SPACEHAWKMedium: Comic books
Published by: Funnies, Inc.
First Appeared: 1940
Creator: Basil Wolverton
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Basil Wolverton, one of comics' truly unique talents, is best remembered for his grotesqueries — amazingly (and hilariously) ugly people, starting with Lena the Hyena and going on to grace comic book covers from the early Mad to DC Comics' Plop. But he did many other kinds of
cartoonery as well, from science fiction to some truly striking Bible illustrations. Spacehawk is his only colorfully-dressed adventure hero.
Spacehawk had no other name. He also had no fixed base of operations, other than his space ship, and no sidekicks, assistants, official contacts, love interests or other supporting characters. He had but one mission in life — to protect the innocent throughout the Solar System, and mete out the occasional gruesome fate to vanquished evildoers. Comics historian Mike Benton called him "A grim gunslinger — the dark side of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon."
Wolverton both wrote and drew Spacehawk, who started in the fifth issue (June, 1940) of Target Comics. The character wasn't one of Target's most prominent features, appearing only once (August, 1940) on the cover (which was usually given to The Target, who thoughtfully provided villains with something to shoot at by putting a target on his chest). Nonetheless, the series drew a lot of mail. Wolverton's talent for creating disturbing images, which truly blossomed in the late 1940s, was already manifesting itself in some of the most repulsive aliens yet seen in comics, and parents of frightened youngsters were writing in to complain.
The feature suffered a major change of venue as the U.S. became involved in World War II. It was decided that readers no longer wanted their heroes roaming freely through the Solar System of the future. Wolverton was therefore instructed to bring Spacehawk home to 20th century America, where (and when) he would help defend the U.S. from its foes. The cartoonist made the change under protest, convinced it would kill the series. He was right. Spacehawk's final Target Comics appearance was in vol. 3 #10 (December, 1942).
The character lay dormant for the next few decades. In the 1980s and '90s, several independent comic book publishers brought out new editions of Wolverton's lesser-known science fiction material, and Spacehawk turned up in a few of those collections. In 1989, Dark Horse Comics (Hellboy) gave him a mini-series of his own — three issues in which Wolverton reprints were mixed with new stories about the character by other creators. There are occasional rumors of a complete one-volume reprint of the Wolverton version, but mostly, Spacehawk just moulders away in ancient, inaccessible issues of Target Comics.