Blackhawk

FIRST ERA: QUALITY COMICS / EARTH-X

ERA 1 | ERA 2 | ERA 3 | ERA 4 | ERA 5 | ERA 6

Created by Will Eisner and Chuck Cuidera

FIRST APPEARANCE: Military Comics #1 (August 1940)

+ History

The Quality Era of Blackhawk is covered in my Quality Companion, available late 2011!
This page is an appetite-whetting gallery of some of the Blackhawks' fan favorite moments:

Lady Blackhawks The Planes Femmes Fatales Membership Roster

In the post-war era, Blackhawk himself was Americanized. Originally his family was from Poland, but it was changed so that the family who were killed were in Poland as volunteers. The change first took hold in a text story of the Blackhawks' origins in Blackhawk #50 (March 1952), then Blackhawk's siblings were illustrated in the flashback above, in Blackhawk #71 (Dec. 1953); art by Dick Dillin & Chuck Cuidera.

Blackhawk, along with G.I. Combat, were the most successful properties to be transferred from Quality Comics to DC Comics in late 1956. In terms of continuity and what was established by DC Comics, these wartime adventures could be considered to have occurred on "Earth-X" (home of Quality heroes) or "Earth-Two" (home of DC's own Golden Age heroes). The multiple Earths concept was not introduced until 1961's The Flash #123. In the 1976 Blackhawk revival, it was suggested that the Golden Age Blackhawks' adventures were fictional. This was most likely for practical reasons—the more recent the Blackhawks' debut, the younger they were. If the team had formed in the 1950s (aka the DC era), it was much more plausible that they'd still be youthful. Roy Thomas treated the Blackhawks as denizens of Earth-Two in All-Star Squadron, but this was not until 1985, just before the Crisis on Infinite Earths changed everything anyway.

Ladies Who Would be Blackhawk

 

Left: The first “lady Blackhawk,” Sugar, from Military #20 (July 1943). Art by Reed Crandall.
Right: The second lady pretender, Eve Rice, from Military #34 (Nov. 1944); art by Al Bryant.

The third lady who would be Blackhawk (or She-Hawke), Sheila Hawke, from Blackhawk #40 (May 1951); art by Reed Crandall.

Fear was a frequent guest star. She never aspired to be a Blackhawk, and was never an adversary. This panel from her first appearance in Modern #49 (May 1946); artist uncertain.

Don't foget Blackie the hawk, who first appeared in Blackhawk #75 (Apr. 1954); art by Dick Dillin & Chuck Cuidera. He only appeared once in Quality Comics.

The Planes

According to Chuck Cuidera, the first Blackhawk aircraft were modeled on the obscure Grumman F5F Skyrockets (never widely produced); from Military #30 (July 1944).

In Modern Comics #81 (Jan. 1949), they switched to these, based on the Douglas D558-1; from Modern #85 (May 1949).

Their familiar needle-nosed jets, like Lockheed XF-90s, debuted in Blackhawk #32 (Aug. 1950); above panel from Blackhawk #34 (Nov. 1950). They also used the Hawkmarine, their submersible, in Blackhawk #87 (April 1955).

Bossy Pants: The Femmes Fatales of Blackhawk

The Tigress, from Blackhawk #11 (Summer 1946)

Queen Mokina, from Blackhawk #17 (Winter 1947)

Lo Chien, from Blackhawk#30 (April 1950)

The Flame, from Blackhawk #33 (Oct. 1950)

Tarya, from Blackhawk #36 (Jan. 1951)

Troisa, from Blackhawk #39 (April 1951)

Vampira, from Blackhawk #97 (Feb. 1956)

Quality Era Membership

A standard roll call pioneered by Chuck Cuidera and finely delineated by Reed Crandall here, from Military #18 (May 1943).

Weighing in on the Blackhawks, from Blackhawk #85 (1955). Art by Dillin & Cuidera.

Blackhawk introduced six of his squad in Military #2 (though only Olaf was clearly identified), and he said there were more. In the next issue, those six appeared again, equally obscured. Olaf was played up the most in early stories. After Chop Chop and Chuck were introduced (Military #3 and #10, respectively), there were nine, but only seven survived for the long haul. Very soon, Boris and Zeg fell by the wayside. The final roster might have been the by-product of Cuidera’s final issue, #11, where he identified each member by face and name in a “roll call.” According to the team's co-creator, Chuck Cuidera, Chuck was named after him, and Stanislaus after Bob (Stanley) Powell. In The Steranko History of the Comics vol. 2, he also said Olaf was patterned on Big Stoop from Terry and the Pirates. (Steranko: 58)

Modern Comics #48 (April 1946) was the first issue to fully reveal the members’ home countries; they gave their official titles in Modern Comics #99 (July 1950); and their “origins” were officially told in Blackhawk #50 (March 1952). A chart in Blackhawk #85 (Feb. 1955) listed their heights and weights.

