Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blackhawk #242

Blackhawk #242 (On Sale: June 11, 1968) has Pat Boyette's first cover and first artwork for DC. It features a new Blackhawk logo, good for this one issue only and the return of the original Blackhawk uniforms.

This book tells you everything you ever should need to know about what kind a editor was Dick Giordano. When Dick was given the Blackhawk book he was told there were only three issues left before cancellation. Last issue featured the inventory work he was given from previous editor George Kashdan; it is in these final two issues that we see Giordano's take on Blackhawk.

In Dick Giordano: Changing Comics, One Day At A Time by Michael Eury, Giordano relates, "Blackhawk was one of my favorite comics when I was a kid." As such Giordano hoped to resuscitate the series or at least send the book off in a style he felt it deserved. Dick found a way to do that by perusing Kashdan's unopened mail.

From Dick Giordano: Changing Comics, One Day At A Time...

Recalls Marv Wolfman, who was then in his late teens and active in comics fandom: "I had sent in a spec script for Blackhawk, which was being edited by George Kashdan at the time. I didn't like the direction of the series. They had changed the Blackhawks into something called the 'Junk Heap Heroes'--which they where." Wolfman's treatment restored the Blackhawks to their former glory, and Giordano, having met Marv at several conventions, called the teen and offered to print the story (although it was dialogued by Bob Haney). "The was my first published work for DC," says Wolfman.
Giordano was not satisfied to just return the book to its former direction, he also wanted something special for the last two issues, so he phoned long-time golden-age Blackhawk artist Reed Crandall and offered the last two issues to him. Crandall was hesitant to accept the assignment, but was finally won over by Giordano's enthusiasm for the project. This was one of those times that Dick's "hands-off" style of editing almost proved fatal.

He called Crandall two weeks before the art was due for a status and Crandall confessed that he hadn't started and the aged Crandall admitted he "couldn't do this anymore." Really in a tight deadline bind, Giordano called on his old Charlton friend Pat Boyette to knock out the last issues of Blackhawk.

"My Brother – My Enemy" is plotted by Marv Wolfman, scripted by Bob Haney and drawn by Pat Boyette. The Blackhawks learn that G.E.O.R.G.E. has been wiped out by a villain known as the Black Mask. Without their special equipment, the Blackhawks are forced to return to their original uniforms and tactics to track down their foe. Blackhawk soon learns that the Black Mask is secretly his brother Jack, whom Blackhawk thought to be long dead.

During the early days of World War II before the Blackhawks were formed, Bart Hawk (Blackhawk's real name is revealed for the first time) and his brother were pilots flying a mission against the Nazis. Jack's plane was used as a decoy and shot down. Bart believed his brother dead and left his unit to become Blackhawk. However, Jack survived and was found by the Nazis. His damaged body was molded into a weapon and his mind was turned against his former allies and brother. Before the newly created Black Mask could seek vengeance, the Blackhawks bombed the Nazi camp. The Nazis were killed and Jack fell into a sleep of suspended animation.

Having recently awakened from his long slumber, Jack, now the Black Mask is eager to destroy his brother. The Blackhawks return to Blackhawk Island where Black Mask unleashes the War Wheel against them. The Blackhawks prevail in the fight. Black Mask is able to elude capture following the battle when Blackhawk is unable to fire upon his own brother.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

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