Comics in a Flash

Lady Blackhawk: Gone but not forgotten
By Eric S. Brown | Dec 19, 2012

When one thinks of comic books, usually images of super-powered heroes who can fly, toss around tanks or defy the laws of physics with how fast they can run spring to mind. Since the first appearance of Superman in 1938, superheroes have almost always gotten the recognition and fame when it comes to being the stars of the comic world. This was the case even back in the “golden age” of comic books, though there were heroes who were just everyday folks, fighting for justice, without capes and cowls.

The Blackhawk series is a prime example of this. It featured the title character and his team of pilots striving to save the world from both mundane and extraordinary threats. The Blackhawk series in the late 1950s gave birth to one of my personal favorite “human” characters of the DC universe: Zinda Blake, aka Lady Blackhawk. In issue 133 of “Blackhawk,” she was introduced but denied the chance to join Blackhawk’s team simply on the basis of being a woman. Lady Blackhawk returned both to aid the Blackhawks and serve as one of their major villains on and off throughout the rest of the title’s run until its cancellation.

Lady Blackhawk, however, survived the death of the series and was later bounced forward in time from the days of World War II to the modern era of the DC universe. It was here that I first encountered her and DC seemed to realize what an amazing character she had the potential to be. Zinda Blake became part of the Birds of Prey, an all-female team of heroes defending Gotham City. Alongside the Huntress, Black Canary and former Batgirl Barbara Gordon, Lady Blackhawk was truly given a chance to shine.

With piloting skills on the level of Hal Jordan, military training from Blackhawk himself and her own tough-as-nails style, she became the Birds of Prey’s pilot, chauffeur and heavily armed back-up when things went south.  Zinda saved the team on more than one occasion and grew into a fully developed character with deeply rooted personal issues and struggles. Zinda is as time-displaced as Captain America is in Marvel Comics. Zinda died a heroic death in the pages of DC’s Flashpoint event that gave birth to the New 52 universe that exists today, but she left behind a legacy of fans that spans generations from her original readers in the late 1950s to the younger readers who fell in love with in the pages of Birds of Prey.

Zinda Blake will never be as iconic as Wonder Woman or Supergirl, but she proved beyond the shadow of a doubt during her lifetime that one doesn’t have to have superpowers to make a difference and that a good woman is just as good, if not in fact better, than a good man. The New 52 is full of reboots and rebirths and though she is not part of the revived Blackhawk series to date, there is always hope in comics for characters to return from oblivion, so there’s hope yet that she may return and become a “Bird” once more.

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