Observing Veterans Day is just another great reason to post about a war/military comic! Once again, the pages turn in a DC comic, as we see the famous stories in G.I. Combat! The men and women who served this great country deserve our appreciation, and will always get mine. Now, lets talk about the awesome action in this book!
There are only two stories in this book, but between them, the advertisements, and the extras, you can’t go wrong with this book. Speaking of stories, the first one (Battle Origin of the Haunted Tank) gives us a look at The Haunted Tank! Crafted by Robert Kanigher (writer), and the legendary Russ Heath (art and cover). If you’ve never read a story with the Haunted Tank, get an issue immediately. Great, fun stuff! The second story, “My Witness–the Enemy,” is a good one as it has some aquatic action! Frogmen, boats, a submarine, pistols and planes, this one has it all! Written by Hank Chapman, with art by Jack Abel (letters by Gaspar Saladino).
On this Veterans Day, I thought it fitting for #WarComicsMonth I’d spotlight Marvel Comic’s greatest military man, Sgt. Fury! Yes, kids, before he was a super spy, and head of S.H.I.E.L.D., he was a bad man serving in the United States military! Now he’s portrayed as more of a thinker that’s reserved and doesn’t soil his hands in physical combat, but back in WWII, he could kick butt like no other (well, except maybe Captain America of course).
In this over-sized issue, we get two stories to sink our teeth into! The first, “Armageddon (from Sgt. Fury 29, 1966),” shows our man Fury, and his seemingly never-ending battle with his arch nemesis Baron Strucker! These two men have been all but equals over the years (with Fury almost always getting the upper hand of course), and the disdain for each other is at full capacity! Written by Roy Thomas, with art by Dick Ayers (pencils), and John Tartaglione (inks). Then, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos must face “The Incident in Italy!” This one must’ve been a fan favorite, as it’s been reprinted at least twice (originally published in Sgt. Fury 30, 1966)! The same creative team brought that one to life as the previous issue (and the cover to this issue as well!). Both tales were edited by Stan Lee and lettered by Sam Rosen!
For November, its been brought to my attention (via Twitter), that there is a hashtag (#warcomicsmonth) spotlighting military comics such as Our Fighting Forces and the entire genre! This is a genre that I didn’t really get into until the last decade, but it’s one that is chocked full of brilliant work by some of the best creators in comic book history!
In the Marvel vs. DC debate, there is a lot of room for speculation and conversation on which company is best as far as content over the years. If you look at each genre, rather than overall, you can see a pretty wide gap in a the war/military comics corner. DC comics had several great titles, and certainly the better between the two comic book giants.
This book contains three stories (plus some extras), and the first stars that lovable group, The Losers! Captain Storm, Johnny Cloud, Gunner, and Sarge, are always finding themselves in situations with seemingly no way out, but always manage to find a way to survive and get to the next mission alive! Written by Robert Kanigher, with art by Ross Andru (pencils) and Mike Esposito (inks). The second story gives us perennial war comics giant Sam Glanzman (script, pencils, inks)! If you’ve never seen one of his stories before, definitely grab some of his material. A one page story/pinup by Ken Barr (script by Raymond Marais) about Atilla the Hun, is a cool piece for sure. Another one page story, this one by John Costanza, brings some humor to the book for a slight change of pace. And lastly, Great Battles of History brings us The Fall of Constantinople! Art by Ric Estrada! All of this is hidden beneath a wonderful cover by the master himself, Joe Kubert! You’ll be seeing a lot of his covers in these war books, as he was a machine at pumping out very high quality work for DC comics for decades.
In the 1970s, Marvel was spewing out tons of reprint books. One title that started out as a reprint book but eventually changed to new material, was War is Hell! With issue number nine, we were introduced to John Kowalski and the manifestation of Death itself. Kowalski dies but Death will not let him cross over to the other side. Not until he executes a few deeds in Death’s name! A bizarre series to say the least, but also a very good one. It puts the main character in interesting situations, and is very mature for its time. Definitely seek out the back issues, they are well worth your shekels (even the early issues that are reprints).
Naturally, when people hear the name Chris Claremont (writer), they think of the X-Men, and rightly so. He wrote that book for seventeen years, and took something from the ash heap, and turned it into the juggernaut it is today. The book’s new direction was conceived by Tony Isabella and Roy Thomas though, but ultimately, Claremont put the words on the pages! The artistic duties fell on whomever the Marvel offices could grab, but this was not a curse by any stretch. The covers were done by Gil Kane (pencils #9 – 14, with inks by a combination over the issue of Ernie Chan, TomPalmer, and MikeEsposito), and Herb Trimpe (#15). Interiors had the talents of Dick Ayers (pencils) and Frank Springer (inks) on #9 and 10, Don Perlin (pencils) and Sal Trapani (inks) on #11 with inks by Dave Hunt on #12, George Evans on #14, and Herb Trimpe on #13 and 15! Not too shabby, eh?
Every once in a while, I feel the urge to spotlight a war/military comic. One of my favorites is Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos! I’ve always loved the concept of a rough and tumble team that could handle anything. The mixture of personalities, and different ethnic backgrounds was pretty cool. There were down times with humor and fun, but when it was time for action, they were ready! This issue in particular was good because not only was the regular cast there but also their CO (Commanding Officer), Happy Sawyer! In this story (a bit of a Casablanca rip off), we see Sawyer remembering a mission that saw him fighting everyone from Arabs, French, and Nazis!
Although sometimes war/military books can get redundant, this one (along with War is Hell) were always pretty good. This issue had Gary Friedrich (with changes by Allyn Brodsky) scripting, and we all know that Gary wrote some fantastic stuff back in the Bronze Age (Ghost Rider, Frankenstein). The interior pencils are by Dick Ayers, and inks by John Severin. Both of these gentlemen don’t get mentioned anywhere near as much as they should, so definitely check out there work and give them their due! Colors by Bob Sharen, and letters by Jean Izzo. The cover was by John Severin (originally Sgt Fury 72, 1969)!
After spotlighting a Marvel military comic last time, I figured I’d go with one from DC Comics this time around. The only series that I actually own some of the comics from is G.I. Combat. OK, I think I own one or two issues of Weird War Tales, but that was just different, and not really a war/military comic. In this wacky issue, we see not only a band of brothers fighting against tyranny, but…a baby being born amidst the strife! You can’t help but love a title like…”Battlefield Bundle.”
Reading half a dozen or so issues of this title has really opened my eyes to the great work by Bob Kanigher (writer), and Sam Glanzman (artist) on this title. With Ben Oda lettering, and the fantastic cover by the legendary Joe Kubert, you can’t deny the level of cool with this comic book! A back-up story by Kanigher and artist Ric Estrada, finishes off this must have book!
With Memorial Day in the rear-view mirror just slightly, I thought it would be cool to spotlight one of Marvel’s military comics from back in the day. None was better than the always entertaining, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos! This rag-tag group was always either kicking butt or making with the wise comments. Never a dull moment! In this tale, Fury is laid up, so Dugan must take charge, and whip these new guys into shape! A new class of recruits that are less than desirable need to be trained and it’s up to Dum Dum Dugan to do it! Also look for a special appearance by Nick Fury and Happy Sawyer!
This title always had great creators on it. From Roy Thomas, to Jack Kirby, and more. This issue however, is presented by the incredible team of Gary Friedrich (writer), Dick Ayers (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Artie Simek (letters), and John Severin (cover)! These fine creators did a copious amount of work on this title, and they really made it their own for a time. Well, sit back and relax, because this one is a real treat! Just look at the fantastic work by Ayers and Esposito!