Weird War Tales 77, 1979 “Three Brothers…Three Dooms!”

Typically in this title, you found multiple stories (an anthology book), with perhaps one being the center of attention based off of the cover, and one or two more of lesser length to fill out pages and creep you out. Well, in this issue, you get a full length story for the ages! A Lovecraftian beast, Adolph Hitler, and three brothers from small town U.S.A. that witness it all! And before we get started, just look at this incredible cover by Joe Kubert! The man was an absolute master!

As Death explains, we see three brothers from Baytown, in their youth, displaying feats of amazing psychic abilities. A newspaper then shows how each brother joined a separate branch of the military, and are heading to fight the Axis powers. First up, we watch as Lt. Dennis Reeves of the United States Navy is on a mission in the north Atlantic with American and British Frogmen, as they are planting bombs on the underside of Nazi ships. Dennis then doesn’t get far enough away and gets blasted from the ship, and knocked unconscious. He awakens on the shores of an island, and spots a Nazi fortress! He infiltrates the building, and using his psychic powers can feel a force that should not be there. He descends into the bowels of the fortress, and sees a Nazi commander communing with an unspeakable beast in the depths of the water. After getting captured, but then escaping, Dennis manages to get an explosive device and hurl it at the beast!

Half a world away, in a small Italian village, Sgt. Joe Reeves sees one of his men brutally killed in a tank attack. Before they know it, they’re caught in a fire fight and things don’t look good. On top of that, their tank gets stuck in a bog! Just then a skiff with a Japanese soldier comes by and they grab him and pull him inside the tank. He seems like he’s in a trance, and Joe uses his psychic powers to ascertain that he’s possessed by something inhuman. Again, the same unholy beast (or another that resembles it) from the desert fortress rises from the bog and attempts to destroy the soldiers. Joe decides to use the canon and then sets the tank forward to ram the beast. He jumps out at the last second, and swims to the shoreline. We see an enormous explosion, and the monster looks disposed of.

The last entry into this macabre trio of stories shows Bill Reeves, as he’s flying a fighter plane, but gets shot down. Somehow he’s thrown from the plane before impact (or was he?), and awakens near a Nazi bunker. He proceeds inside after seeing two guards dead by the entrance. Once inside, he peeks around a corner to see Uncle Adolph himself spouting orders to two of his hierarchy. After an aftershock (from a bomb?), Bill boogies out of the room, and heads to a lower level where Hitler is convening with the/a beast! Somehow, all three brothers end up at this place, and the three separate beasts combine into one, and it’s up to these three soldiers to get the job done!

This one was written by a guy named Bill Kelley, and honestly, I’d never heard the name before that I can remember. I see some credits for DC and Warren, and those are definitely areas that are lesser known to me. The art is by Ruben Yandoc, and I know him from some crazy stories he illustrated over at Marvel (starring the Scarecrow, the original one). The colors were by Jerry Serpe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird War Tales 70, 1978 “The Blood Boat!”

In this, week two of #warcomicsmonth we have another delightful addition to the siege from the pages of Weird War Tales! From the incredible splash page of this comic, you get a real feeling of dread. The Sargasso Sea reference immediately makes me think of Johnny Quest, and that awesome episode that took place in that very location. As Death himself explains how there are seas that make that one seem insignificant, he also  explains how he’ll show the readers just what a horrible death is all about!

In “Blood Boat” we see a PT boat, as it spots a man drifting helplessly in the ocean. They pick him up, and he explains how he was on a ship that was sunk by a Japanese sub days earlier.  How he alone survived is a bit of a mystery, though. We next see how the Captain has been under tremendous stress, and he’s also really at odds with his job versus his morals. He slips off to sleep, and has a terrible nightmare about Van Derling (the guy they picked up in the ocean). He then awakens to find the ship a mess, and many of his men dead with the traditional vampire bite marks on their throat! Written by J.M. Dematteis, art by Dick Ayers and Dan Adkins, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Jean Simek.

A quick one-pager called “Death’s Double Agent” comes next. The story revolves around a man who escapes German captivity. The senior officer tells his subordinates that it’s all in the plan, though, as he’s been brainwashed to be a double agent! Written by Mike Barr, art by Jerry Bingham and Romeo Tanghal, and colors by Jerry Serpe.

Finally we have “The Lonely Road to Life.” In this tale, we see war training in space! A young hot dog pilot almost causes an accident, but he couldn’t care less as long as it gets him noticed by his superiors. In the end, he winds up alone and with something truly horrifying looming over him! Written by Jack Oleck, art by Alex Niño, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Erick Santos.

