Blackhawk (comics)

Infobox comics organization
name = Blackhawks

imagesize =
caption = "Blackhawk" #12 (Autumn, 1946), Quality Comics. Cover art by Al Bryant. Grumman Skyrockets in the background
publisher = Quality Comics
National Periodical Publications
DC Comics
debut = "Military Comics" #1 (August 1941)
creators =
team = y
base =
owners =
employees =
members =
fullroster = Blackhawk
Zinda Blake (Lady Blackhawk)
Natalie Reed (Lady Blackhawk)
cat = teams
subcat = DC Comics
hero = y
sortkey = Blackhawk (comics)

"Blackhawk", a long-running comic book series, was also a film serial, a radio series and a novel. The comic book was published first by Quality Comics and later by National Periodical Publications, the primary company of those that evolved to become DC Comics. The series was created by Will Eisner, Chuck Cuidera, and Bob Powell, but the artist most associated with the feature is Reed Crandall. Future "Justice League of America" artist Dick Dillin succeeded him in the 1950s, continuing on through DC's acquisition of the series.

The Blackhawk Squadron, usually called the Blackhawks, are a small team of World War II-era ace pilots of varied nationalities, each typically known under a single name, either their given name or their surname.


The original team, who first appeared in "Military Comics" #1 (August 1941) and last appeared in "Blackhawk" #273 (November 1984), included:

* Blackhawk the group’s leader, was originally identified as Polish, but later issues referred to him as American. His actual name was unknown until "Blackhawk" #242 (Aug.-Sep. 1968) revealed that his name was Bart Hawk, an American of Polish extraction.
* Andre (last name unknown) is French.
* Olaf Bjornson is from Norway.
* Chuck Wilson is a Texas-born American.
* Hans Hendrickson is Dutch.
* Stanislaus (last name unknown) is Polish.
* Chop-Chop (named Liu Huang in "Blackhawk" #203; Mark Evanier named him Wu Cheng in "Blackhawk" #251 to 273), is Chinese.
* Zinda Blake (Lady Blackhawk) is American.

Other short-term members are Zeg (Polish), Boris (Russian), Baker (English), who disappear after their initial appearances in the original 1940s issues. Lt. Theodore Gaynor, USMC (American) is a short-term member of the team introduced in the 1980s series, which takes place early in World War II. Another significant character is Miss Fear, who never formally joined the team but appeared repeatedly as an ally in the 1940s.

The Blackhawks are each depicted in ways that are very stereotypical for the 1940s. Andre, wearing a thin mustache and speaking with a strong French accent, is renowned for his love of beautiful women. Olaf is typically depicted as a big, dumb Swede who speaks English poorly. Hendrickson (sometimes depicted as a German) is heavyset, wears a thick, Germanic mustache, and speaks with a strong Dutch or German accent. Stanislaus' speech is peppered with Polish epithets. Blackhawk and Chuck are the least stereotypical, both speaking in ordinary US English. Over the course of the series, each character also developed his own catchphrase.

Chop-Chop is both the youngest member of the team and the most stereotypical. The character is originally the team's cook, depicted as fat, buck-toothed, and comical, wearing a knot-top hairdo and stereotypical coolie garb instead of the Blackhawk Squadron uniform and speaking in broken English. This original version of the character is essentially Blackhawk's sidekick, riding in his plane instead of piloting his own like the other Blackhawks. A popular character at the time, he also appears in his own humor feature in the "Blackhawk" series from 1946 to 1955. His initial depiction—although now considered offensive by many—was not atypical of World War II-era depictions of Asians. This depiction, which remains the same from his first appearance in 1941 until the mid-1950s, slowly transforms from 1955 to 1964 until he finally becomes a full-fledged member of the team who not only wears a Blackhawk Squadron uniform but also pilots his own plane. Some later stories reference the fact that for decades he is not given enough respect even to wear the same uniform as his teammates. After DC Comics' company-wide crossover event "Crisis on Infinite Earths" revamped and streamlined many of DC's properties, Chop-Chop's old depictions are suggested to be those of a comic-book-within-a-comic-book style format that features the team's adventures, with Chop-Chop playing the role of sidekick. He is subsequently a more realistically drawn character in a standard uniform.

