Yet another IDW/Lion Forge comic that exists in a strange netherworld between reboot and continuation (much like the previously reviewed Knight Rider), this Airwolf: Airstrikes trade paperback is an anthology of mostly-unrelated stories starring a helicopter that sort of resembles the Airwolf you remember, starring people that at least have the same names as the ones you remember from the show.
In case you are unfamiliar with the TV series, Airwolf is a super-powerful stealthy attack helicopter stolen by it’s creator (a psychopath) until recovered by Stringfellow Hawke (and you thought Star Wars names were nuts!). Instead of returning the chopper to ‘The Firm’ Hawke and co-pilot Dominic Santini hold the machine hostage. Hawke demands that The Firm search for his brother, MIA in Vietnam, in return he will fly missions for them.
The comic series seems similar at first glance, but the devil is in the details. Hawke seems more like the standard action hero than the tortured loner from the earliest episodes of the show. Dominic Santini isn’t Ernest Borgnine, but a young black man (adopted by Dom). This change fits fine, as Dom raised Stringfellow and St. John Hawke after they were orphaned, but it does raise questions about the timeline if you are including the show as a reference. Is it still set in the 80’s? Was it shifted forward, Marvel style? The ‘Archangel’ here is also female, though the Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III version makes an appearance at the end.
Much like the Knight Rider series, Airwolf: Airstrikes seems like a simplified Michael Bay version of the show. Lots of explosions and butt-kicking but light on actual character development. Your hero is a pilot of the most advanced combat helo in the world, why does he also need to be a crack shot, hand to hand combat expert, and snarky quipster? I can’t imagine this String sitting on his dock playing a cello.
I wonder if I’m hoping for too much out of these creators on the licensed comics like this. I don’t think so, though. The Samurai Jack and Powerpuff Girls both have similar comics – but they are clear continuations especially in the case of Samurai Jack, and are handled a fair bit more skillfully then here. Anyway, click here if you want your own copy to see for yourself, and as always, thanks to Netgalley for the review copy.