The cover is by perennial creepy cover artist, Luis Dominguez! There are also some absolutely classic ads in this one as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird War Tales 69, 1978 “City of Death!”

Now that we’ve managed to escape October with our skins intact, it’s time for #warcomicsmonth (follow this hashtag on Twitter)! So, with that being said, the next five weeks will be saturated with books chocked full of tanks, soldiers, and maybe even some ghouls! The war comic books from all the publishers had their ups and downs, but for the most part, they were great. You had super realistic books like Blazing Combat, and crazy titles like…Weird War Tales!

In this specific issue, we get four stories, and they are fun! The intro page (by Howard Chaykin), shows Death himself, as he asks a simple question- “which war is really the war to end all war?” It’s a valid and scary question, even if it is from a comic book character. It also looks like the Death Star is in the background, so I guess Earth is just about toast anyways.

The first story in the book is called “The Phantom with My Face!” It starts out with a medic that seems like a Nazi sympathizer, but we realize he’s just a good guy with a good heart. He does however get haunted by a ghost soldier that keeps trying to get him to kill. Written by Scott Edelman, art by Romeo Tanghal, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Milt Snappin.

In “The Day After Doomsday,” we watch a war between mutants and what’s left of humanity after a cataclysmic event that has ravaged the planet! Written by Jack Oleck, art by Alex Niño, and colors by Jerry Serpe.

In our last regular length story, “The Soldiers from Heaven” we see some Conquistadors learn a valuable lesson after they savagely kill some natives. The native’s god comes to life to take revenge! Written by Arnold Drake, art by Bill Draut and Bob Smith, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Milt Snappin.

Finally, we have a two-pager called “Atrocities!” A Lovecraftian creature is doing battle with some spacemen, but the monster might not be what it seems. Written by Jack C. Harris, art by Howard Chaykin, and colors by Jerry Serpe.

And of course, as with many many books from DC comics, we get a great cover by one of the best artists to ever put pencil to page, Joe Kubert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unknown Soldier 261, 1982 “Hour of the Beast!”

After two weeks of marvel, I decided to swing back to the other side and roll with a weird DC book. Although, this one has me with mixed emotions. For one, it’s really cool, and has everything you could want in a bizarre war story. On the other hand, it drives me crazy when the cover gives away the story (but there is a twist to that statement). Yes, those editors that allow that should be let go. Anyways, on to the book!

The first story, starring The Unknown Soldier, is absolutely nuts. Lady Jade has been captured by the Nazis, and being tortured, and the Unknown Soldier is not happy about it. He then finds out that he’s indirectly responsible for the betrayal that lead to her capture. She’s being held in a castle…in France…by Japanese soldiers (not sure how many Japanese soldiers were in France, but let’s not parse hairs here). His superiors tell him his orders are to stay put, but he knocks out the two MP’s taking him outside, and makes a b-line for Jade. He decides that this time, he must not just use a disguise, but it must be “a complete metamorphosis.” He then disguises himself as a hunchbacked SS torture expert, and heads to the castle. As he attempts to rescue her, his disguise is  removed, and the chase is on. Now, this is where the story gets really crazy. As the pair are running down a hallway, Jade is possessed by a spirit that also changes her appearance. After introducing herself she tells him he must don a suit that’s hanging in the hallway of a demon (resembling a Satanic figure). He puts it on, and they both kill all of the Nazis in brutal fashion. Then they walk away arm in arm, while inside the castle, the woman/ghost that possessed  Jade remarks to the demon that they might be needed again someday.

Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, art by Dick Ayers and Gerry Talaoc, colors by Bob LeRose, and letters by Esphidy Mahilum.

The second story is a very hardcore story about racism. It shows a brutal killing right on the splash page of a racist soldier killing another during the Civil War. I gotta admit, although the story is about revenge against the racist guy, it was still a bit jarring to read in 2020. Written by Bob Haney, art by Ric Estrada (no, not from C.H.I.P.’s), colors by Bob LeRose, and letters by Pierre Bernard Jr.

The final story stars Enemy Ace! Anyone that knows this character knows that a quality story and art always accompanied Enemy Ace! This was a solid story involving an imposter that Von Hammer must deal with in a dogfight! Written by Robert Kanigher with art by John Severin!

