Issue No. 250Jan.-Feb. 1977
Wheel of Death (Steve Skeates-writer, Ric Estrada & George Evans & Frank Springer-artists, Carl Gafford-colorist, Jack C. Harris-story editor): The War Wheel chases Blackhawk back into the ocean. While underwater, the War Wheel disgorges frogmen led by Killer Shark to chase Blackhawk. Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Andre has developed real feelings for Pru, one of Patch's female mercenaries. Patch herself is not happy with the way her girls are cozying up to the Blackhawks. Chuck leads Andre, Stan and Olaf on a mission to find Blackhawk. Chopper is too injured to go with them. On the beach, Blackhawk and Killer Shark slug it out. Blackhawk is picked up by the rest of the team (Chuck had homed in on the directional beam still coming from Blackhawk's downed plane). Back at Blackhawk Island, Hendrickson is barely breathing and Elsa tries to drag him back to the medical lab. Jet planes engage Chuck, Olaf, and Stan in a dogfight while the War Wheel chases Blackhawk and Andre across the island. Olaf and Stan are shot down but manage to eject. With his the only plane left in the sky and his buddies on the ground helpless against the War Wheel, Chuck makes a suicidal dive and destroys the War Wheel with his plane. It seems impossible that he could survive the crash.
This was a good story and it set up several interesting arcs for future stories, but they were never finished because this was the last issue of this incarnation of the Blackhawks. Blackhawk Bylines, the letters page, had a rather frank discussion of the fate of the comic. Sales had never been good enough to justify continued publication. The writers talked of a possible comeback but it is obvious from their tone that they didn't believe that likely. The writers also penned a poignant description of the Blackhawks' return to Blackhawk Island with Chuck's body and the severely injured Chopper. They suggested that, finally, the Blackhawks really retired and went on to lead more sedate, civilian lives. Could be. Certainly, no other Blackhawk stories were ever set in contemporary time.
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