Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Reprint This! Blackhawk #252-#273

Here's a new feature to my blog - a chance to highlight all of the good stuff that should be put into TPB form for all to enjoy. I'm starting with a fairly obvious choice, but many of you may not be aware of the wonderful take on Blackhawk by the team of Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle. Blackhawk is a tough, tough series to keep fresh as, in many ways, it was no longer a viable strip after the end of WW2. The series was kept alive at Quality and it was still quite an entertaining read in the 50s. The transition to DC was a rough one, and the Junk Heap Heroes experiment could have proven fatal.

The final two issues of that Blackhawk series, pencilled by personal favourite Pat Boyette, were the strongest Blackhawk stories in eons. My guess is that Mark Evanier had those issues in mind when he started writing this early 80s masterpiece. Somehow Evanier and Dan Spiegle were able to find the right balance of action, adventure, drama and humour that had eluded so many Blackhawk creators in the past. Even though the war was ancient history, the Evanier/Spiegle team created a timeless feel to their book and made us relive the threat of Hitler and the Nazis as well as the optimism in the Blackhawks' cause.

Many comic books have tried to return to WW2 (Wonder Woman in World's Finest, the Invaders) but none made it as compelling as this series. Dan Spiegle remains one of the most underrated comic book artists of all-time and I am starting to see he and Evanier as one of the greatest collaborative teams in comic book history. Spiegle can draw everything and anything, and his stories move along beautifully. Perhaps that is why he is rarely mentioned in the same sentence as a Kirby or and Adams - he never makes you stop and say 'Wow - look at that!' He just knows how to tell a story. As a bonus, you've got wonderful covers by the likes of Kane and Cockrum.

This is a perfect candidate for reprint treatment, and I simply cannot understand why DC hasn't done it yet!


MDG14450 said...

I'm pretty sure I have the entire run--I should pull them out for a re-read. I remember liking it a lot.

Interesting that you feel the series wasn't really viable after WWII--I don't disagree, but wonder what kept kept the momentum going so far into the 60s, and why DC kept it going. (Chuck Cuidera's run on the book is probably one of the longest of any artist on a series).

But, barring something like a movie deal, I wouldn't hold my breath for a collected version.

benday-dot said...

Coincidently, I myself recently reread a dandy little story arc from this era of Blackhawk, extending from 264-267. Evanier brings really strong characterization to the Blackhawks and drives the story ahead with a compulsive momentum. Great stuff.

Spiegle is tops here as well. Now, this might be outrageous, considering what a mighty Toth enthusiast you are Scott, but again and again I kept seeing a pronounced Alex Toth influence to Spiegle's work here. And sometimes, his faces (noses especially) brought to mind Sparling or Springer. But this "he reminds me of game" is unfair to the man. Spiegle is a superb stylist in his own right. Craig.

Scott M said...


I was having trouble putting my thought into words. I meant more like, in a logical sense, this series should have grown stale after the end of WW2 - as was the fate of many patriotic strips. I think that the Communist threat was the great saviour for war books. Airboy eventually went 'Weird' and Blackhawk would follow a little bit later. It must have been profitable for a while. I know it was my Dad's 2nd favourite books (he would have been reading 1955 or so).

Craig - I didn't like Spiegle as a kid (he was doing the Nemesis back-up in Brave and Bold) - but of course, children are idiots. I've grown to appreciate his artwork over time. I agree that he shares some traits with Toth - both great a keeping your eye moving.