Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blackhawk Wingsdays: The Blackhawks Were Expendable!

After a long delay, I'm glad to say that I'm back with Blackhawk Wingsday, this week finishing out the back-up story from Blackhawk 202: a combat diary entry from World War II titled, "Andre Must Die." (The author of this story is unknown, but the art, as usual, is by Dick Dillin and Chuck Cuidera.)

Many Blackhawk readers have probably longed for the death of this smarmy Frenchman, and as we've seen before, this isn't the first time Andre has been left for dead. Unfortunately, because this is a flashback story, we know that Andre won't really die, but we can always hope.

As the story opens, Andre and Hendrickson parachute behind enemy lines into occupied France in order to deliver some information to French resistance leaders.

As usual, ethnic tensions amongst the Blackhawks threaten to undermine the mission almost before it gets started.

Everything seems to be going fine until Nazis raid the meeting place, and Hendrickson proves to be the worst lookout ever.

With Andre and the resistance leader, Pierre, captured, and Hendrickson's location unknown, the Blackhawks are forced to make a tough decision: go in and rescue Andre.
Actually, that solution never crosses their minds. Instead, the Allied commander gives orders for a bombing run to destroy the location in which Andre is held prisoner so that he can't be tortured to reveal military secrets. The Blackhawks only put up token resistance to this solution because, hey, it's just Andre.

So, they blow the shit out of the Nazi prison, and then they come back to base in order to play some chess. Also, a few days later, Chuck is the first to realize that Hendrickson is also missing.

Luckily, the men don't have to break up their chess game, as both Hendrickson and Andre walk through the door, apparently unscathed and berating their teammates for being lazy assholes.
Hendrickson then regales them with the tale of how he underwent a one-man operation to rescue Andre and Pierre, and the others realize that they probably should have thought of doing something like that.

I guess the final lesson of this story is, just as there's no "I" in "team," there is also no "team" in "rescue operation."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Gil Kane Punch of the Week 38: All-Request Punch!

In the comments for last week's punch, faithful reader Sea-of-Green made a special request for more Gil Kane Spider-Man punches. And since I desperately want to retain what remaining readers I have, I feel that I need to honor such requests when they come my way.

Unfortunately, I thought I had tapped out the Spider-Man punches I had with this classic, frequently reprinted one from "The Death of Gwen Stacy." However, in going through the trade collection of that story, I came across this flashback panel, from Amazing Spider-Man 96, "--And Now, the Goblin!" written by Stan Lee and inked by John Romita Sr.:

It's a little disappointing that, in this classic story, Gil Kane only included two signature punches, though the later one linked to above is pretty epic. However, this story is loaded with Gil Kane Crazy Floating Heads, so when I get to that feature after the punches run out, you'll be seeing a lot of sweaty, stoned Harry Osborn with pills and heads floating around him.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Gil Kane Punch of the Week 37: The Good Old One, Two, Three!

Since I've been going to the Green Lantern well a little too often, I decided to switch things up and use a Robin panel, this from "My Place in the Sun," in Detective Comics 402 (Aug. 1970; rpt. in Showcase Presents Robin the Boy Wonder vol. 1), written by Mike Friedrich and inked by Vince Colletta:

It turns out, Robin punches the wrong guy, leading the Boy Wonder to undergo some deep soul searching:

This panel proves that college kids haven't changed that much since 1970. Heck, my students are still talking about Law and Order, though they prefer NCIS for some reason.

The last panel also demonstrates yet another Gil Kane signature technique: the floating head montage. When I run out of Gil Kane punches, which hopefully will be never, I'm going to switch this series to "The Gil Kane Floating Heads of the Week."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oscar Time!

Over on The Bureau Chiefs' site, I've written the first in my series of cult movie essays, this one on the 1966 film The Oscar, just in time for Sunday's Academy Awards Ceremony.

I love the hell out of this movie in all its glorious badness.

Also, you can find The Bureau Chiefs' Oscar Pool on the site as well. You can see how my picks match up with a few other Bureau Chiefs, along with a random dice roll from a d6. If the d6 wins, I'm going to be pissed.

Then, on Sunday night, some of the Bureau Chiefs are going to live chat the Oscars, so you can follow along with the ceremony. I'm looking forward to that, even though I may be totally embarrassed by my picks this year (last year, I went a respectable 18/24).

Here are my picks for this year.

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Performance by and Actress in a Leading Role: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

Performance by and Actress in a Supporting Role: Mo’Nique, Precious

Best Animated Feature Film: Up

Art Direction: Avatar

Cinematography: The Hurt Locker

Costume Design: Nine

Best Documentary Feature: The Cove

Best Documentary Short Subject: The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

Editing: The Hurt Locker

Best Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon

Makeup: Star Trek

Original Score: Michael Giacchino, Up

Original Song: “The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart

Best Animated Short: “Logorama”

Best Live Action Short: “Kavi”

Sound Editing: Avatar

Sound Mixing: The Hurt Locker

Visual Effects: Avatar

Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air

Original Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds

Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Best Picture: Avatar

I would like to be wrong about Avatar winning Best Picture, as I liked The Hurt Locker much better. However, my pick here is based on how I think the new Best Picture voting system is going to work out, as I feel that it will really mess with predictions.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blackhawk Wingsday: A Brief Interlude Before We Get Back on Track

I mentioned a few months ago that the Blackhawks seem to be making a mini-comeback of late, with their appearances in The Brave and the Bold, Batman Confidential, and the forthcoming First Wave miniseries. I was surprised, though, to see them make an unexpected cameo in the latest issue of Justice League of America, written by James Robinson and pencilled by Mark Bagley. In a flashback involving some mysterious alien device that the New New (Newish?) Gods are after, Robinson includes several Quality Comics heroes.

This issue, number 42, also marks the last issue I'm buying of Justice League, after continuously following JLA series in various incarnations for more than 25 years. I've been making a concerted effort lately to stop buying certain series purely out of habit, especially ones that I just haven't enjoyed in quite a while. However, after I made this decision, I feel like this issue is saying to me, "Don't go, Doctor K! We promise we'll be better! See! Here are the Blackhawks--isn't this exactly what you want?" But unfortunately, it's too late (though I do love the War Wheel).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Gil Kane Punch of the Week 36: A Veritable Barrage of Blows!

From Green Lantern 51 (March 1967; reprinted in Showcase Presents Green Lantern vol. 3), comes this panel in the story "Green Lantern's Evil Alter Ego," written by (according to the credits) "Tiger" John Broome and drawn by "Pussycat" Gil Kane. Green Lantern fights Neoman in the 58th century!