Overall a fun issue that is most certainly worth seeking out! Oh and always an incredible cover by Joe Kubert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Tales 159, 1967 “Spy School”

This book has only been in my collection for a few months, but I knew it would be one that I’d spotlight sooner rather than later. Especially when you consider the talent that went into it’s creation! Just based off of the cover alone, who wouldn’t want to own this one! Two big stories with top notch creative teams means a Silver Age classic from the House of Ideas!

First up, we get Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos! They’ve transitioned from military life to working for the government (SHIELD). After a night on the town, Fury goes home, but the next day is full of training at a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. He then must face Captain America in a sparring session in front of the newest recruits!

Awesome story, as you can really see the cool story and art by an ambitious Jim Steranko (story, art, and cover). He really knows how to tell a story with Fury and his supporting cast. He also does a fine job with Cap as well. Letters by Jerry Feldmann.

The second story is another chapter in the life of Doctor Strange! The Doc returns home to find that his Sanctum Sanctorum has been leveled, by none other than Umar herself! Once he finds a counter-spell to bring his home back, he then sets out to fight a band of sorcerers that are attempting to bring back Baron Mordo! Written by Roy Thomas, art by Marie Severin and Herb Trimpe, and letters by Al Kurzrok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain America 601, 2009 “Red, White, and Blue-Blood”

In 2009, the world was treated to one more story drawn by Gene “The Dean” Colan. This was his swan song in mainstream comics (all of comics unless I’m mistaken), and it was fittingly a war/horror story! Yes, this is #warcomicsmonth and you do get some WWII action, but you also get some bloodthirsty vampires as well! A fantastic send off for one of the industry’s greats (R.I.P. Gene). Written by Ed Brubaker, with colors by Dean White.

The story starts out in Bastogne, France in 1945, with Cap, Bucky, and their unit, as they’ve discovered some other soldiers that were killed, but there’s something different about the way in which they were killed. Cap and Bucky wait and eventually see that the soldiers rise and are now part of a vampire legion! Cap and Bucky must now battle against men that served by their side, and not only that, but townspeople as well, including children!

This book is one that holds a high place in my pantheon of comics. Gene Colan is my all time favorite artist, and there is no finer example of why than this book. You get some very good scenes with dialogue with Cap and Bucky, but the action scenes, especially the ones that involve the undead, are simply incredible. Even on his last pro job, Gene delivered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SGT. Fury and His Howling Commandos 108, 1973 “Bury My Heart at Dresden!”

As I continue plowing through #warcomicsmonth like a Sherman tank, I thought it would be awesome to give Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos a look! For Marvel fans, this is the big dog of war comics, with only some ancillary titles in the mix (you’ve got to count Captain America in there for a lot of his publishing history). Marvel really did a great job with this team, as it not only had (eventually) distinct personalities for each character, but it was full of diverse ones as well.

In this epic tale, Fury and the Howlers are trapped in enemy territory, as the Allies begin to bomb the city of Dresden. In this real world event (like quite a few of these tales) more than twenty thousand lives were lost. This issue shows the real cost of war and how often those that are not involved get caught in the ugliness. Yes, we also see the usual awesomeness of Fury and the Howlers kicking Nazi butt, and the issues that feature only that are fun as well. But, this one is a bit more profound than most, and will definitely get you thinking. Dum Dum, Izzy, Gabe, Dino, Pinky, etc., they’re all here in this explosive issue!

Written by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Dick Ayers (cover by Ayers as well), inks by Vince Colletta, colors by Dave Hunt, letters by John Duffy, and edited by Roy Thomas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.I. Combat 271, 1984 “The Haunted Tank”

As you should know by now, November is “War Comics Month.” Use this hashtag on Twitter to find all the love for these comics. Honestly, it seems like these old books are getting forgotten more and more every year. I’m not sure why that is, but definitely give these books a chance. They hold historical value, even if it’s only in an ancillary way. So many of them also have the awesome talents of Joe Kubert on the cover, and rightly so, as he’s one of the staples from the industry during his tenure. With five awesome stories, and more than forty pages, this book rocks!

The first story (possibly my favorite) involves one of DC’s best war concepts, in The Haunted Tank! “A Birthday Gift from the Enemy,” shows us the horrors of war right from the on-set. No sugar coating here, as some of the men almost get killed. Sgt. Craig fights back admirably, and those that are still alive regroup, but a grenade lands right on top of the tank where Craig is, and he’s in bad shape. It’s up to Lieutenant Stuart and the Haunted Tank to get him to a hospital alive! Created and written by Robert Kanigher, art by Sam Glanzman, letters by Gaspar, colors by Jerry Serpe, and edited by Murray Boltinoff.

