In the Limelight

There are many occasions in comics when the super-ladies need to break through – or fly over – that glass ceiling. Through their intelligence, abilities, bravery, and might, powerful women of comics have joined the boys’ clubs. This month, Lady Blackhawk, the fierce, high flying DC superheroine who did just that is celebrating 60 years in comics.

Creators Jack Schiff and Dick Dillin introduced Lady Blackhawk/Zinda Blake in Blackhawk #133 (February 1959). Determined to become the first woman in the famous Blackhawks unit of World War II, she trained herself to pilot several types of aircraft and became an expert in weaponry and forms of combat.

An opportunity to join presented itself when she helped rescue one of the members from a pirate called the Scavenger. But though she offered aid to the team, they told her that the Blackhawk code forbade women from joining their ranks.

Despite their rebuff, Zinda ended up rescuing the entire Blackhawk team when Scavenger attacked again. This time, Blackhawk himself told her that she would be considered an honorary member. Following several exploits with the Blackhawks, Zinda was attacked by the Nazi operative Killer Shark who used a chemical potion to brainwash her into becoming Queen Killer Shark. During this period, she fought her former teammates on a number of occasions before she was free from the potion’s effects.

When Zero Hour took place in ’94, the time warping effects pushed her to the present DC time period. She fought alongside Guy Gardner, Steel, and an alternate version of Batgirl traveling through different time periods from the Wild West to far in the future. Once situated in time, she frequented Guy’s nightclub, Warrior’s, and joined his team, using her pilot skills to battle villains. During their missions, she often fought alongside former Green Lantern Arisia, Tiger-Man, and Buck Wargo.

Lady Blackhawk joined Black Canary, Oracle, and Huntress in the Birds of Prey in 2004. As the team’s pilot, she insisted on being in control of any flying duties. During her time there, Zinda and the Birds of Prey went up against a new incarnation of her old foe, Killer Shark.

Natalie Reed, the second version of Lady Blackhawk, debuted in the 1988 prestige format miniseries, Blackhawk. She was introduced as a member of the Blackhawk Squadron from the early 1940s onward. Not only did she have flying skills, she was an expert in aeronautical engineering and chief designer for an airplane factory.

There have also been a few other versions of Lady Blackhawk over the years. A jetpack-using group of soldiers called Lady Blackhawks appeared in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In the Flashpoint storyline there was an alternate version of Zinda, who was a member of the elite soldiers, Team-7. A team of Lady Blackhawks provided flying support for the Society of Superheroes on an alternate earth. Kendra Saunders took the name of Lady Blackhawk in Dark Nights: Metal, as the leader of the Blackhawks.

Some of Lady Blackhawk’s key comic issues (along with Blackhawk #133) are Blackhawk #140, #143, #147, #151, and #200, Guy Gardner: Warrior #24, Birds of Prey #75, #100, #107, #108, #112, #115, and #116, and Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1. Most of her significant appearances fall into very affordable price ranges, however The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #48 values a near mint copy of her debut in Blackhawk #133 at $1,000.

Lady Blackhawk hasn’t seen mission time of late, but there’s no telling when her fellow heroes will need a good pilot with strong nerves to fly them out of danger.