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Friday, 20 April 2018

Blackhawk 273 - Blackhawk ends

Blackhawk comes to an end with issue 273 (Nov 84). Evanier's story includes a Detached Service Diary as a flashback, integrated into the tale.

The Blackhawks head to China in the Spiegle story, and we finally get to see the new weapon the Japanese have, a giant robotic dragon.

Not only does the story bring back Chop Chop, is also brings back Virgina Mueller, the American reporter who had been featured in a Detached Service Diary tale, in which she, at first, thought the Nazis were no threat. In this story, she hears about the Blackhawks being sent to China to deal with the weapon, and coaxes her editor into sending her there. She actually arrives before the team do. That point will come out later in the story, as the Blackhawks wonder who alerted Virgina, before they themselves knew where they were going. But since the series ends here, this mystery never gets explained.

Sekowsky and Howell do the art on Detached Service Diary part of the story, which relates how he arrived as a Blackhawk in China.

Chop Chop has been fighting to defend his people, and was the first one on the trail of the new super weapon.

Chop Chop gets captured by the Japanese, but escape and joins up with the rest of the Blackhawks as they lure the "dragon" into a building full of explosives, detonate them, and destroy it.

The story ends with Chop Chop returning to the team. The Blackhawks tell Mueller that she cannot write anything about this battle, until they learn how she was manipulated into coming to China.

The Blackhawks are next seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Chaykin would be the next to revive the team, in a miniseries in the ate 80s.

Blackhawk 272 - Domino II, and Hendrickson's painted plane

Very good cover for Blackhawk 272 (Sept 84), which contains two more Evanier tales.

Spiegle does the art on the first story, in which Helga undergoes the same training that Domino did, and even gets clothed the same way, and given the name Domino II. Like with the original, the goal was to eradicate all emotion from her. Feeling that they have succeeded, they send her out to kill Blackhawk.

While the Blackhawks fight against an air assault in North Africa, Domino goes into action, seducing and capturing Andre, using him as bait to lure Blackhawk.

That part of the plan works, but Blackhawk is able to reach Helga, and she switches sides, turning on the Nazis. Had the series not ended shortly after this, I expect Helga/Domino would have stuck around, and basically taken the place of Lady Blackhawk.

Ken Steacy does the art on the Detached Service Diary, which centres on Hendrickson. It also deals with the way women were painted on the sides of planes during the war.

Hendrickson gets ambushed by a Nazi, who forces Hendrickson to fly him to London. The plane is just being painted, and the artist sees what is going on.

When the plane lands, there are troops ready for the Nazi. He doesn't understand how they knew, but we see that the artist painted a warning that a Nazi had taken over the plane.

Blackhawk 271 - a Blackhawk dies, and La Resistance

The team get a line-up change in the first of two Evanier stories in Blackhawk 271 (July 1984).

Spiegle does the art on the lead tale, which centres on Gaynor. The Blackhawks meet another soldier who had gone to the military academy with Gaynor, and now refuses to speak to him. He explains to the team how Gaynor tried to frame another student for cheating, because the guy was getting better marks than him. After that, none of the other academy cadets would speak to, or even acknowledge, Gaynor.

The Nazis use the giant worm again, and the Blackhawks go into action to try to stop it. Gaynor keeps acting like he is in command, and messing up Blackhawk's plans.

Chuck goes undercover, in disguise, in order to investigate Gaynor's past. He finds out some information that shocks him, but we never find out exactly what this is. He shares it with the rest of the team, though, and they kick him out of the Blackhawks.

The team walk away from him, and the story informs us that Gaynor wandered around Europe, trying to join another unit, but no one would have him. He died in the assault on Stalingrad, and all records of him ever being a Blackhawk were expunged. Never cared for the character, but this ending is a bit too abrupt.

Joe Staton does the art for the Detached Service Diary entry, which features Blackhawk. It deals more with the town they have been protecting, La Resistance. Allied command decides to end supplies to the town, though, focussing on more strategic regions. Blackhawk is angry with the decision, but can't do anything about it.

The Blackhawks oversee the evacuation of the residents, but still has to abandon the town to the Nazis.

Blackhawk 270 - Blackhawk vs Killer Shark, and Stanislaus drinks coffee

Blackhawk faces Killer Shark in the first of two Evanier and Spiegle tales in issue 270 (May 1984).

The story is a bit of a let down. Killer Shark has the team, aside from its leader, as is captives. Instead of killing, he decides to use them as bait to catch Blackhawk.

