"The Blackhawk Archives: Volume 1" is part of the DC Archive Editions and retains the quality that the company has become known for in reprinting its vintage material offering a quality hardback compilation of vintage material from the golden days of comic book history.
This edition reprints Military Comics #1-#17, originally spanning from August 1941 to March 1943. Running over 230 pages in length, the Blackhawk stories from the Quality Comics all-military title are reprinted in high quality color on equally high quality paper that is much better than that of standard comic book paper, but not so heavy and glossy that it detracts from the overall reading experience and enjoyment.
The great Will Eisner writes the first four adventures in this tale, and some may pick up similarities in the story telling to Eisner’s classic, and at that time contemporary, work known as “The Spirit”. Dick French and Bill Woolfolk continued the writing chores then through issue #17 with equally entertaining quality. Art is done largely by Chuck Cuidera up through issue #11, with Reed Crandall taking up the task for the remaining six issues.
The stories are well executed and very entertaining, especially when one pauses to think about the time period they were published in and the amount of uncertainty that existed in the world. It is with little doubt that Eisner and his staff was able to foresee America entering the Second World War and was able to blend the real life circumstances of the era into comic book pop culture.
My only issue with the book stems from being an aviation enthusiast and historian. No, I’m not faulting the artwork here for accuracy as that needs to be considered given the time in which these stories were originally put together. My issue is with Mr. Evanier’s foreword in which he states of the actual Grumman XF5F-1 Skyrocket (the plane that served as the model for that of which the Blackhawk team flies in the comic book), “Actually, the Grumman F5F-1 was such a poor plane that it never went into full production.” This is not entirely true, as production of the actual Skyrocket was plagued by things other than overall aircraft performance. “Connie” Converse, Grumman’s test pilot for the Skyrocket program has said that the plane was very good. In the end, while only one Skyrocket was built, it ultimately led to the Grumman F7F Tigercat, which did see full production and became a rather good night fighter during the early part of the Korean War. (If interested in more details, check out “Naval Fighters Number Thirty-One Grumman XF5F-1 & XP-50 Skyrocket” also available through Amazon.)
Foreword aside, it is sensational to be able to read these reprinted pieces of American comic book history in one collection. I highly recommend this title to any comic book fan in general, but particularly to the Eisner and war comic enthusiasts, as it is one great addition to any collection.