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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncanny Tales 2, 1973 “Out of the Swamp…”

It has been too long since I last blogged about a horror comic! Last week’s awesome post aside (click here for my contribution to Super Blog Team Up), lately I’ve been all over the spectrum on my posts, as in, whatever hits me as worthy at that very moment. Some would say they’re ridiculous and not top tier like certain books that have beloved runs even 40+ years or more later. But I feel like all comics have worth, obviously some more than others, and there’s nothing wrong with liking or not liking any comic. So even when I blog about some lesser known comic, rest assured its got at least some redeeming value. Now, let the horror commence!

This week’s post is solid, and has some really good material from the Golden Age. Some pre-code even! Five stories of madness are inside this one, and solid creators are behind them. The first story (“The Graves that Moved“) starts out in a graveyard as we see caskets popping out of the ground and killing an old guy! Very eerie and sets a good tone for the rest of the book. Art by Jim Mooney (no other credits given).

The second story is called “Out of the Swamps!” This one has a scientist, gangsters, and talking Lemurs…yep. A very bizarre story indeed, but with very good art by Dick Ayers!

Next, we get “Dead End” and we see a man telling the readers that he’s killed himself and doesn’t really exist anymore. It seems like they were going for a real nutty vibe in this one as well, and they achieved that with flying colors. script by Burt Frohman, Art by Tom Gill.

The fourth tale is called “Last Seen Climbing a Ladder!” The story revolves around a scientist that thinks he can build a ladder from Earth to an asteroid. Yes, you read that correctly. He actually succeeds but has plans of his own afterward! Art by Vic Carrabotta.

Last but not least, we get “Superstition.” It shows a penal colony on Guiana, and how the prisoners have escaped. They were helped by some of the natives, but when the prisoners demand to be taken off of the island, things get dicey. You see, the natives have a superstition and don’t want to leave the island. They have a good reason, and the prisoners find out why, but it’s too late! Art by Syd Shores!

All of these stories are kicked off by a cover by none other than Golden Age artist, Carl Burgos (you may have heard of him), but with heavy alterations by John Romita.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Monsters Dwell 5, 1970 “Taboo Lives Again!”

After a few weeks of superheroes, it’s time for more monsters! Not the usual Bronze Age fare (well technically not even though this is a reprint from 1970), but material from the preceding Silver or “Atlas Age” at Marvel comics. During this time, you had Stan Lee writing and editing just about everything (some work by Larry Lieber and a few others, but the overwhelming majority was Lee), and two giants of the industry penciling. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko are undoubtedly two of the most influential creators of the medium, but not for this material, as most know. But, don’t sleep on these comics, because they do offer some really good artwork, and some interesting stories as well.

The four stories in this reprint book are all very different, as one features a giant monster (The Return of Taboo, Strange Tales 77, 1960), a sorcerer (The Strange Magic of Master Khan, Strange Tales 77 as well), aliens (We Met in the Swamp, Tales to Astonish 7, 1960), and a ghost (I Lived a Ghost Story, ST 7 as well)! Credits include – Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Paul Reinman, Dick Ayers, and Artie Simek (with possible alterations by Marie Severin).

 

 

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!

 

 

SGT Fury Annual 7, 1971 “Armageddon!”

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!

 

Weird Wonder Tales 6, 1974 “The Man Who Owned a Ghost?”

As the 1970s progressed, Marvel went full on crazy with the reprints. Some were of recent material (Spider-Man, The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, etc.), and others were from as far back as the Atom Age (post Golden Age but pre-Silver Age). Flooding the market was nothing new for them, but it is still astonishing to look back on. Not that you can blame them, after all they were under the constraints of the publisher that was their rival for many years. Once they got out from under those shackles, they went hog-wild, and who could blame them.

The book is all reprints, but don’t discount it on that accord. The first story alone is worth its weight in gold, as Bill Everett is the mastermind behind “The Man Who Owned a Ghost!” Some artists have their work deteriorate as they age, but Everett’s work got stronger, just look! The second story, “Was He Just Seeing Things?,” has art by Manny Stallman, and this is a creator that I’m not very familiar with to be honest (here’s a link to Mark Evanier’s blog from 1997, talking a bit about him). Neat little sci-fi story including dinosaurs! “Homicide” follows and brings an axe murderer! Nothing here you didn’t already see from a publisher like EC comics, but still pretty jarring. The art in that one is by Harry Anderson. Again, a relative unknown today, but I found some info here. The last installment in the book is called “The Man in the Crazy Maze.” A treat for sure, as this has art by Jack Kirby (pencils) and Dick Ayers (inks)! It’s always a treat to see some Kirby! The cover is by Larry Lieber (probably pencils/layouts) and Mike Esposito (inks).

 

Giant-Size Chillers 1, 1975

You know, Treasury Editions aside, there’s no better format than the Giant Size comic books of the 1970s. From Superheroes to horror, they were great, and really packed a wallop as far as content. Yeah a good portion of the time they were reprints, but in this day and age the original material  they show is extremely pricey and every-day Joes just can’t afford them. Probably the most important editions of this title were in The Avengers, where it was new material and tied into a huge arc (The Celestial Madonna).

Instead of making a joke about a character that was also given the Giant Size treatment, let us journey into this book, Giant-Size Chillers 1, from 1975. With only two reprinted stories it showcases some oddities, traditional stories, and some definite re-hashed work as well. With work from Tony Isabella, Gene Colan, Tom Palmer, Carl Wessler, Alfredo Alcala, Larry Lieber, Miguel Ripoll Guadayol, Doug Moench, Win Mortimer, Ralph AlphonsoAdolfo Buylla, Paul Reinman, Dave Gibbons, Dick Ayers, Mike Lombo, George Roussos, Mike Esposito, and John Romita.

 

Marvel Treasury Edition 2, 1974 “The Fabulous Fantastic Four”

In the comic book hall of fame, there are a lot of great stories. Single issues, trades, whatever the format, dozens come across one’s mind immediately. Star-spanning adventures, tales of morality, love, tragedy, etc., take your pick. The format is one of the most underappreciated of all time, no doubt. One of the best examples of the different story types is none other than Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four! The familial aspect, love, loss, tragedy, comedy, etc., you get it all with them, especially under the creative eyes of Jack “King” Kirby and Stan “The Man” Lee!

After recently purchasing Marvel Treasury Edition 2, I finally read the epic story The Galactus Trilogy! This first encounter for Earth with a literal and figurative giant of the cosmos is so incredible, you will feel as if you’ve been through a war after reading it! And, not only do you get that incredible story, but also Dr. Doom, the Submariner, and The Impossible Man! With the back issues being extremely pricey, this is a great way to get to read these legendary stories and not break the bank! Finally, apologies for the low quality of the images (my scanner isn’t big enough to accommodate Treasury sized books). Enjoy!