Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thanksgiving Turkey BLACKHAWK "Junk-Heap Heroes" Part 1

 There are times when you just scratch your head and ask "What the hell were they thinking?"
This is the story of one of those times...
Actually, it'll be continued tomorrow...
As shown in DC Comics' Blackhawk #228 (1967), the World War II-era adventurers were passe in a world of spies and super-heroes.
Comics are notorious for jumping on pop-culture bandwagons.
Look at the current Afterlife with Archie, combining Riverdale's wholesome eternal teens with Walking Dead-style zombies.
But, at the same time, remember Archie and company embraced both the superhero and spy genres in the '60s...with far less success!
Archie Comics even retooled the classic pulp character The Shadow into a purple and green spandex-clad superhero as seen HERE.
In 1967, Blackhawk and his team were facing the deadly threat of declining sales.
Considering the fact that all of them were active during World War II (which was less than 25 years earlier) and thus would be in their late 40s (if not older), the idea that they were still fighting (and beating) giant robots, aliens, and the occasional retired Nazi would seem to be a tribute to their skills and abilities.
BTW, it's not as if DC was downplaying their age.
The backup feature in the book was "Combat Diary", detailing indivudual team members' adventures during WWII, and a number of lead stories involved flashbacks to the War.
Writers including Arnold Drake, Dave Wood, France Herron, and George Kashdan tried different approaches, including playing up fantasy/sci-fi elements, but none seemed to help sagging sales figures.
In an era when everyone in pop culture was a super-hero or spy (or both), DC's powers-that-be decided to throw everything but the kitchen sink into one last try.
Writer Bob Haney, whose titles (including Teen Titans, Metamorpho, and Brave and Bold) were doing well, was given the assignment to reboot the series.
But, instead of a new artist handling the revamp (as was standard practice), the ongoing art team of Dick Dillin and Chuck Cuidera (who had been illustrating the book for over a decade) was retained.
Trivia: Dillin, who would take over Justice League a year later, and become the longest-lasting artist on the title, got his first opportunity to draw the JLAers in this issue.
And with the unique combination of old-and-new, the transition begins....

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