• Reviews 

    Review: Blackhawks #1

    By | September 29th, 2011
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by Mike Costa
    Illustrated by Graham Nolan & Ken Lashley

    Welcome to a world waging a new kind of war that’s faster and more brutal than ever before. It’s fought by those who would make the innocent their targets, using computers, smart weapons and laser-guided missiles. The new enemy is hard to find — and closer to home than we think.

    Between us and them stand the Blackhawks, an elite force of military specialists equipped with the latest in cutting-edge hardware and vehicles. Their mission: Kill the bad guys before they kill us.

    Admittedly, the classic Blackhawks stories were always ones I wished I was more familiar with but was never motivated enough to track down and absorb. As a result, I found myself curious about this new beginning for the book, despite it being championed by a creative team I was unfamiliar with.

    Click on down to find out how this new taste of an idea older than myself pleased my pallet.

    The modus operandi of this book seems pretty easy to grasp: high tech military unit set to take out threats too big for conventional military operatives to handle. Once I figured that out, my gut reaction was, “Wait — doesn’t this book exist in at least three different places?” Truthfully, the answer to that question is yes, but I’m not 100% certain that’s a bad thing yet.

    The majority of the issue is made up entirely of the Blackhawks team running a mission that Costa uses to establish their status quo and begin developing personalities for his cast. Near as I can figure, this is one of the books that falls into the “hard reboot” category of the DCnU, which means many if not all of the characters featured may have been making their debut in these very pages. This is both freeing and inherently limiting, as not only does Costa need to introduce these characters but he also has to make us invest enough to check out another issue starring them, with absolutely zero safety net that would come from reader familiarity. In this regard, the book gets around an 80%.

    While I definitely understand which one is the angry one, the slutty one, the funny one and the direct one (I even have an explanation of some of their nicknames), I feel the book did a LOT more telling than it did showing, albeit nowhere near as bad as some other DCnU books this week. It dipped into vapid exposition at points, which really took me out of things, but Costa does manage to do a good job of balancing the all out action of the issue and the slower, story developing parts that are vital to creating a foothold for this book. If the entire issue was a giant action scene (as it very easily could have been given the subject matter), it would have just read as disingenuous and totally skewed the flash/substance ratio. The fact that some time was spent on developing characters, even if it lagged at times, still benefitted the book overall.

    Ultimately, only one of the issue’s two cliffhangers is really compelling to me right now, and while I don’t want to spoil the exact details, the introduction of an element very unfamiliar to this type of story presents a decently compelling hook that will be interesting to follow.

    As far as the art is concerned, the one-two punch of Nolan and Lashley provide the backdrop they needed to keep this book afloat. While the art itself doesn’t really take too many chances, the book being a pretty straightforward war/espionage book means it doesn’t need the art to diverge from the standard too much. In fact, if it WASN’T relatively straightforward linework and conventional character structures, it would have ultimately impacted the book negatively. However, while the art itself does not exit the box, I found the book’s layouts were very effective in not only painting the widescreen picture that the battle needed but still managing to include the slower, character building moments into the action itself without impacting the momentum of the scene too heavily, and that is just fine with this reviewer.

    Continued below

    Overall, while this book definitely told a good story and created a foothold for this concept moving forward, I’m not sure the high points were high enough to really make me stand up and invest. That is ultimately the issue with the entire “New 52” initiative: no one can reasonably afford to add every single book to their pull, which ultimately means that the books that stand out REALLY stand out and the books that tread the line in a so-so fashion ultimately get pushed down further than they would within a traditional production schedule. Am I interested in seeing where this book goes? Sure, I guess. Sadly though, the amount of books waiting for me at the store the week Issue #2 comes out will be the deciding factor as to whether I will or not.

    Final Verdict: 7.5 – Buy, I guess?

    Joshua Mocle

    Joshua Mocle is an educator, writer, audio spelunker and general enthusiast of things loud and fast. He is also a devout Canadian. He can often be found thinking about comics too much, pretending to know things about baseball and trying to convince the masses that pop-punk is still a legitimate genre. Stalk him out on twitter and thought grenade.