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Tony's Online Tips
Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Friday, April 3, 2009

Showcase Presents Blackhawk

If you think I never read a Silver Age comic I didn't enjoy, then Showcase Presents Blackhawk Volume One [DC; $16.99] proves you wrong. This book reprints issues #108-#127 of the long-running title, cover-dated from January 1957 to August 1958 - and it was a chore for me to slog through the sixty stories presented in those issues.

Blackhawk was among the most successful titles from Quality Comics. When that publisher got out of comics, DC picked up the series and continued it. Under Quality, the Blackhawks' adventures were daring and exotic and filled with beautiful women from both sides of the good/evil fence. Under DC, the seven heroes were almost neutered. There was the occasional lovely-but-dangerous female - and one group of vengeful widows who patterned themselves after the Hawks - but, for the most part, the Blackhawks went after evil scientists, nondescript gangsters, and costumed criminals whose names and modus operandi would have reduced Batman and Robin to giggling fits. They fought a few extraterrestrial villains, but both the aliens and the Blackhawks themselves seemed embarrassed by those encounters.

The title's format was the its biggest problem. Seven heroes. Three stories per issue. Several of these issues have interesting characters or concepts, but the writers didn't have enough pages to develop them fully. After a few issues, the standard "let's move this story along" gimmick of the Blackhawks putting their jets on "automatic pilot" and parachuting to the ground to confront their opponents made my eyes roll enough to give me a migraine. That the Hawks crashed dozens of planes in the course of these stories made me wonder where their funding came from. I'm not sure even Scrooge McDuck could pay for all those replacement jets and the upkeep on Blackhawk Island.

The three-stories-per-issue format hurt the art. It's painful to look at all those cramped panels and pages, especially knowing how much better the Dick Dillin/Chuck Cuidera art got once they had longer stories. It's a testimony to their skill and diligence that these shorter tales look as good as they do, especially when they had to draw multiple jets in the air, vast backdrops for the action on the ground, and group shot after group shot. It would've driven lesser artists mad.

Showcase Presents Blackhawk Volume One earns just one disappointing Tony.

Tony

Where's Lady Blackhawk when you need her?

******

TONY POLLS

For many years - with the occasional long and short hiatus - we've been bringing you the Tony Polls, your opportunity to vote on questions of life and pop culture. Currently, we're asking readers to vote on whether or not they want the polls to return on a regular basis and, if they do, how often new questions should be posted. The responses have been positive, but their numbers haven't been what we had hoped for.

The current questions will remain active until sometime after midnight on the evening of Monday, April 6. At that point, we'll be making the decision as to whether polls continue. In other words, counting today, you have four more days to cast your votes and save the polls for future TOT readers.

You can cast your ballots by going to:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. Have a happy and safe weekend.

I'll be back on Monday with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/02/2009 | 04/03/2009 | 04/06/2009 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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THE "TONY" SCALE

Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

Tony
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TonyTony
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

TonyTonyTony
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

TonyTonyTonyTony
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.



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