A few weeks ago, I covered the lead story in Blackhawk 191(Dec. 1963), in which the Blackhawks fight the pantsless menace, the Molecule Man. As that issue's cover advertises "Two Big Stories," I would be remiss if I didn't finish out the entire issue. In addition, as the final Blackhawk Wingsday of 2009, this story shows exactly how Blackhawk would have dealt with one of the biggest news events of the year. It's an adventure ripped from the headlines 46 years in the future!
This story is actually a collection of three different Blackhawk adventures, all told from the point-of-view of both witnesses and participants in those adventures. These stories are ostensibly linked together by one particular element, as we can see by the story's title:
The caption on the splash page utilizes one of the most worn out strategies that I see in freshman composition papers every semester: the rhetorical question, "Have you ever thought of...." And, as in those cases, the answer to the question here is, "No." I have never thought about what the Blackhawk insignia stands for because it's an image of a black hawk. It seems pretty goddam obvious.
But not to some guy named Yates, who has just written a giant coffee table book with this title. Yates went around the country asking people what the Blackhawk emblem meant to them, and from those people who didn't chase him off with a shotgun or verbally abuse them, he managed to get enough material to make a book. Man, they will make a book out of anything.
We learn of the existence of this book after a traumatic newstory grips the nation: the Blackhawks have disappeared! Not all the Blackhawks are gone, however, as we see Zinda, the Lady Blackhawk, arrive at the local airport to announce that she's going to commence a search for her missing teammates. There, she's accosted by Yates, who asks her to check on the copy of his book that he gave the team, because clearly she has nothing better to do than to look for this guy's book.
Zinda returns to Blackhawk Island, where she is met by the two other remaining team members: Bravo, the Blackhawk monkey, and Blackie, the Blackhawk black hawk. With nothing better to do, like investigate their teammates' disappearance, the three commence to reading Yates's book:
(By the way, it's been established in earlier Blackhawk stories that Blackie knows how to read. He can also spell his own name and write. I'm not sure what skills Bravo brings to the table. However, I did forget to mention last week that, when Batman goes to Blackhawk Island in the Batman Confidential story, "Blackhawk Down," he does fight Bravo's feral descendents, which is another nice touch that Royal McGraw included for Blackhawk fans.)
Yates's first story is told to him by a farmer named Bob Johnson, whose story is strikingly similar to one that gripped the nation not too long ago:
You know, when I was transfixed to my television during the whole "Balloon Boy" excitement, I constantly asked myself, "What would Blackhawk do in a situation like this?" Now, of course, we can find out for ourselves:
Of course, he would parachute out of his jet and land on top of the balloon. If only someone did this for Balloon Boy, most of us wouldn't have blown a whole day on something that turned out to be a hoax.
Blackhawk ends up rescuing the kids, and Farmer Bob concludes by explaining that the fact that his two sons are alive (and he is not in jail for reckless endangerment and child neglect) is what the Blackhawk emblem means to him. However, I'd like to point out to Farmer Bob that it wasn't the freaking Blackhawk emblem that risked its life to parachute out of a plan and land onto a moving balloon.
For the second story, Yates went to the County Correction Farm upstate to meet with Jim Dolan, who had once been a punk kid with a strong hatred for the Blackhawk emblem:
While the Blackhawks were heroes to most, they never meant shit to Jim Dolan and his friends, who probably also felt the same way about John Wayne.
When Jim and his buddies decide to take on a life of crime, their first heist--of a riverfront warehouse--is broken up by the Blackhawks. However, when Jim falls into the water and can't swim, his buddies take a powder, and it's Olaf who ends up saving the juvenile delinquent. Then, in a nice piece of irony, we find out that Jim Dolan is the coach at the correction farm, and not an inmate!
For the third story, Yates performs a prison interview with "Crafty" Craig, who may have got his nickname for his uncanny skills at knitting tea cozies and pot holders. Crafty and his gang had stolen a giant, solid gold Blackhawk emblem that had been given to the team by a "foreign nation" (i.e., Cuba), but he was quickly caught by the team. At the end of his narrative, he vows vengeance on the Blackhawks when he gets out of prison.
Setting down the book, Zinda notices that a bookmark is placed at the end of Craig's story, indicating that this is where the team stopped reading. Could there be a clue to their disappearance here?
Of course there is, because otherwise Zinda, Bravo, and Blackie would have been wasting their time reading this book while the rest of the Blackhawks may have been in mortal danger. With this realization, we then get a flashback to what happened when the Blackhawks were reading the book.
The team decides to investigate the threat made by Craig, who has recently been released from prison, by heading to the thief's island hideout. There, they all charge the gang, only to fall through a giant trap door.
If anything signifies that the Blackhawks are a shitty crimefighting team (especially when they are out of their aerial element), it's the fact that all seven of them fell through the same goddam trap door.
We then cut to the present, where Craig reveals his plan to the team, who have been his prisoners for several days:
This plan does not make any sense.
To prove that the Blackhawks were captured by a bunch of total idiots, Zinda enacts her own plan to help the team escape:
So, while she distracts the criminals by pretending to be a hawk-carrying ghost, Bravo comes in with a nail file to cut the heroes loose.
They then turn the tables on Crafty's gang, sending them down the trap door.
Zinda reveals that she defeated these idiots with three simple items found in any woman's purse (especially Joan Holloway's): face powder, a cigarette lighter, and a nail file. The irony of this story--from 1963 of course--is that the seven men were saved by the three "weakest" members of the team: a woman, a monkey, and a bird. However, the truth of the matter is that the Blackhawks suck so bad as crimefighters that they were almost killed by a gang who believed that a woman wearing face powder and carrying a cigarette lighter was a ghost. Seriously, if Crafty hadn't had the stupid plan to sit on the Blackhawks until they were declared dead, he could have killed them all and melted down their giant gold emblem, end of story. Then, the series could have been turned over to awesome stories of Lady Blackhawk, Bravo, and Blackie fighting crime.