The simple formula of Batman plus another hero and let them solve of mystery/beat down some villains sounds kind of dry, but wait, don’t despair, when you get a creative team like this one, it’s all good. Before we get to that though, this issue did show a female antagonist for Batman, and not Catwoman, so that was refreshing. In this her first appearance, Ruby Ryder is shown as extremely ruthless, and willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. And don’t be mistaken, as she does hire muscle but she’s also not afraid to get the job done herself!
A story this wild (and believe me, it is) could only be written by “Zany” Bob Haney. I’m quite sure no one else could’ve written this one, as it requires a touch only he could apply. The artist, Nick Cardy, was his usual reliable self in this issue. He understands completely how to relay a story visually, especially Batman. And yes, spoiler alert, the surprise guest is none other than Plastic Man! There is a great quiet moment between the two heroes at the end, and really tops off the story nicely. The awesome cover is by Neal Adams!
A Teen Titans lover I am not, but when I see a cover with demons beating up on superheroes, It’s mine. This bizarre story is the stuff of legend, as the team must help an old man and his grandson as they’re plagued by a horde of demons. It’s going tot take the entire team and some extra help from Lilith Clay, to get to the bottom of this creepy caper!
If there is one name from the DC past that I love as much as any name at Marvel during the same period, it’s “Zany” Bob Haney (writer). His work reminds me more of the Marvel Bronze Age than anything going on at DC ever. His writing reminds me a little of Steve Gerber. He can write stories that have plot holes or just don’t seem to make a lot of sense, but they’re extremely entertaining, and so strange anyone that has whatever disease it is I have, gets instantly memorized. The art team of Art Saaf (pencils) and Nick Cardy (inks) does the story complete justice. The demons are freaky looking and fit in perfectly with the early 1970s craziness. All of the Titans look great as well, and everything in the backgrounds is on point. The letters are by Ben Oda, and although most don’t really give this job much credit, his story name on the splash page is excellent! The cover is of course by long time DC stalwart, Nick Cardy. People probably mostly recognize his name for his superhero work, but don’t sleep on his horror efforts, because they are great!
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!
Some people buy books for the writer, artist, characters, or all three. There even times (like this one), where I’ll buy a comic just for the cover artist not even knowing what the interior story or art looks like. When you see a cover by the legendary Joe Kubert, pick it up. Even if the interior content is mediocre, you’ll be in possession of a thing of beauty. The war comics occupy most of my personal Kubert comics, but when I saw this particular cover at a good price, it was a no-brainer.
If you get the chance to buy this book, don’t pass up it up. The interiors are a wealth of gorgeous artwork from Joe Kubert and Russ Heath! The Viking Prince stories are written by Robert Kanigher, Bill Finger, and Bob Haney (Kanigher also wrote a ton of war comics, Finger needs no introduction because he’s the true creator of Batman, and “Zaney” Bob Haney wrote some insane Batman stories). The back up stories were written by these gentlemen as well as Ed Herron. A better collection of Viking Prince, and related stories cannot be found in a single issue! These artists have given us all a gift with this book.
My DC books are quite few in numbers (being a Marvel zombie for almost 20 years), but I’ve managed to acquire a couple of their books that are absolutely fascinating. This gem being one of them. Jim Aparo is one of those artists that make me immediately think of Batman when I see or hear his name (Garcia-Lopez, too). He’s the cover artist on this beauty, but the inside brings the talents of Joe Kubert, Bob Haney, Frank Springer, and more! Enjoy!