Operative First Appearance Post-Crisis Fate
DC COMICS ERA
Blackhawk, Chief Officer, from the United States (originally Polish) Military Comics #1 Real name never revealed in Quality Comics. The character never spoke with an accent, though he was clearly meant to be Polish in his first appearance. Only he wore the hawk emblem on his uniform.
Andre, Second-in-Command and Navigator, from France Military Comics #2 Second only to Blackhawk as a ladies’ man, though perhaps more overtly so. He was sometimes also depicted as a scientist, sometimes an artist and musician. Andre was the first of the Blackhawks to “die,” (Military #3) but he returned very soon afterwards. (#9) No other details were revealed about Andre’s personal history.
Boris, from Russia Was named but never identified, in Military Comics #2, and then fell into limbo. Perhaps he moved over to “Death Patrol,” which had a pilot of the same name!
Hendrickson (originally Hendrick), Surgeon and Geologist, from Germany (originally the Netherlands) An older, portly German (Dutch in Modern #48). He sometimes served as the team’s doctor. His name was “Hendrick” in Military Comics #2, changed in #5.

Olaf, Rocket Engineer, from Sweden (once said to be Norway)

The tall, broad, square-jawed Swede (a “Swensk” in Military #22, Norwegian in Modern #48) whose accent was written for humorous effect, though he was never depicted as dumb, per se. In earlier tales, he was featured more prominently than others.

Stanislaus, Supply and Armament, from Poland Wore his hair short and his homeland was later described as Poland. He was believed dead in action in Military #31 but returned the next issue and received an eye transplant to restore his vision.
Zeg, no details revealed

Named in Military #2 and called by name one other time. Last appeared in Military #15.

Chop Chop, from Military Comics #3 The excitable cook, who gradually took on more responsibility, becoming a fully active member. He hailed from Chongqing (Chungking) and was awarded his own featurette that ran in Blackhawk #10–95 (Spring 1946–Dec. 1955). Most of these tales were played for laughs, not unlike Plastic Man’s sidekick, Woozy Winks. For his odd looks, Chop Chop managed to garner the attentions of many beautiful ladies. In his more recent DC incarnation, he was the only Blackhawk with heirs. He was never awarded his own plane; he usually rode with Blackhawk but could fly on his own.
Chuck Wilson, Assistant Navigator and Observer, from the United States Military Comics #10 The last Blackhawk to appear, Chuck began with black hair which quickly changed to red, and had a freckled face and a short, upturned nose. In the beginning he was one of the lesser played members, but that changed as his American nationality became an asset in storytelling. He eventually took more initiative and overthrew rebels on a solo mission into Lokaria. (#87) He opened up to Blackhawk about his father, a pilot who was lost after World War I. His mother died in the meantime. Blackhawk and Chuck were drawn to a deserted island where Blackhawk learned that Chuck’s father, Wilson, had come to command a band of pirates. Wilson was betrayed by one of his band, and he begged Blackhawk not to tell Chuck the truth; Blackhawk obliged. (Blackhawk #17)

+ Powers

No member of the Blackhawks has ever exhibited metahuman powers.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

Blackhawk Archives, vol. 1. Reprints Military Comics #1-17

» SERIES:

Blackhawk #9-107 (Winter 1944–Dec. 1956) then by DC ... #108-243 (1957–68) • #244–250 (1976–77) • #251–273 (1982–84)

Blackhawk Archives vol. 1 (2001); reprints Military Comics

Military Comics, #1-43 (1940-45)

Modern Comics, #44-102 (1945-50)

» SEE ALSO:

The Steranko History of Comics. James Steranko. Vol. 2, 1972. Contains Blackhawks and "flying heroes" articles.

The Unofficial Blackhawk Comics Website

Lady Blackhawk Goes Bad

Amash, Jim. "I Created Blackhawk!" (Interview with Chuck Cuidera). Alter Ego #34, March 2004.

 

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