By Beau Smith
I’m like a lot of other comic book writers. I grew up reading and collecting comics. I pretty much read and bought most any comic book I could find. When I was a kid the outlets for comics were many, grocery stores, drug stores, department stores, gas stations, the kindness of a grandmother, but the chances of finding continuing issues were not always that good. I can remember buying Daredevil issue 4 and issue 5, then not finding another issue of Daredevil until issue 9. By then he had changed costumes and I was left wondering for a few years how that happened.
Of course now days you can find comics at the click of a computer mouse, so in some ways the thrill of the hunt is a little diminished. If you’ve got the cash then you can have the comic.
By growing up with a vast array of characters you tend to put some emotional investment into them even if you don’t always realize it and even if the stories are pretty crummy. It could come from the mood you were in the day you bought and read the comic, it could come from being sick as a kid and having the time to read them, it could be because you were just a dumb kid, it could be a million things. The main thing is we all have our attachments for a million different reasons.
I’ve got more than my share of personal favorites, characters such as Aquaman, Wonder Woman, The Sub-Mariner, B’Wana Beast, M.A.R.S. Patrol, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Sgt Fury, Capt. Savage, Modok, Wildcat, Space Ranger, Blackhawk and many others.
I’ve been VERY lucky as a writer to have written some of these characters as a professional. It’s something I’ve never taken for granted. During my two year run of writing Guy Gardner I made a point to try and bring back as many of my favorite “forgotten” characters as I could. Sometimes it was okay with DC Comics, with characters like Wildcat and other times such as with B’Wana Beast, it didn’t happen. I tried to haul in The Blackhawks, but at the time they had something cooking in the back kitchen with the characters and I couldn’t put them on my menu, but? they did say yes when I asked about Lady Blackhawk. I remember they were a little puzzled why I would want to haul back a character they thought no one cared about, but the way I looked at it was if I cared then chances are I wasn’t alone. I was right.
In the middle of my Guy Gardner run DC was doing an event called Zero Hour. Love it or hate it, they did it and as writers, we all pitched in to make it work. I looked at this as my chance to bring Lady Blackhawk back as well as a few others. With Lady Blackhawk I made it stick. Some of the others, well, at least like Space Ranger, I got to haul him back for one issue.
At the time, the Guy Gardner book was like the home for misfit heroes. I built a bar for them all to hang out in and then proceeded to try and fill it up. Guy had a bunch of crazy-Quilt hero buddies that I created for him to hang with, folks like Buck Wargo And The Monster Hunters and Probert-The Bad One. In doing that I need to make up some cool bad guys for him to fight with so I brought in Dementor, Sledge, The Black Serpent and Martika.
The most fun I had was saving some great little known and used DC heroes from the land of no return. Tiger-Man (My Greatest Adventure) Lead, (The Metal Men) as well as some bad guys like Earthworm, Fire Fist and Guy’s toughest bad guy, Major Force. I must admit, I had way too much fun.
Some of you out there that keep up with comics and most of all you Guy Gardner readers, know that some of the above mentioned characters have been swept under the DC carpet, killed or just forgotten. One of them that stuck was Lady Blackhawk. I’m very thankful to my friend Gail Simone for grabbing the torch for this character and not letting it get snuffed out. Gail not only put Lady Blackhawk in Birds Of Prey, but she gave her some major page time. In Birds Of Prey, Gail treated Zinda Blake (Lady Blackhawk) with respect and dignity. She stayed true to the character as a middle of the century adventurer that was always a Lady, but could bust heads with the boys any day of the week. Gail also made sure to show that even though Zinda was out of her former time and without the rest of the Blackhawks, she didn’t have to go on Oprah or Dr. Phil to whine and cry about lost times. She bucked up and found her a place within the ranks of Birds Of Prey.
Recently, Tony Bedard has taken over writing Birds Of Prey and is doing his best to make sure that Lady Blackhawk continues to get some page time. In issue #112, Tony dedicates an entire issue to Lady Blackhawk as she toasts a tribute to her recently fallen comrade, Big Barda. (Another favorite character of mine now taken from the DC spotlight for no real good reason.)
In “The Warrior Wake Of Zinda Blake”, Tony starts off things with Lady Blackhawk in a bar room brawl and breaking beer bottles over the heads of those that need it. Our .45 auto totin’ girl in black/blue leather is bound for California to take care of business and she persuaded a Taxi driver to get her there not knowing there are assassins tailing her looking to do her in.
It’s an action-packed road trip with loads of shooting and fighting. Zinda Blake at her best even when she’s three sheets to the wind. The only annoying snag in the story is too much PC jibber-jabber is placed on her Pakistan cab driver, Masoud. He whines all the way across country making you wanna just skip his word balloons.
David Cole and the great inker Doug Hazlewood do a extra fine job on the art with some straight ahead story telling that makes this book a pleasure to look at and read. The best part of this story is that it’s a good old-fashioned stand-alone story. We’re not treated to many of those these days at Marvel and DC so it was really nice to have a good one.
I highly recommend that you try and find this issue and read it. It’s fun and it’s well worth the $2.99. While you’re at it you might want to let DC know that you’d love to see more of Lady Blackhawk. She’s a great character and deserves to be seen more. You might also want to thank Gail Simone and Tony Bedard next time you see them at a con for keeping the character alive and kicking those shapely legs. Folks need to be thanked for the little pleasures in life.
Next time you see me at a con, make sure you ask me about how I would like to bring back all the Blackhawks. I may not be able to raise the dead, but I can sure try and make em’ proud.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover Of The Week
Captain Marvel Adventures #139
Fawcet, December 1952
Here’s a cover that goes to prove that Captain Marvel was never afraid to get his boots dirty. In 1952 he trudged through the mud to bust knuckles with the vicious Red Crusher. A great manly cover as Captain Marvel marches through a spiked mine field to get the job done. This is a classic 50s cover that makes you wish there were posters and lithos to buy.
Busted Knuckles Babe Of The Week
You’ve seen her as a kid in Kindergarten Cop way back in 1990, but see her today and don’t feel creepy as she stars in Cloverfield, Transformers and some prime time soap opera that I would never watch called South Beach. It was even rumored she was going to be in the now shelved Justice League movie. I guess we’ll never know what role she was up for now.
Whenever I get the spare time, which isn’t often, I like to go through my HUGE collection of comics and look for stuff that may entertain, amaze or just disgust you. Sometimes you can find an innocent comic book panel and with the power of your filthy imagination make it something REALLY creepy.
I did just that when I was reading a copy of G.I. Joe #12 from Ziff-Davis 1951. The story was really great and even though today’s reader might make something really pervy out about this panel, in the real story these G.I.’s saved the young girls from the dirty red army. I guess this panel was a sign of things to come in comics. I think they call it Manga.
Okay, that was my low blow for this week. I hope you enjoyed it. I also hope you like the new look here at comicsbulletin.com. I think it looks sharp and professional. It’s as close to sharp and professional as I get these days. Jason Brice and all the guys at Comics Bulletin worked a lot of overtime to make this the best possible. I think the boys pulled it off. I hope you can find the time to drop Jason a note and let him know. He’s a pretty good guy?for a Kiwi.
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