Written by Mike Costa
Illustrated by Cafu and Carlos Rodriguez
The Blackhawks have always worked in the shadows, hidden away from public view — but now that they’ve been caught on video, and that video has gone viral, the game has changed. Their U.N. masters have added Valkyrie to the team, a woman as skilled at navigating the world of public relations as she is at flying cutting-edge aircraft — it’s too bad the rest of the Blackhawks hate her guts! But while the Blackhawks’ greater mission is public knowledge, team leader Lincoln is still keeping some serious secrets!
Oh, “Blackhawks,” we hardly knew ye. Hit the jump to read the eulogy for this dearly departed black-ops member of the New 52.
When the initial solicitations for the New 52 came out, the only book I wasn’t at least slightly curious to take a peek at (even if the peek was to laugh at how bad it would be) was “Blackhawks.” This just seemed to me to be DC doing a GI Joe book without the GI Joe characters, and who wants that? Apparently, not too many, since this was one of the 6 books cancelled by DC at issue #8.
But, to satisfy the completionist in me, I decided it was only fair that I reviewed one issue before it went up to the big airplane hanger in the sky. DC’s solicits were pretty vague as to whether or not this was mid-arc or a stand alone issue, so I was hoping that I could pick this book up cold and get a feel for what it was all about with just this one issue. It turns out, this is part 2 of the final arc of the book, so I had to track down #6 so I had some idea what was going on.
And I have to say, what I found were actually two pretty good comics. Nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary, but something worth reading and that made me a little sad for its cancellation. It’s sad that a decent comic without a headliner can do so, so, so much worse than a terrible book with a popular character at the helm (I’m looking at you, “Detective Comics”), but that is the fate of “Blackhawks.”
The story for this arc is pretty standard: the general populace has found out about the Blackhawks, and so they are trying to do damage control, when someone sets off a bomb at HQ during the press conference. They find out who is behind it, and go after him. As a neophyte reader, this is all I really needed to know to understand the book, and the rest I was able to pick up along the way.
Mike Costa deserves credit for making such an easy to pick up book that doesn’t feel weighed down by the military/technological jargon. What he also deserves credit for is seeing the writing on the wall and embracing the cancellation with a story that really does feel like an ending. I’m sure Costa and co. weren’t shocked when the plug was pulled, but handle it with poise here – the story is clearly not the one that issue #7 of a non-cancelled series would give us, and it directly addresses the ending of the series (the storyline is called ‘Obsolescence’).
Costa is best known for his GI Joe stories, and there are certainly moments in the book where you could practically see the Joes just underneath the pencils of their stand ins. But – and here is the important question – who cares? Yes, Marvel is relaunching “Man-Thing,” and the only reason they are doing it is because “Swamp Thing” is a hit again. That’s the nature of the business; whatever works is replicated.
For a long time, trying to ape a GI Joe comic was the last thing anyone wanted to do, but IDW has revitalized the property recently (or so my Hour Cosmic co-hort Chad Bowers would lead me to believe), and maybe DC wanted a piece of that sweet, sweet, Joe cash. So what? If the stories were good, they’d eventually gain a life of their own and become something other than just a cheap GI Joe knockoff.Continued below
Cafu and Carlos Rodriguez do a nice enough job with the art here – the lines are clean, the technology realistic enough, the characters identifiable. But I can’t help wonder if an artist with a more distinct style would have been better suited to this book. Even though I was never really a fan, “The ‘Nam” is a comic I can still see in my mind’s eye – the look was so distinct that it took you into the story without too much struggle. Here, the look is fine, but it isn’t anything distinctive. It looks and feels like many other comics, and that is part of its relatively bland pedigree.
Simply put: this book never really had a chance in the modern comics landscape. Despite decent reviews (our reviewer sort of liked the first issue, too), this book was pegged for cancellation before it got off the ground. Hopefully, Costa will find a place on another book at DC, because I think his handling of the team dynamic/the government bureaucracy angle was pretty good, and that could be applied to any number of other DCnU titles. And maybe next time, DC will put some of its money and creative juices behind a book like “Blackhawks,” to ensure that smaller books won’t meet the same fate in the future.
Final Verdict: 6.1 – Who buys a penultimate issue?