Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, March 31, 2018


"History has proven that whenever liberty is smothered and men lie crushed beneath oppression, there always rises a man to defend the helpless...liberate the enslaved and crush the tyrant...such a man is BLACKHAWK...out of the ruins of Europe and out of the hopeless mass of defeated people he comes...smashing the evil before him..."

Thus the world was introduced to Blackhawk, who at one time was second in popularity only to Superman.  Created by the Eisner studios by Chuck Culdera (artist), Bob Powell (writer), and Will Eisner, the team known as the Blackhawk Squadron took a few issues to shake themselves out into their most recognizable line-up.  Blackhawk himself was an ace fighter pilot for the Polish Air Force; later identified as an American flying for Poland, no longer identified as a Polish citizen.  Who he really is is shrouded in mystery.  Much later in the series he was given a name, Bart Hawk...but can we really trust that was his true name?

Blackhawk premiered in the first issue of Quality Comics' Military Comics, a title billed as Stories of the Army and Navy.  Blackhawk appeared in Military Comics (later renamed Modern Comics) until that title was cancelled with issue #102 in October 1950.  In 1944, Blackhawk also got his own title with Blackhawk #9 (Winter 1944), having picked up the numbering from the cancelled Uncle Sam Quarterly.  In December 1956, Quality Comics closed with Blackhawk #107.  The character and trademarks were then leased and eventually sold to DC comics, which continued the title until issue #242 in August 1968; late attempts to modernized the characters came too little, too late.

From Wikipedia:  "[Blackhawk] shares the unique distinction of being just one of four comic book characters to be published continuously in his own title from the 1940s through the 1960s (the others being Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman),"  As stated, this sounds specious to me but, with a few caveats, essentially sound.

In this issue, the seemingly undefeatable German army is ruthlessly destroying all Polish resistance.  In the air, the Nazis are handily defeating the Poles until there is just one Polish airplane left -- its pilot shooting down six of the Germans.  Nazi Captain von Tepp leads his "Butcher Squadron," whcih closes in on the unnamed Polish pilot.  Escaping bullets, the pilot makes a rough landing near his home and rushes out of his plane.  Von Tepp vows to destroy him and drops a bomb which barely missed the pilot but destroys the house, killing the pilot's brother and sister.  "The stranger sadly buries his sister and brother, and without a backward glance walks away to disappear in the darkness..."

Months later, a new figure arrives on the scene.  With his squad of men, he rains death to the Nazis.  Headquartered o a small Atlantic Ocean island fortress, the Blackhawk Squadron follow their leader as he strikes fear into the Nazi machine.  Blackhawk, himself, is seeking vengeance for his siblings against von Tepp.  When one of his men is captured and about to be executed by von Tepp, Blackhawk finally has his chance -- which leads to an aerial battle between the two aces, one in which von Tepp has secretly sabotaged Blackhawk's plane!

Also included in this issue:
  • "Loops and Banks of the Red Dragon Squadron" -- After losing their jobs as test pilots, Loops McCann and Banks Barrows join up with General Cheng's guerrilla Red Dragon Squadron to fight in China.
  • "Origin of the Blue Tracer" -- American engineer Wild Bill helps create a spectacular war machine to fight fascists in Ethiopia.
  • "Episode with a Goat" -- Archie Atkins, Desert Scout, joins up with a billy goat to help save his battalion. 
  • "Enlisting the Hard Way" -- Colonel Sam Shot and Slim Shell team up to stop a Nazi plot in this humorous episode.
  • "The Coming of the Yankee Eagle" -- Jerry Noble and Sam (the Yankee Eagle, a real egle, mind you) stop a group of Nazi spies who have embedded themselves in the U.S. military.
  • "Origin of the Death Patrol" -- Created by comics legend Jack Cole, this is the first episode of The Death Patrol.
  • "The Origin of Miss America" -- Reporter Joan Dale is given special powers by the Statue of Liberty to become the superhero Miss america.  Guess which side she fights for?
  • "Sink the Kaiser Adolf" -- The "Q Boat," a four-masted schooner that is much more than it appears, is under the command of Captain Foghorn and has a crew of young boys (Bob, Dick, and Freckles) are more than a match for a new German battleship.

Enjoy this historic issue.

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