This title started off with a bang, but has been pretty silent since. There have been little bits of excitement, sure, but there are bits of excitement in a trip to the grocery store, too. The excitement in this book has been centered around one of the Blackhawks -- Kunoichi -- being infected by nanocites (little viral bots designed to supplant the “human” in human beings) in a maneuver from what is becoming the nemesis of the Blackhawks, Mother Machine.
Mike Costa is deliberately building the Blackhawks world up in this series, and just as it was getting to be time where I was standing up to walk away from the slower-than-slow burn, things start exploding. Literally. Mother Machine’s lackey, Titus, makes a siege on the Eyrie, with thunderous results. Costa keeps the cast in this issue tight: Lincoln, Lady Blackhawk, Kunoichi, Irish, Canada, Wildman, and various red-shirt equivalents. This helps the issue feel balanced and thorough, without being overwhelming or slow.
It also helps that for the first time in this series the art appears methodical, stable and sturdy. The characters listed above are distinct in appearance, voice, and action. It’s a rather neat experience being able to see the cast and creative team gel together. Graham Nolan provides layouts for Victor Ibañez to finish up and Guy Major to color, and the whole issue is simply solid. While the art doesn’t have the same scratchy uneasiness of Ken Lashley’s, it does have an energy all its own. There’s an uncanny amount of detail in the book that serves the story well, supports the building of this world around these characters and offers a glimpse of just how stunning this book can truly be.
The introduction of this team felt like a poor man’s run at G. I. Joe, but Costa is finding ways to make this title stand on its own, without limping along as a Joe wannabe. “Blackhawks” is a fine offering for readers looking to scratch that “Checkmate” itch in the relaunched DC Universe. It’s not as deep as Rucka’s “Checkmate” was, yet, but it certainly has potential to be just as gripping a read. It just needs some consistency.
With four months and a dozen bucks sunk into a number of the relaunched titles, it has come time for me to separate the keepers from the also-rans, the might-read-its, and the good-lord-nos. Congratulations, “Blackhawks,” you’ll be sticking around for another month. Let’s make the mission a success. The easiest way to do that would be to offer up more of everything that made this issue so enjoyable.