Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blackhawks #1 - A Review

Blackhawk #1 is another one of the more surprising titles to come out of The New 52 line-up. Best known to fans of Golden Age war comics, The Blackhawks were originally an independent squadron of fighters formed by a loose brotherhood of pilots from nations occupied by the Axis Powers during World War II. There had been attempts to modernize the team in the past but none of them have been successful, begging the question - will this book about a wholly new Blackhawk squadron fly?

We start in the thick of the action, as part of the Blackhawk team is dispatched to an airport to deal with a group of terrorists who have taken hostages. The covert mission is quickly exposed, but the team manages to roll with the punches and get away without any casualties. Back in their mountain base - The Eyrie - a UN Delegate is given a tour of the facility and we are introduced to several of the team members - most of whom have colorful, if misleading, military nicknames. But things are not looking good for one team-member, who seems to have been infected with something that is turning her into something more than human.

Mike Costa's script reads like a slightly more mature version of G.I. Joe - not surprising given that he's also the current writer on IDW's G.I. Joe comics. The characters are as one-dimensional as in the original 1940s comics but this time they have the benefit of avoiding being stereotypically offensive. Still, the concept is established quickly and we do get some solid plot hooks for the next issue set-up between the mystery of just what is happening to Kundichi and the question of just how pictures of The Blackhawks got leaked onto the Internet.

The artwork by Graham Nolan and Ken Lashley is more of a mixed bag. Both artists have done great work in the past but it seems that Nolan's panel design doesn't mesh well with Lashley's finishes, pencils or inks. Lashley did the cover for the book solo and one wonders how an entire book in that style might have looked. As it is, many of the panels look odd, being both underinked and overinked on the same panels. Note the thin lines of Wildman's tank top in the page above and compare them to the heavy inks used on both characters' hair and eyes.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to ground Blackhawks #1. It's a typical war comic, despite its' modern setting and I'm just not a fan of this kind of book. It's not a bad story for what it is but the artwork is half-hearted at best. I really think it would benefit from having on Nolan or Lashley doing the artwork solo.

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