“The Last Charge,” is about a bugle, that has been used from the Civil War all the way up to WWII! A very bleak story though, and until the very end, you get a full dose of the horrors of war. Written by George Kashdan, art by Gerry Talaoc, and letters by Esphid Mahilum.

Next is “Dead Man’s Bluff.” This story is one of the most disturbing I’ve ever read. We see some American soldiers in an underground maze of sorts, and up against some Japanese soldiers. The ending is quite shocking, especially for a two page story. Written by George Kashdan, with art by Jose Matucenio, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Esphid Mahilum.

In “Son of a Gunner,” a group of soldiers parachute out of a plane into hostile territory, and are immediately accosted by the enemy. A much more positive end to this one for sure. Writer Arnold Drake, artist Alfredo Falugi, colors by Jerry Serpe, letters by Hector Formento.

Lastly, The Mercenaries (Soldiers of Fortune), star in “Timetable for Terrorists.” The story revolves around some mercs as they take on some terrorists in the Middle East. Story by Robert Kanigher, art by Vic Catan, with letters by Andy Ang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All-Out War 3, 1980 “The Viking Commando”

Admittedly, the Viking Commando character is very new to me. You can’t say no to a comic book with sixty-eight pages for a buck! These dollar comics that DC produced are absolute gold, from front cover to back. The extra content, the advertisements, and of course, the cover, makes this one an absolute gem. You get six stories in this comic book, and they are all quality selections. Kudos to editor Joe Orlando!

The first story is “A Hunger for Heroes” and stars the Viking Commando! A 12th Century warrior that was transported to the 20th Century and must fight the enemy in WWII! Story by (and created by) Robert Kanigher, art by George Evans, colors by Bob LeRose, and letters by Gaspar Saladino! Next up is “Bullet for a Bully,” gives us a story of an American soldier and an Italian resistance fighter, as they battle with more than just the enemy. Written by Davis Allikas, and art by Bill Payne. The third story (my personal favorite), gives us the character Black Eagle! This man was the leader of an all black squadron of pilots in WWII! Excellent story (Robert Kanigher) and art (Dick Ayers – pencils, Romeo Tanghal – inks, Ben Oda – letters, and Jerry Serpe colors). “Last Ace for a Gunner” is an interesting story, and is pretty self-explanatory. A card playing gunner plays his last hand. Story by Murray Boltinoff, and art by  Mar Amongo. As we begin to wind down, “No Glory for Cooky” is an action-packed tale created by “Zany” Bob Haney (writer), E.R. Cruz (art), Jerry Serpe (colors), and Gaspar Saladino (letters). Finally, “The Dominoes of Death” shows some aquatic action, with a super cool submarine! Written by Robert Kanigher, art by Jerry Grandenetti, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Gaspar Saladino. And all of this military mayhem is kicked off by a great cover by Joe Kubert!

 

 

Weird War Tales 55, 1977 “The Abominable Weapon!”

As a child, I was fascinated by cryptids. You know, mythical monsters that haven’t been proved to exist…yet! The top creature was definitely the Bigfoot/Yeti, and just the thought of those beasts running around was scary! This book is one of those that caught my eye right away in the back issue bins. So, here it is in all its glory!

Starting off with a glorious cover by the legendary Joe Kubert, is always a welcomed sight when grabbing back issues! The opening page shows “Death” as he’s taking inventory of his weapons vault. From the dawn of time, and into the future, we see spears to ray guns, and everything in-between. This fantastic piece is by Romeo Tanghal, and if you’re not familiar with that name, definitely look for his work. He’s a Filipino artist that did a ton of work for DC comics in the 1970s-1980s. Very underappreciated guy.

The first story (title from the cover), shows a squad of Japanese soldiers from WWII, as they intend to cut off a pathway through the Himalayas for the Allies. There’s only one problem, the frozen peaks are inhabited by a Yeti! Story by Arnold Drake (long time writer from the Golden/Atom Age that co-created the Doom Patrol and Deadman) , with art by Bill Draut (another golden oldie that worked for Marvel, DC, Archie, etc.). Super cool story with a great twist ending! The second story, “A Rebel Shall Rise from the Grave,” is about a dead soldier coming back to life to wreak havoc! Story by George Kashdan, with art by Alex Niño!

Definitely grab these war comics, as they are a great snapshot of the times (both the 1970s and the war years). The creative teams are always on point and you typically get an incredible cover from Joe Kubert!