New 52 & Elseworlds Blackhawks

Sixth Era: The New 52

Created by Mike Costa, Ken Lashley, and Graham Nolan

FIRST APPEARANCE: Blackhawks #1 (Nov. 2011)

History

When DC Comics relaunched its entire line, the Blackhawks received a thoroughly modern makeover. In an early interview with CBR, writer Mike Costa described his outlook for the book: "It's a corner that really focuses on the technological advancements that occur within the DCU … I don't think you have a place where you're really understanding the scope of what's going on in this universe that's become so much more advanced than ours. … It's also a book about espionage and action and intense emotions."

Unlike its forebears, the new book was titled in the plural, and did not reuse any of the legacy Blackhawk characters. Instead, a new "magnificent seven" were introduced:

From Blackhawks #1-3 (2011-12). Art by Ken Lashley, Graham Nolan and Trevor Scott.
  1. The Alpha Team's commander is Col. Andrew Lincoln, who is the Deputy of Operations at their mountain top base, called the Eyrie. It is a remote mountain top location, which aids their secrecy and freedom of movement.

  2. Lady Blackhawk, the primary field leader. Her eye patch harkens back to that of the post-Crisis Lady Blackhawk, Natalie Reed.

  3. Attila, the Hungarian ponytailed powerhouse.

  4. Kunoichi (Nikki Nemser, "female ninja"), a Japanese woman and deadly operative. She was a later addition, and in a relationship with Wildman. She once auditioned for the Japanese pop group called Team A.

  5. The Irishman (Corporal Costello), a red-haired Ukrainian. His parents had international business in the USSR and he was born there. nickname from from his comrades in the Spetsnatz (the Russan special forces).

  6. Randall Wildman (deceased) was Communications and Analyst. He grew up in Vanity City and was often paired with …

  7. Canada, who is from Atlanta but got his nickname because of an incident in Calgary. Canada oversees the team's high-tech gear and planes. He generally detests hand-to-hand combat.
  8. The unnamed lieutenant is a Blackhawk abducted in battle with Parademons and coopted by the hive mind called Mother Machine.

Their "infantry" men are called Austringers (an obsolete term meaning "keeper of hawks"). These operatives are not all pilots, and their transport vehicles are called Peregrines.

Their first recorded mission—when they were were a fledgling unit—was around the same time that the Justice League were fighting Darseid. The Blackhawks fought through Parademons on a mission to recover their lost member, an unnamed lieutenant. They found her enveloped by a nanocyte cocoon. She'd been completely overtaken by the technological hive mind of Mother Machine, and turned on them. The Blackhawks retreated and Mother began her mission to "upgrade" the human race to a hybrid of flesh and silicon. In this battle, Lady Blackhawk lost her left eye. (DC Universe Presents #0)

The Blackhawks' lost lieutenant becomes Mother Machine. From DC Universe Presents #0 (2012). Art by Carlos Rodriguez and Bit.

covert operation to Kazakhstan, where their secrecy was compromised by civilian photographers. These photos wound up on the Internet, which sparked the attention of the Blackhawks' parent organization, the United Nations. Further, Kunoichi was bitten by an enemy soldier and when she returned to the Eyrie, she found she'd been infected with "nanocites," that granted her super-strength. The nanocites were designed by Mother Machine, a techno-organic being herself, who used the technology to destroy a meta-human detainment facility in Asia. (Blackhawks #1)

Titus and Mother Machine, from Blackhawks #2 and 3 (2011-12). Art by Graham Nolan, Trevor McCarthy, and Trevor Scott.

When Lady Blackhawk led a team to investigate the prison's destruction, they were met by one of Mother Machine's operatives, Titus. Titus was a ruthless killer and promptly sliced off Irishman's arm. Kunoichi and Lady Blackhawk managed to bring him down but in the process, Kunoichi was exposed as having been infected. Meanwhile, Canada and Wildman were kidnapped and taken to the Mother's hidden city. (#2) They met her minion, Flynn, and learned that Mother Machine's technology was far more advanced than anything they had experienced. She asked them to join her. Meanwhile at the Eyrie, Titus escaped and infected the computer systems. Kunoichi hooked herself via IV into the system and served as a sort of antivirus. (#3)

As radiation levels rose in the Eyrie, Kunoichi took down thw weakened Titus. And Canada attacked Mother Machine directly (after learning that her consciousness would take time to upload to a new form). He flew her craft out—into space! (#4) The Blackhawks were docked at Mother Machine's own satellite in orbit, where they hatched an impossible plan to save themselves. When Mother sent it falling to Earth, they used its "kinetic harpoon" to destroy her own facility on Earth. Lady Blackhawk scrambled an A23 Condor on their trajectory and secured a cable to transfer them to safety. (#5)

NOTE: The solicitation for issue #5 showed a blonde Lady Blackhawk, which was either a trick or mistake. The final cover depicted the existing Lady, with dark hair.

 
The original solicit, showing a blond Lady Blackhawk (left), and the final issue.

With Mother Machine's main facility and body destroyed, she renewed her attacks in other ways. After the Blackhawks released an EMP to disable a horde of machines with "modular intelligence," Schmidt briefed the press (including Clark Kent) about their operation. As Lincoln showed Lady Blackhawk their black ops center called Black Razor, they noticed disruptive technology among the cameramen. Their cameras were equipped with bombs, and when seized, they blew up and killed Wildman. (#6)

A design sketch of Col. Lincoln by Ken Lashley.

Lady Blackhawk was also seriously injured in the blast, which they learned had been set by Steig Hammer, a Finnish weapons fabricator who originated much of the Blackhawks' own equipment. Lincoln mobilized the entire Alpha Team in vengeance for Wildman, without approval from their diplomatic overseers. On the mission, Kunoichi made her way to Hammer, but he took control of her system and allowed Mother Machine to possess her. (#7)

As Mother took over Kunoichi, the Blackhawk was surprised to find the artificial essence of Wildman inside her mind! She learned that while he was in Mother Machine's satellite, she'd copied his consciousness to a nanoccloud, and the cloud was deployed before the satellite was destroyed. (#5) As her consciousness expanded, so did his access to the outside. Wildman encouraged Kunoichi to battle Mother Machine on the artificial plane, where she succeeded. But the Mother was alreday inside the Blackhawks' mainframe, so Lincoln decided to sacrifice the Eyrie with a nuclear explosion. (#8)

DC boasted that readers hadn't seen the last of these characters, but given that many of its "New 52" books have been cancelled, any subsequent plans might have also fallen on the cutting room floor.

Notes

Artist Ken Lashley was cited by Mike Costa as having created the look of the new Blackhawks, although Lashley did not ultimately pencil the series (he did draw the covers). Lashley himself explained the situation at Bleeding Cool: "The problem was that we started really late on the project. Chuck Austen was writing it … l was given the job and we got rolling. DC also provided a layout artist [Graham Nolan] to speed things up … DC decided to make a story change after a few pages were done…but that meant a 4 week delay, because the new writer had to get started, then get approved. … l love comics but its so hard to find the time when you have other commitments."


Powers

The only member of the Blackhawks Alpha Team with superpowers is Kunoichi, who was infected with nanocites. These give her enhanced endurance and strength, and allow her to interface (with much discomfort) with computers.

Their plane, the A23 Condor, was made by S.T.A.R. Labs and Queen Industries. Canada is their ace pilot, and Col. Lincoln and Lady Blackhawk are also pilots.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

  • First Wave, 6 issues
  • Mister Terrific #8
 

» SERIES:

  • Blackhawks, 8 issues (2011–12)

» SEE ALSO: