Long-time ISB readers might recall that while I love the concept, I’ve had my difficulties with the Blackhawks in the past, most notably when they decided to forsake their careers as flying aces and instead become the Worst Super-Heroes Ever in a story not even the mad genius of Bob Haney could save.
Still, while I’m not the Blackhawk fan that Dr. K is, this was not a cover I could turn down when I ran across it yesterday:
Not only does this cover feature the phallocentric bondage that has been the hallmark of the Blackhawk name since 1941–what with the fact that Stanislaus is tied up straddling a spiked battering ram and all–but man. How much of a Nazi do you have to be to weld swastikas to your tank treads so that you leave little swastikas in your tracks?
Answer: Enough that you also have one of these:
Based solely on the cover and the title page, I’m already willing to declare this one of the best comics of 1965. The art comes courtesy of Dick Dillin, and while the writer’s uncredited, but I’m pretty sure this is a Bob Haney joint, based on four pieces of evidence I’ve been able to gather:
1. Haney wrote the surrounding issues of Blackhawk, numbers 212 and 214,
2. There’s a character in the second story named “Bo Baney,”
3. Blackhawk talks pretty much exactly like Batman does in Haney’s Brave and the Bold issues,
and most importantly,
4. It is fucking awesome.
It all starts back in World War II, where a Ratzi by the name of von Horst sets out with his own band of strapping Übermenschen to take out Blackhawk and his team of charming stereotypes. Of course, this (presumably) being a Bob Haney comic, von Horst is no ordinary soldier:
Yes, he’s got a steel skull, which is why he’s been nicknamed The Steel Skull. Pay attention, because this fact will come up exactly twice in the story, and will lead directly to our standard-issue last-page deus ex machina ending.
Needless to say, von Horst’s Sinister Master Plan doesn’t exactly work out and he’s eventually captured by the Blackhawks. Under normal circumstances, one has to imagine that a high-ranking German officer would’ve been taken prisoner or, I dunno, shot or something, but Blackhawk elects to settle things High School Bully Style:
They tie him up, put a sign on his back, and let him go back to his camp.
Truly, they were the Greatest Generation.
As you might imagine, von Horst is not one to take such humiliation lightly, and immediately sets about plotting his revenge, which takes twenty years of living in a cave and culminates in a plan involving a fake treasure map to a cache of stolen Nazi gold, a conveniently located Roman arena in North Africa, and of course, Robot Nazi Stormtroopers:
Even against those titanic odds, the Blackhawks manage avoid certain doom. Stanislaus is freed when Hendy makes a pair of amazing trick shots, electing to shoot the ropes binding his pal to the tank rather than the guy sticking out of it–because, you know, Comics Code–and the robots are defeated when they manage to drop a rock on them.
It’s a big rock.
Eventually, von Horst is tracked to his cave, where Andre and his moustache save the day by activating a giant yet previously unseen electromagnet that von Horst–who, if you recall, has a steel head–wandered underneath. In his own cave.
So yeah, maybe slightly less awesome than previously advertised. But still, robot Nazi stormtroopers being smashed with rocks… that’s gotta count for something, right?