Bartholomew Hawk (Blackhawk)

blackhawkfilmLucy W.‘s request takes us back to the war times, as the next character in list is Blackhawk, the ace pilot created in the 1940s. This war hero only appeared in the Blackhawk serial from 1952: portrayed by Kirk Alyn, Blackhawk is portrayed as the leader of The International Brotherhood, a flying investigative force hired to expose and capture a spy named Laska, and who ends up uncovering an underworld spy operation run by the mysterious Leader. The comics version debuted as a character branded Quality Comics, while DC acquired him in a second moment. At least three different men donned the Blackhawk identity in the comics, and of course, in here we’re going to see the first one, whose adventures are set in Earth One. Let’s see together.

Bartholomew “Bart” Hawk was born in the United States, the son of a couple of Polish immigrants. Not much is known about his early life, apart from the fact that he grew up with a younger brother, Jack, and a younger sister, Connie. At a certain point, he enlisted in the military, where he emerged as an extremely skilled pilot. A young man at the beginning of the 1930s, he followed from home the rise of the Nazi Germany and watched in horror as his parents’ homecountry, Polland, was invaded and occupied in an action that started World War II. Eager to do something to protect his ancestors’ land, but unable to do it via the Army since the US didn’t show any sign of joining the war in Europe yet, Bart decided to move on himself, personally piloting a plane to the occupied Polland, avoiding the German controls; his siblings came along, wanting to help as they could. The three Hawks settled in their parents’ old family farm, where Bart modified his Grumman XF5F Skyrocket plane to make it even more effective in battle; he also painted it jet black, a distinctive mark that would have soon made him legendary. Bart Hawk put his plane and his remarkable skills at disposal of the Polish Air Force, the last line of resistance against blackhawkcomics1the advancing Germany, and in a short time he became a celebrity and a hero. Due to his black plane, he earned the nickname “Blackhawk”, the ace pilot who protected Polland nearly single-handedly. However, due to the successes obtained by the Polish Air Force, the Nazis deployed their most formidable air force: the Butcher Squadron, led by the infallible Luftwaffe Captain Baron von Tepp. The Baron was indeed a formidable pilot, and his Squadron shot down the entire Polish Air Force…but for a single black plane, Blackhawk’s one, who retaliated by destroying six German planes all by himself. Von Tepp in person hit the enemy plane, and force Bart Hawk to crash land in the countryside. Believing not to be followed, Bart took shelter in his farm…but von Tepp was right on his trails, and bombed the entire place, razing the farm to the ground with the three Hawks inside.

Bart survived the attack, but his brother and sister were not so lucky (actually Jack was barely alive, and he would have later been abducted by Nazi agents and converted to their cause as the villainous Black Mask). On his siblings’ corpses, Blackhawk swore revenge against von Tepp and all the Nazis, and as soon as he recovered, he resumed flying and fighting. Blackhawk gained the fame of an “angel of vengeance”, becoming a living legend for the other pilots. Soon, some kin spirits joined him in his fight, a number of skilled pilots from all around the world: French André Blanc Dumont, Swedish Olaf Bjornson, Pole Stanislaus, Chinese Liu “Chop Chop” Huang, Dutchman Hans Hendrickson, Texan Chuck Wilson and, later, American Zinda “Lady Blackhawk” Blake, all of them eager to join the legendary Blackhawk in his quest for freedom and vengeance. Together, they formed the Blackhawk Squadron, the most skilled pilots seen in the European resistence. Not wanting to endanger anybody else, Blackhawk chose as a base a deserted island in the Orkneys, promptly named Blackhawk Island. From there, the Squadron flew over Europe, attacking like ghosts and blackhawkcomics2disappearing immediately after. The Blackhawk Squadron answered to Winston Churchill only, and loyally obeyed to his orders…but for one time, when Captain von Tepp managed to capture one of Blackhawk’s allies. Blinded by his thirst for vengeance, Bart led his men to the rescue, first sending his nemesis an ultimatum, obviously ignored. Just before his ally was executed, the Blackhawk Squadron intervened, and in the following struggle, Bart managed to abduct von Tepp. He didn’t kill the Nazi, rather he brought him to Blackhawk Island…where he challenged him to an aerial duel. The Baron accepted the challenge, and his skills proved to match Blackhawk’s ones, as both the pilots were eventually forced to crash-land on the island, shooting down each other. Once out of their planes, both men drew their guns for a final confrontation…and Blackhawk proved to be faster, finally killing his loathed enemy. With his personal vendetta completed, Blackhawk was now completely focused on winning the war, ready to take flight again to fight for the freedom of his homeland.

Bart Hawk is a hard and severe man, molded by loss and pain; deeply patriotic and idealistic, he fights for the freedom of Europe, and he steadily pursues his personal vendetta against the man who killed his family. As Blackhawk, he’s a living legend in the air force, an ace pilot who’s shot down more enemy planes than everyone else; he’s also an accomplished marksman and a good hand-to-hand combatant, albeit he obviously belongs to the air. Everywhere in Europe, and after the war in the whole world, Nazis, Communists and supervillains learn to fear the song that anticipates the Squadron’s arrival: “Over land, over sea/We fight to make men free/Of danger we don’t care/We’re the Blackhawks!

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