Comic Legends: Was Blackhawk a Spy?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and sixty-second week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends.


The Blackhawk comic strip was leaking government aviation secrets


False, but Kind of True

As you may or may not know, my first book was called Was Superman a Spy? and Other Comic Book Legends Revealed...

This was based on one of my earliest Comic Book Legends Revealed columns, where I discussed how the United States government were concerned about how Superman comic books were using information about atomic energy that seemed like it A. knew too much about atomic energy and B. was making it seem like atomic energy was cartoonish, when the government wanted to stress how dangerous atomic energy was.

Amusingly enough, that was not the extent of the United States government's concern over comic books "knowing too much."

One of the biggest hit comic books of the Golden Age was the Blackhawk feature in Quality Comics' Military Comics. It was about a group of multi-national fighter pilots fighting against the Axis.

Well, their most common plane looked like this, as seen on the cover of Military Comics #42 in 1945....

The plane was designed by Reed Crandall, who had taken over the Blackhawk feature from the original artist, Chuck Cuidera.

The issue, though, was that the plane looked suspiciously like an experimental naval plane, Grumman’s XF5F-1 Skyrocket...

So the FBI visited Crandall and wanted to know how he was able to detail the new plane so meticulously, from all sorts of angles.

Well, Dwight Jon Zimmerman explained how it was resolved in a great article he did about comic books during World War II:

At one point during the meeting they heard the engine roar of a low-flying aircraft. Looking out the studio’s window, the trio saw a Skyrocket from Grumman’s nearby airfield performing aerial stunts as it conducted a test flight over Long Island Sound. The agents politely excused themselves.


Thanks to Dwight Jon Zimmerman and Reed Crandall for the amazing story!

Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed - Why did Tom Welling balk at doing the original version of Smallville's series finale?

Part 3 will be up soon! It's also about the Falcon's introduction, so I wanted to keep Part 3 close to Part 2! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com!

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