Blackjack and His Flying Aces

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Giant Ultiman #1, November 2001

Story and art: Mike Roberts

I'm not sure how to classify this one. A few self-aware lines of dialogue and the character of Dr. Vulcan probably push it into the realm of parody, but basically it is a straight imitation of a Blackhawk story from the early '60s. It features a typical sci-fi plot involving a giant alien who seems to be threat to the whole planet, but is actually just misunderstood. He displays fantastic powers when he is attacked by the military and even beats off the Flying Aces. The alien is trying to rescue his people, who have been shrunk to subatomic size, and have been lost in the sand on the island where he landed. Blackjack learns of this when Dr. Vulcan accidently shrinks him to the same size as the rest of the aliens. He is returned to normal size and returns the shrunken alien planet to its protector, who gets back in his ship and takes off for outer space.

This was a pretty good story. It did a nice job of recapturing the feel of those '60s Blackhawk stories. The writing was quite good and the artwork, while not up to Dick Dillin's level, was quite respectable for a small, independent comic. I especially liked the aliens, who reminded me of some of the wild alien menaces from the early Marvel books like Jouney Into Mystery (who can forget great names like Fin Fang Foom). Roberts even has a neat trick for including the non-PC version of Chop Chop. He makes him an alien called Shamcat. Sure, Shamcat acts and talks just like the offensive characture that was the original Chop Chop, but since he's an alien, it's okay (hey, it worked for George Lucas in The Phantom Menace, didn't it). I enjoyed "The Thing from Zugan" and would be happy to read more Blackjack and the Flying Aces stories.

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