The Time Bullet is alive if not necessarily kicking … a state of existence that also happens to describe the topic of today’s post: Lady Blackhawk!
Zinda Blake debuted in 1959 – the same year that DC introduced a certain Maid Of Might – but never achieved the same notoriety as other female characters of the era or even the aviatrix’s own distaff counterpart, Blackhawk.
The reasons for her also-ran status are painfully evident. By the late ’50s, the Blackhawk character was far removed from his WWII heyday and DC isn’t exactly known for its treatment of properties acquired from defunct publishers. (Cases in point: Captain Marvel, the Charlton Action Heroes and the infuriating Milestone debacle.) A newly introduced heroine in a comic far removed from DC’s A-list isn’t exactly riding the fast track to stardom.
Complicating matters, Zinda’s most notable story-line involved her abduction and subsequent subjugation to a fourth-rate villain. By the time that saga played itself out, no one – not even the characters in the book itself – seemed to care.
The comic was finally put out of its misery by the end of the 1960s. Although the Blackhawk team would subsequently be dusted off for an unsuccessful revival or two, Zinda Blake wasn’t seen again until the “classic” Zero Hour event in 1994. Supposedly lost in the mists of time for decades, the still-youthful Lady Blackhawk settled into a supporting role in Guy Gardner: Warrior that lasted until the Green Lantern spin-off met its eventual demise.
Lady Blackhawk returned from limbo once again in 2004 when Gail Simone added the character to the Birds Of Prey line-up. Re-purposed as a tough-talking, two-fisted throwback from another era – a much less meat-headed version of Mark Millar’s Captain America – Zinda stole more than her share of scenes until Birds Of Prey was canceled. After that high point, the heroine once again found herself … abducted and brainwashed by a fourth-rate villain.
The more that things change …
There is the possibility of a happy ending, however. DC is cleaning house once again to undo the last set of changes intended to forever alter their fictional universe. As a consequence, Gail Simone is returning to Birds Of Prey along with Barbara Gordon, Black Canary, Huntress and – last but not least – Lady Blackhawk. In celebration of Simone’s feisty interpretation of the character, the Time Bullet is proud to present the secret, Golden Age origin of Zinda Blake.
Golden Age, you ask? Didn’t Lady Blackhawk premiere in 1959?
Yes … and no. During the Quality Comics era, a young woman who looked and acted very much like the Zinda Blake we know and love flew to Blackhawk Island – guns a’ blazing – and pronounced herself a member of the team. As is often the case with Golden Age heroines, this mysterious aviatrix showed a lot more moxie than her Silver Age successor. Heck, she wasn’t even brainwashed!
So, to introduce a character who may – or may not – have inspired everybody’s favorite gun-slinging gal in a mini-skirt, here’s “The Blonde Bomber” from Military Comics #20. The art is by the great Reed Crandall.
* As a note of warning, the following story does contain racial stereotypes that are undoubtedly offensive to the modern eye. However, these sort of depictions were common throughout society at that time and there’s no value in pretending that such prejudices never existed. In fact, given the way certain racial groups are portrayed in modern stories like Kick-Ass, maybe we should take a closer look at what’s considered acceptable these days. American culture has not traveled quite as far as everyone would like to believe …