By: Mike Costa (writer), Cafu (penciller), Bit (inker), Guy Major (colorist)

The Story: The moment you let the media in, everything goes to hell.

The Review: Remember how last month, in Voodoo #5, I mentioned that I hate research and I don’t keep up with the news as well I ought?  To make it clear, that applies to the comic book biz, as well.  So it probably shouldn’t surprise you to learn that two weeks after picking up Blackhawks for the first time and enjoying the heck out of it and looking forward to following it diligently, I discovered that it’s on the chopping block.

To be frank, having only just leaped onboard, it’s hard to get too choked up about the loss, but I’m feeling some pangs, nonetheless.  Costa won me over almost instantly with his smart, nuanced writing last issue, and he continues to impress here.  The opening is almost an exercise in how to deliver an action-packed scene, convey the necessary exposition, and make it all sound natural and lively.  In just a few lines of dialogue, you know exactly what’s going on with the creepy-crawly hive mind of robots, and you also get some great character bits (asked if he can land a plane with power, Canada replies, “Girl, I could land a brick.”).

Costa can also tackle complex political and social issues credibly, without dumbing down the ideas or going over the top (see Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray in Freedom Fighters).  The discussion between Blackhawks spokesperson Mr. Schmidt and the U.N. representatives over the team’s mission is a perfect example.  Costa renders the debate over emerging technology and society’s ability to absorb in a very well-balanced fashion, though colored by Mr. Schmidt’s dry rebuttals to the pointed questions he receives:

“Change is destructive, yes, but are you really trying to avoid what our future is supposed to be?”

“Well, maybe out future is ‘supposed to be’ some supervirus wiping out 98% of the population and leaving only those naturally immune.  Would you suggest shutting down our epidemiology centers and stopping scientists who work on cures?”

Costa also has a firm grasp on pacing.  This issue constantly shifts gears, from fast and furious to quiet drama to slow burn to rising intensity, and yet never once dips below a high line of tension.  After the fairly talky scene in the Blackhawks briefing room, we get even more talk between Attila and Irish, but in contrast to the more intellectual material preceding them, their chat is pure, emotional storytelling, gripping and enlightening for both characters.  Costa then follows up with a ticking time bomb to the issue’s explosive finish, keeping you intrigued the entire way.

What’s particularly distressing about the title’s cancellation is Cafu once again getting kicked off a project, hardly the way to treat one of DC’s finer artists.  True, there’s a minor amount of sameness to the characters’ faces, but you can’t really notice with the amount of effort he puts into giving them all distinguishing features.  Cafu also knows how to play with change of POV to keep the action from stagnating, even when it’s just a bunch of talking heads.  Bit’s finishes on a few pages results in a noticeable decline in quality, but really it’s just not as fine-tuned as when Cafu does the whole thing himself, and it’s mostly covered up by Major’s great colors.

Conclusion: It really is a shame this title’s getting cancelled, as it boasts some truly commendable writing and art.  Of all the books getting the plugged pulled on them in a couple months, this one probably deserves it the least.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I don’t know if Costa intended it this way, but Mr. Schmidt’s remark about Justice League International being a “public face for more colorful, public threats” feels like a legit burn about the quality and substance not only of that team, but their title.  If we’re talking purely about merits, Justice League International probably deserves the axe more than Blackhawks.  What do they have that Blackhawks doesn’t?  Oh, yeah—Batman.