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How The Final Issue of Blackhawk Was a Veiled Shot at DC Promotions

In Meta-Messages, I explore the context behind (using reader danjack's term) "meta-messages." A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I'll give you the context behind one such "meta-message."

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Matthew O., we take a look at an amusing little shot at DC promotions that occurred in the final issue of Blackhawk.

Blackhawk, of course, was a very popular series during the 1940s and 1950s about Blackhawk squadron, a group of ace pilots led by a man named, well, you know, Blackhawk. They were different nationalities but they fought together against the Axis. When the war ended, they continued to serve as vigilante flying heroes. When National Comics began to license (and then outright purchase) Quality Comics' characters, the first ones that they went for were Blackhawk, which continued its numbering at DC seamlessly (the art team even remained on the book).

Eventually, though, the series lost its popularity and was canceled in the late 1960s. It was revived in the late 1970s but that was a brief revival and was canceled again in 1977. Five years later, Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle revived the series in a clever back-to-basics approach that involved the book being set during World War II again.

While Spiegle's artwork was outstanding, one of the interesting aspects of the revival was the back-up stories that would appear frequently in the series as the "Detached Service Diaries" of the group (presumably so that Spiegle could continue to draw the book on a regular basis). They got a lot of really famous artists to do back-up stories, like Dave Cockrum...

John Severin...

and Alex Toth...

(But there were so many others, like Don Newton, Pat Boyette, Mike Sekowsky, Doug Wildey and more! There was even one issue that was entirely Detached Service Diaries!

The series lasted until Blackhawk #273, which turned out to be the actual end of the series for good (no more revivals that picked up the numbering, although Howard Chaykin did reboot the series entirely a few years later).

Mark Evanier felt that DC did not publicize the series very well. He once noted in an interview at Mike Koolman's Quality Comics site, "It wasn’t a huge seller but it wasn’t at the bottom and they liked the book a lot. There was a nice response; a lot of people liked it, so but they still didn’t publicize it. If you look in some of the issues of other DC books of that period they ran a major subscription push for all the DC books, a big double page ad that listed all the DC comics and Blackhawk was not on the list."

Evanier then explained that he was irked enough at DC promotions that it even led to the title of the final issue of the series!

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