In 1987, comics innovator Howard Chaykin updated the Blackhawks with more adult characters and story in a Prestige Format, three-book limited series. Chaykin’s revised team consisted of:

* Janos Prohaska (Blackhawk) their leader, is Polish.
* Andre Blanc-Dumont is French.
* Olaf Friedriksen is Danish.
* Carlos "Chuck" Sirianni was born in Italy but raised in Hoboken, New Jersey, United States.
* Ritter Hendricksen is Dutch.
* Stanislaus Drozdowski is Polish.
* Weng Chan (Chop-Chop) was born in China but raised in San Francisco, California, United States.
* Natalie Reed (Lady Blackhawk) is American.Citation | last = Greenberger | first = Robert | author-link = | contribution = Blackhawk | editor-last = Dougall | editor-first = Alastair | title = The DC Comics Encyclopedia | pages = 54 | publisher = Dorling Kindersley | place = London | year = 2008 | ISBN = 0-7566-4119-5]

Other members added to the Blackhawks in the Chaykin inspired series that followed were Grover Baines (American), Quan Chee Keng, a.k.a. "Mairzey" (Malaysian), and Paco Herrera (Mexican).

Chaykin’s version of the Blackhawks was successful enough that DC gave it a place in "Action Comics Weekly" and then a short-lived series of its own. The Chaykin version of the Blackhawks replaced the original team in DC continuity from that point on, with a few exceptions:

* 1999's "JLA: Year One" limited series, by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, and Barry Kitson, included a cameo appearance by the original Blackhawk team that even showed them putting away the superhero costumes they sported for a short time in the 1960’s.

* And Zinda Blake (Lady Blackhawk) was time-displaced due to another DC event, "Zero Hour", and became a regular character in comics starring the character Guy Gardner. As of 2006 she is the supporting-character pilot for the costumed crimefighters depicted in the series "Birds of Prey".

Publication history

"The Blackhawks" debuted in Quality Comics' "Military Comics" #1, in August 1941, and featured in that publication for several years as well as in its own comic book.Cite web|last= Don Markstein's Toonopedia | title= Blackhawk |url=] "Military Comics" was renamed "Modern Comics" and eventually cancelled with #102 (October 1950), but their self-named book (which debuted in 1944) continued to be published by Quality until #107 in 1956. Quality itself had folded by then, but the title was integrated with the DC Universe and published continuously until #243 (November 1968), by which time its genre had become too anachronistic to compete with the rising superhero books.

Time itself also played a role in the cancellation. "The Blackhawks" as a concept were heavily tied to World War II, and as the years passed by it became more and more difficult to suspend disbelief about the characters' contemporary adventures. After a disastrous attempt to turn them into superheroes under the so-called New Blackhawk Era (#228-241), they were restored to their original roots for two issues before the 1968 cancellation. A short 1970s run (#244 to #250) attempted an update, but since then nearly all Blackhawk sightings (few and far between) are of a flashback nature. A well received 1980s series, written by Mark Evanier and illustrated by Dan Spiegle (#251-273), was set in World War II. In the 1980s a mini-series by Howard Chaykin reimagined the WWII team (notably in reinventing the title character as a Pole rather than American), with their adventures continuing in post-war stories in "Action Comics Weekly" (issues #601-608, #615-622, #628-634, and #635) and then their own short-lived ongoing series in the early 1990s.

Since then, only modern hints of the team have appeared, usually with "Blackhawk Express" or the time-displaced Lady Blackhawk. One of the best examples of this is the 1990s appearance of Chop-Chop in a few issues of DC's "Hawkworld" series, which naturally enough depict him as an aged, resourceful and respectable man, long rid of his racial stereotype trappings. However, other Blackhawk air pilot groups have been shown during present time or alternate future events such as "Our Worlds At War" and "Kingdom Come". It is unknown which connection beyond homage and inspiration, if any, those groups have to the classic Blackhawks. Blackhawk currently is an extension of Checkmate.

Three weeks after 9/11, DC coincidentally reprinted the early pre-Pearl Harbor 1941 issues of "Military Comics" in "The Blackhawk Archives, Vol. 1" (2001) as part of its hardcover DC Archive Editions.

Blackhawk made an appearance in the Feb. 2008 issue of "The Brave and the Bold" teaming up with the Boy Commandos (issue #9).

The Blackhawks appeared in "" 2, in which they help Superman, the Spectre and Hawkman battle a robot during the war. During the battle, Chuck sacrifices himself to destroy a missile.

During the same storyline in 1997, a new heroine named Blackhawk appears, battling Sinestro. She seems to be based on Batman, as she uses martial arts to battle.

