Monday, December 6, 2010

1989 Mayfair Games DC Heroes Blackhawk Character Card Front

Blackhawk is another character like Captain Marvel, Blue Beetle and Plastic Man who was major league in his day, but can't seem to be made to work properly anymore, and not for some time. They started screwing up the Blackhawk Squadron in the '60s by converting them into the worst super-hero team contemporaneous with the Inferior 5. The '70s lost the powers, but kept some of the poor fashion sense, with tight pants and plunging necklines to go with the sexed-up "Carley's Angels" vibe. There was a well received but poor selling return to the WWII era in the early '80s, which was my first exposure to the group.

When Howie Chaykin decided he'd like to make corporate money again in the late '80s, he first did a Shadow revival for DC, and when that worked out, somebody figured Blackhawk was the next obvious step. Chaykin loved the period for its scummy underbelly, and so Blackhawk became a precursor to Mad Men by showing "the Greatest Generation" for the adulterous, hard-drinking, money-grubbing parents of the "Me" Generation that they were. It surely stuck in many a craw, because Blackhawk himself was virtually unrecognizable in Chaykin's portrayal, but it sold well enough to land him a slot in Action Comics Weekly. I could have sworn Marty Pasko wrote the strip, as he did Secret Six, but it turned out Mike Grell was at the helm for the initial eight part serial. Regardless, it was Pasko who joined strip artist Rick Burchett for the rest of Blackhawk's involvement in the weekly experiment, which then spun off into the sixteen month run of a mature readers solo series. That book launched in 1989, and is surely the reason for Blackhawk's odd inclusion in this card set.

Especially after my fanboy tangent yesterday, it behooves me to compare Blackhawk's stats with Sergeant Rock. The only physical inequality in the stats is Sarge's extra and well-earned point of Body. Rock's Will and Mind are far stronger, possibly influenced by Janos Prohaska's boozy cool and the shadow of doubt Chaykin's revisions cast over the Blackhawk canon. Rock also has the superior Aura, Spirit, Military Science, Weaponry, Martial Artist and Weaponry skills. However, the difference was always within a point or two. Blackhawk is best with a stick in his grip, either through 7 Charisma at the bar or 12 Vehicles when flying. Blackhawk has far better connections, and most importantly, an X-F5F Skyrocket with a Flight of 9 and Bomb of 15. So that's why he was the one to survive the war...

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