Issue No. 108

January 1957

The Threat from the Abyss - Ships sailing through a region of the Atlantic east of the Azores are exploding and disappearing beneath the sea. Everyone seems mystified as to how this could happen, though some sort of submarine weapon seems like a pretty obvious explanation. Sure enough, when the Blackhawks are called in to investigate, they discover a secret Red base on the floor of the ocean from which are fired curiously slow moving missiles. They first capture a Red submarine which they believe to be the source of the missiles, but discover it is merely carrying supplies to the base. They invade the base and fight the evil genius, Dr. Ivan Algov, inventor of the submarine missiles. (DLT: This was an amazingly predictable story without one surprise or twist in it.)

Killer Shark's Secret Weapon - It's not much of a secret, since the cover blares that Killer Shark's new weapon is a Killer Whale. The story opens with Blackhawk showing Hendrickson and Andre a new radio reciever strapped to Blackie's leg that will allow the team's mascot to receive commands from miles away. They all agree it is wonderful. Just then they get a shortwave report of a huge whale attacking shipping. Blackhawk speculates that it may be a giant mammal unleashed from prehistoric times by Pacific atomic tests (certainly, that was a well used plot in both comics and B movies). But when the Black Knights attack the giant whale in their sleek jets, they discover that it is proof to their armor-piercing rockets. They decide to use atomic depth charges (no worry about nuclear proliferation in those days) when before their eyes, it swallows a whole frieghter. Then their radios transmit Killer Shark's bragging about his newest weapon and its invincibility. He triggers "some electrical interference" that kills the Blackhawks engines. They bail out just before their planes crash in the ocean and gather in an inflatable life raft, which is immediately swallowed by the mechanical whale. Killer Shark takes them to his sub-sea base where he has them walk a plank into a shark tank. But Blackhawk realizes the sharks are rubber dummies, smashes the tank, and in the confusion that follows the Blackhawks beat the bad guys (with a little help from Blackie, who is directed by his radio receiver to attack Killer Shark). The Blackhawks make their escape in the mechanical whale. Killer Shark sends them a message that the whale will sef-destruct in five minutes. The Black Knights by having themselves blown out of the whale's spout. Killer Shark makes his escape.

The Mutiny of the Red Sailors - The team lands in Hong Kong to have their planes serviced and decide to see the sights while there. On the docks, they encounter some sailors from a Red merchant ship fighting their comrades. They intervene and the rescued sailors explain that they hate communism and want to defect. However, soon Hong Kong is plagued by a rash of sabotage which the Blackhawks trace to the defecting sailors. Of course, they were not really defecting and the moral of the story is summed up in the last line, "never take a deserter from communism at his word...until he proves he means it!"

This was the first issue of Blackhawk published by DC after the title was bought from Quality. The difference in editorial style was primarily noticable in the supplemental features since the Blackhawk stories had been produced while the book was still Quality. The big difference was the absence of the Chop Chop comedy short. This was replaced by some of DC's standard one-page comedies like "Shorty" and "Varsity Vic." Other supplemental material like "Buzzy's 'Famous Books' Quizz" and advertisements, including one for Jack Kirby's Challengers of the Unknown in Showcase, give the book a distinctive "DC" look. It would take several more issues before the last of the backlogged Quality Blackhawk stories were used up and new stories more in line with DC editorial policy began to appear. From then on, the Black Knights battled super-criminals instead of Red agents and they became more Americanized and less international in their scope. The artwork did not change noticably since Chuck Cuidera and Dick Dillin moved along with Blackhawk from Quality to DC. But the flavor of the book changed again, some would say for the worse (though I am not one of them), as it had before at the end of World War II.



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