International incarnations

The Blackhawk concept and characters proved to be popular on the international market as well as in the United States. Quality licensed the rights to Blackhawk, as well as many of their other characters, to London's Boardman Books which used them in a series of three-color reprints from 1948 to 1954. Boardman also reprinted Blackhawk stories in their "Adventure Annual" series of hardcover Christmas publications. Many of the British Blackhawk reprints were repackaged by Boardman art director Denis McLoughlin, who created at least one British original Blackhawk story as well as the illustrations for several Blackhawk text stories. After Boardman's contract lapsed, Strato Publications launched a square-bound 68-page Blackhawk series which ran for 36 issues between 1956 and 1958.


* PZL.50A Jastrząb This is the plane that Blackhawk flew in Poland during the Nazi invasion of 1939.
* Grumman XF5F-1 "Skyrocket" - This airplane is the fighter that is most identified with the Blackhawks. They flew this plane during World War II and well into the post-WWII years. This is the aircraft depicted in the lead-in illustration.
* Republic F-84 Thunderjet By the early 1950s, the Blackhawks converted the squadron to jets. This was the Blackhawk Squadron's first jet aircraft.
* Lockheed XF-90 This actual experimental fighter was adapted to become the fictional:: F-90 "B" The Blackhawks flew this plane from 1950 to 1955.: F-90 "C" The Blackhawks were flying this model by 1957.
* Republic F-105 Thunderchief The Blackhawks modified this plane to have VTOL capability.
* Lockheed F-94 Starfire This is the plane that Lady Blackhawk flew.

Early crossover

In 1942 Blackhawk was involved in one of the earliest examples of fictional crossovers when Kid Eternity summoned him in his second appearance ("Hit Comics" #26).

Other media

*"Blackhawk" was a 15-part 1952 film serial based on the comic book, produced by Sam Katzman and starring Kirk Alyn as Blackhawk. Alyn had earlier been the first screen Superman.
* The "Blackhawk" radio series was broadcast Wednesdays at 5:30pm on ABC from September to December 1950. Michael Fitzmaurice portrayed Blackhawk.
* Artwork exists hinting of a possible unaired appearance on the "Super Friends" animated series. The cel depicts a red-shirted interpretation of Blackhawk and a member of the team fighting a pack of what appears to be four aliens, while Aquaman watches from the foreground.
* A Blackhawk novel by William Rotsler was published in 1982.
*"The Savage Time," the first-season finale of the "Justice League" animated series, featured appearances by many DC World War II-era heroes, including the Blackhawks. When the Blackhawks join Superman and Hawkgirl in battle, Hawkgirl notices their logo. After Blackhawk salutes Hawkgirl, Superman comments "Friends of yours?", to which Hawkgirl responds, "They are now." Blackhawk was voiced by Robert Picardo.
*"I Am Legion", the third-season premiere of "Justice League Unlimited", featured a now-elderly Chuck, voiced by Seymour Cassel. According to Chuck, he was the only Blackhawk still living, and he was married to Mairzey, as the character was in the comic books. It was not revealed how the others died. The episode focused on Lex Luthor, The Key, and Dr. Polaris raiding the decommissioned Blackhawk Island in order to steal the advanced technology the Blackhawks had acquired on various missions and stored there. (The only item they do steal is the Spear of Longinus.) During a chase through the museum on the island, a statue or mannequin of Lady Blackhawk can be seen.
* The Blackhawk squadron appears in the animated DVD movie "", but the pilots are unnamed. The only spoken line is the cry "Hawkah!" from one of the pilots, presumably Blackhawk himself.
* A limited-edition Blackhawk G.I. Joe action figure was produced in 2002 by Dreams & Visions, licensed by DC Comics and Hasbro. The figure wore the classic blue-black flight uniform from World War II with two additional outfits and accessory sets included: Blackhawk's red and green uniform from the mid to late 1960s, and an Arctic survival uniform in sky blue.


The 1989 series of comics was nominated for the Squiddy Award for New Continuing Series in 1989. [Cite web|last= Comic BookAwards Almanac | title= Results of the 1989 R.A.C Comics Awards Poll |url=]

ee also

*PZL.37 Łoś bomber
*PZL P.11 fighter
*No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron
*The history of the Polish Air Force
*Polish contribution to World War II
*Seven Soldiers of Victory
*List of film serials



* [ Blackhawk] at the International Catalogue of Superheroes]
* [ The Blackhawks] at DC Cosmic Teams

External links

* [ Unofficial Blackhawk comics site]
* [ Blackhawk cover gallery]
* [ Panel that discusses Blackhawk's creation (in two parts)]
* [ Satirical yet informative page on the Blackhawks (part one)]
* [ Tongue-in-cheek review of the short-lived period of "Blackhawks as superheroes" (parts two through five)]

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