The New 52 delivers another team book in Blackhawks #1, DC’s answer to S.H.I.E.L.D.; well kind of. What’s most interesting about this covert operation is the fact that it was commissioned by the United Nations, an organization notorious for not having a practical means of enforcing mandates and treaties because it has no threatening military force to do so. It looks as though this fictional depiction of the UN is being much more proactive, although it is still unclear as to this group’s purpose, chain of command and who is really pulling the strings behind the scenes.
The Blackhawks is a collection of global military professionals outfitted with the best tech when it comes to weapons and armor, so don’t expect too much meta-human activity in this first issue. However, it seems that Mike Costa has specifically singled out the phenomena of nanocites (or nanites – robots the size of human cells that can alter the micro and macro-biology of the body) and how it may enhance normal humans to being capable of superhuman feats. It’s very interesting how this cellular infiltration (regardless of potential benefits) is regarded as theoretical and with a very negative connotation while acknowledging the fact that the world is filled with “super people.” In recent history, nanite technology has been very popular in all forms of fiction as an established “science,” and has been considered as an all purpose enhancement in order to level the playing field with other “naturally super” beings.
Costa introduces the reader to the team, but only one character takes the lead in the first issue: Kunoichi, a sexy female operative with magenta colored hair and a tendency to be over assertive in her job and her personal life. Not too much is revealed about her character to describe her as anything beyond the standard girl-power type. What is interesting is how she may have been “infected” with nanocites during a mission that involves the Blackhawks, how she reacts to it and how that situation will lead into future issues as either helpful or problematic. The other problem that occurs is the potential outing of the Blackhawks’ existence on the internet via photos taken by someone’s cell phone during a mission. So much for all that hi-tech gear huh? I’d suggest some current generation stealth technology, but something much simpler like not painting a large, recognizable symbol on the sides of your vehicles would be a good start in maintaining anonymity.
Graham Nolan’s artwork is appropriately gritty for this kind of comic book. I’m not particularly fond of his unflattering faces especially when they lose complete detail in panels that feature wider shots of the action, but the Blackhawks aren’t super, so scars and “ugliness” makes all the sense in the world. Without question, action panels are Nolan’s strengths, particularly ones that accentuate motion and explosive force within the frame.
Blackhawks #1 is a so-so read because it begs, borrows and steals from so many other generic, action-comic teams that a lot of it seems old hat. That’s not to suggest that any part of this first issue is bad, but “been there, done that,” is highly suggestive of “hold up, save your money.” No comic book can endure without a unique quality to its story or its characters. Blackhawks has two: nanocites and the UN angle, but does little to make either a driving mechanic to the plot in order to build intrigue within the eyes of the reader.