The War Wheel

From Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe 25

     "The War Wheel was invented by Prof. Merson, who willingly defected to the Nazis even though it was believed at the time that he had been kidnapped.
     It was in May, 1940, that the War Wheel first went into action, wrecking a town in Belgium. It was a gigantic wheel, spiked and heavily armored so that not even the largest artillery shell could penetrate it. Buildings and vehicles were crushed as it inexorably rolled along.
     The Blackhawks landed and helped fight off Nazi soldiers just after the War Wheel left. Surprisingly, they found the War Wheel's tracks left the town, then mysteriously stopped. It must have been taken away by air, yet how could any aircraft lift this juggernaut?
     The Blackhawks used every weapon they could think of against the War Wheel, from aerial bombs to Chop-Chop crashing his plane into it; nothing worked.
     Blackhawk found Merson watching and demanded that he tell how his creation could be stopped. Merson replied that he had no idea. Only the men inside could stop it.
     Blackhawk conceived his own scheme for stopping the great Wheel. he attached high voltage wires to a fence in its path. When the Wheel struck it, the shock killed the men within and the huge machine stopped and crashed to Earth (see Blackhawk No. 252).
     A Nazi agent - a woman called Domino - rescued Merson but, though she could have killed Blackhawk, she spared him.
      Later, when Blackhawk was on a mission to trap Domino, the other Blackhawks received word that the War Wheel was active again - this time in a Spanish town against people there giving aid to the forces fighting the Nazis.
     The Blackhawks did find out how the War Wheel vanished - it was lifted by a group of dirigibles. The Blackhawks attacked and damaged the dirigibles, rendering them incapable of supporting the Wheel. Stanislaus came up with the way to defeat the Wheel, luring it into quicksand, where it bogged down. The men inside surrendered (see Blackhawk No. 263).
     It was just after this that Hendrickson shot and killed Domino when he saw her aiming a gun at Blackhawk.
     In 1953, the tiny country of Malkaria was invaded, supposedly by one of the countries in the Soviet block. The aggressors had a new War Wheel, which promised to win the day for them. However, Blackhawk repeated Stan's trick by luring it into quicksand, where it sank, drowning the crew (see Blackhawk No. 56). The Wheel turned up time and again, only to be defeated by the Blackhawks or Task Force X (see Suicide Squad).
     It seems this War Wheel was salvaged by the Blackhawks, as it later turned up as an exhibit in their Victory Museum on Blackhawk Island."

DLT: I like this "history" of the War Wheel, particularly the way it meshes the "origin" of the War Wheel during World War II, in issue No. 252 from the Evanier/Speigle Revival, 1982 to 1984, with its actual origin in issue No. 56, September 1952. Its rationalization for the War Wheel's exhibition in the Blackhawks' museum is also plausible. The War Wheel made over a dozen appearances, sometimes as a near impossible challenge to the Black Knights, sometimes as a minor plot device. The idea of a gigantic wheel rolling across the country side, crushing everything in its path, is certainly fascinating. Its interest was apparent to whoever decided what would appear on the covers because the War Wheel made more covers than any other villianous device. In addition to the issues mentioned above, it also made the cover of No. 250. Just like the Blackhawks, the War Wheel has made guest apperances in other comic books, first in Secret Origins #14, May 1987, with the Suicide Squad. A war machine that, if not the War Wheel, is certainly a close relative appeared in Batman & Captain America in 1996. The War Wheel was featured in an Amalgam title, Super Soldier: Man of War No. 1, June 1997. It's most recent appearance is in Men of War, Wheel of Peace, by Michael Hutchison (published in Fanzing #23, Dec 1999), a story about Sgt. Rock, Easy Company and Gravedigger battling a War Wheel on Christmas day, 1945. It mentions the Blackhawks' earlier encounters with War Wheels.


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