Action Comics Weekly #616 (Blackhawk)
Writer – Martin Pasko
Art – Rick Burchett
Letters – Steve Haynie
Colors – Tom Ziuko
Editor – Mike Gold
It’s time for our cover feature! Have I mentioned how happy I am to have this one back in the rotation?
We open with Andre Blanc-Dumont and Carlo Sirianni having a few drinks. Thankfully they are both named (though Carlo is called “Chuck”), and they’re both wearing Blackhawk uniforms. I feel like if this were written in “current year” such things might be overlooked… especially the naming. Anyhoo, they’re chatting about stuff, and they wonder if Weng Chan might be joining them in this new venture. Our scene shifts to show us what “Chop-Chop” has been up to, which includes hustling some frat boys at Pacifica State University.
Meanwhile, at Blackhawk Airways Inc., Jan and Natalie formally meet their client. Something I missed last week was that the fella has a traditionally feminine name (Leslie), which is why Jan was expecting a “tomato”. It totally went over my head that this Leslie was… a dude! It’s all part of the rub though, Leslie wrote the Western Union a bit ambiguously because he figured if Jan thought he were a woman he might be more… uh, excited to take the gig. Turns out, he was right! Nat gets a good chuckle out of the misunderstanding.
Janos notes that the telegram was written by someone claiming to be married to a “Captain”, and before he can question Leslie’s sexuality, we learn that the “Captain” in question is indeed Leslie’s wife, Alice Richardson. She perished when her plane blew to pieces while taking off after refueling in Sumatra… or, at least that’s what the records claim. Leslie wants to hire Blackhawk to investigate the site of the wreck.
While Jan and company mull it over, we close out this chapter in Sumatra… where a fella named Van der Houten (who is trimming down a hyooge flower) is informed by an aide that “the woman” still won’t talk. The plot thickens!
Ya know, I mentioned it during the synopsis, but I gotta say it again… I truly appreciate the fact that Pasko went out of his way to ensure all of our characters have been named. It’s clear as to who is who, which seems like such a small thing… but in “current year”, it could make all the difference.
I tell ya what, I picked up Uncanny X-Men #1… the latest Uncanny X-Men #1 (which I realize doesn’t quite narrow it down). Uh, the heinously over-priced, gimmicky-as-hell, piece of garbage Uncanny X-Men #1? Does that help? Anyhoo… these were characters that I’d grown up with… been reading them for over three decades… and I couldn’t recognize half of them! Worse, the book didn’t exactly engage in “hand-holding”… so, I was lost… I left, and I never came back.
The thing with Marvel #1’s though… if you don’t like this one, you only have to wait about 6-8 months for the next! Recent news about the latest-latest X-Men reboot is proof enough of that!
One of the reasons I shied away from the “war” books, besides it just not being a concept that interests me all that much, was that I knew there’d be a whole bunch of characters (without distinct “costumes”) I’d have to learn about. It seems overwhelming… In fact, that’s what made me worry about this Blackhawk feature!
And yet, here we are. Pasko is introducing and naming the characters we need to know… and so many of my concerns have been brushed aside. Add to the fact that this is just a fun story, and it feels like we’ve got another winner on our hands.
I’m sorry that I missed the profundity of the final panel of last week’s chapter. Generally speaking, I think I’m a fairly perceptive dude, but I must have glossed over the fact that Leslie was a fella… and exactly why that might’ve been shocking for Jan. I really dig the explanations given here though… Janos’ womanizing ways being used against him is a really fun idea.
Overall, once we read about Alice’s “death” I think we all had that sneaking suspicion that we’d eventually get around to meeting her… so, that wasn’t exactly a surprise. Though, for all I know, the fella at the end might actually be talking about a different woman. I don’t think so, but… I’ve been wrong before. Whatever the case, I’m looking forward to what’s to come!
Tomorrow: The long anticipated return of… Susan King!