Spacehawk Goes To War


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Basil Wolverton’s Spacehawk was one of the artist’s earliest, and most popular, strips. The “Powerful, Mysterious Man From Outer Space”  debuted in the fifth issue of Novelty Press’  Target Comics (June, 1940) and proceeded to warp readers’ minds with some of the most unusual-looking alien beings in the nascent medium’s history.

( A good example of  the bizarre villains Wolverton created for Spacehawk can be found in Fantagraphics’ excellent 2009 compilation, Supermen! The First Wave Of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941)

Sadly, by the 13th issue Target’s publisher decreed that the publication’s characters concentrate their efforts on aiding America’s WWII efforts. This shift in direction was accompanied by a less than subtle spread detailing Uncle Sam’s new assignments for each of Novelty’s adventurers.

Art by Ben Thompson

Suddenly the futuristic Spacehawk found himself stuck in the 20th century battling Axis spies and saboteurs, a situation Wolverton greatly disliked. Although the feature continued in Target until 1942, the writer-artist correctly pointed out in later years that the “zip had been taken out of the strip.”

Although the following untitled tale appeared in the selfsame issue (Target Comics, Vol. 2 #1, 1941) that featured Uncle Sam’s marching orders to Spacehawk, Wolverton still managed to sneak in a few trademark sci-fi grotesqueries to more than offset some rather wooden attempts to pacify Novelty Press’ Powers That Be.

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