Jeph Loeb back in 2001. My dad and I have had conversations about Blackhawk, as that is a comic he fondly remembers from his childhood.
This just seemed like a perfect confluence of events to me as the relaunch offered up an opportunity to meet the Blackhawks and check out something that I’d been personally clamoring for from DC Comics. After all, they had done such a great job giving “Jonah Hex” a chance to find a market, shouldn’t “Blackhawk” get the same chance?
This comic is “G.I. Joe” meets “Sgt. Rock” plus “Checkmate,” with a whole mess of Blackhawk stickers slapped on everything. There are a number of characters introduced in this issue, and in keeping with the “G.I. Joe” theme, I believe the “G.I. Joe Command Files” portion of the backer card from the 1980s Hasbro action figure series offered up more information for each character than the reader is able to glean in this issue.
That doesn’t mean the issue is short on action. Mike Costa opens the story up with a hostage situation, which quickly gives the Blackhawks a chance to prove their teamwork and readiness against a foe, just in time for the reader to see. There are a handful of operatives introduced in this issue, and all have codenames. I’d like to say each has a personality to match his or her codename, but Costa just doesn’t have enough real estate in this issue to get that deep for each of the five. Kuniochi -- a spry young lady with an inexplicable midriff-cut battle suit -- is the primary focus of this issue and appears to have some adventures centered around her coming up in future issues.
The art, by Graham Nolan and Ken Lashley, becomes such a weird synthesis of their styles that I’m not completely certain I’ve seen enough of it to pass judgment. It’s sketchy and rough, but the storytelling is clear and strong. As with other comics that feature military battles or vehicular adventure, some of the pacing is off. Car chases and plane crashes are things that just come across better in moving pictures, but Graham and Lashley are able to make the airport scene exciting and fun. However, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that that would be one scene that would be so much cooler in a movie.
Unfortunately, the story on the whole is fairly forgettable. There’s a cliffhanger involving of the characters introduced in the first few pages of this issue, but not knowing the characters simply limits the emotional investment Costa was trying to play upon with that final scene.
The concept of the “Blackhawks” as a United Nations-sanctioned covert peacekeeping force has legs, but barely gets to stretch them here. The characters are just being given names and vague purposes, but that simply means that there isn’t significant depth to anything here. Hopefully this is just the start and the rest of the story as it were will come into view more crisply in the next few issues.