Blackhawk makes it back through enemy lines, and learns of Killer Shark's plans. He turns the tables on him, taking over the Nazi's submarine and freeing his men. Killer Shark escapes, but does not return again in this series. 

I much prefer the second story, a silent Detached Service Diary featuring Stanislaus. He is writing a diary entry, complaining about Hendrickson's coffee, when a saboteur plants a bomb to destroy the Blackhawk's base.

He fights off the man, finds the bomb, and throws it into the Nazi's plane before it goes off.

Then he finishes his entry, and decides to give up coffee.

Blackhawk 269 - Killer Shark comes hunting

An earth-shattering cover for the Evanier and Spiegle tale from Blackhawk 269 (April 1984).

So it turns out that Blackhawk's travels back behind Allied lines were not as quick as I had assumed from the story a couple of issues back. In this issue he is still operating solo, trying to make it back from Berlin after failing to kill Hitler.

Hitler summons Killer Shark, the classic Blackhawk foe, who is making his first appearance since the 70s.

Killer Shark leads his troops against a French town, which has renamed itself La Resistance. The Blackhawks are protecting the town, under the leadership of Stanislaus. The new guy, Gaynor, kills a group of Nazi prisoners, unarmed and in a cage.

As Blackhawk heads back, he seeks shelter with Helga, a girl he met while impersonating his impersonator. Hadn't realized she would be an important character, or I would have mentioned her when she debuted a couple of issues back. I also need to mention that Domino, the last woman that Blackhawk had feelings for, was also named Helga. 

The Blackhawks find the cage of dead Nazis, and start to ask Gaynor what had happened. But at that moment Killer Shark leads his troops in an attack on the town. He and his men capture the Blackhawks.

The story closes on Helga. After helping Blackhawk, protecting him from the Gestapo, he leaves her to keep working his way back home, hiding in the coffin of a Spanish officer. Helga's heart is broken, and she winds up in the hands of the woman who had trained Domino.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Blackhawk 268 - more diary entries

Blackhawk 268 (March 1984) is another issue made up of Detached Service Diary entries.

This one has far less of a framing sequence, but all three tales are still by Evanier.

Blachawk himself stars in the first story, with art by Doug Wildey. He accompanies an American reporter, who doesn't think the Nazis are anything to worry about.

The story is set before the attack on Pearl Harbour, and the American doesn't think the Japanese are anything to worry about, either. Even when Blackhawk takes her into the middle of a war zone, it is only when a Nazi charges to attack, despite almost certain death for him, that she concedes that the US needs to be concerned about them.

Andre and Chuck star in the second story, with art by Richard Howell and Frank Giacoia. This story has the Blackhawks exposing a Nazi who has been stealing from the French whose town they are occupying.

It's a story in which Nazis are all scheming against each other to take the most advantage of the situation. Simply by revealing the truth, Andre and Chuck bring down the men in charge, and get at least of the jewels back.

The last story has art by Spiegle, and is a Christmas tale, of sorts, featuring Olaf.

He gets taken in, and his wounds tended to, by a Jewish family, celebrating Chanukah. They dream of taking over Palestine and turning it into Israel, which they somehow think will be peaceful. That puts a big damper on the whole tale, frankly. A miraculous blizzard stops the Nazis from reaching the house.

Blackhawk 267 - Blackhawk heads to Berlin, and Stanislaus eats dinner

Evanier and Spiegle send Blackhawk to Berlin in the lead story from Blackhawk 267 (Feb 84).

The story opens on Walter Winchell. He is not named, but his phrase "Good evening Mr and Mrs America and all the ships at sea" is so distinctive that he doesn't need to be. He spreads the news that the Nazi's succeeded at killing Blackhawk, in order to enable Blackhawk's ruse, pretending to be his own impersonator.

He has some tense moments along the way, when he is "mistakenly" taken to be exactly who he actually is, but eventually makes it to Berlin, and face to face with Hitler.

Still, this story sort of pisses itself away. When Blackhawk tries to kill Hitler, he turns out to be using an unloaded gun. Even during this, Hitler doesn't realize he is facing the real Blackhawk, and the hero manages to escape pretty easily.

Stanislaus stars in the Detached Service Diary, with art by Mike Sekowsky and Rick Hoberg. He is in Russia, aiding the Soviets, lecturing them on how to treat their own soldiers, and hunting down a Nazi spy in their midst.

I like Hoberg's inks on Sekowsky. Enlivens a mediocre story, as Stanislaus figures out that the spy has poisoned the food, and spots him by the way he doesn't eat anything.