Weird War Tales 92, 1980 “The Ravaging Riders of Ruin!”

Another week in November means another book for #warcomicsmonth! And from an artistic perspective, this one is top of the food chain for me. Starting with an awesome (as usual) cover from Joe Kubert, we get two big stories that deliver the goods! The best thing about this title is that it didn’t just focus on WWII, which would have been the easy route. They’d jump all over the map with these stories, and that was great.

The first story “The Ravaging Riders of Ruin!” we see a battle during the Crusades. In a war for Holy Land, these warring factions are brutal. As these two savage armies fight, a ghost brigade appears, and the crap really hits the fan. One of the Arabs and one of the Catholic warriors get pulled into some underground chamber, and are greeted by Prester John! He warns them of an imbalance that they’ve created, and that it must be corrected! It is then up to these two men to rid the underworld of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (referred to as the “Riders of War”)! Written by Cary Burkett, art by Tom Sutton, letters by Ben Oda, with colors by Adrienne Roy.

The second story is really off the rails! “Fight Fire with Fire,” starts out with a monster attacking a tank! The beast seems impervious to the weapons of the Allies, and then after it wreaks havoc, it is recalled by it’s Nazi masters. Three Allied soldiers then infiltrate the Nazi base and see that this monster was manufactured by the Nazis themselves from soldiers! But can they control them? Written by George Kashdan, art by Frank Redondo, and colors by Bob LeRose.

*Editor’s note! Be ready next week for a special surprise, as the blog will give you something never before seen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest 26, 1982 “The Brave and the Bold”

Thanks to a podcast (Digestcast on Fire and Water), I discovered this wonderful series of books. I’d never heard of them before, but when I was trolling eBay recently, I saw them at a good price. I snagged this super cool edition of The Brave and the Bold! Other than a slight tear of the cover, the book is on fantastic shape, too! This series was an anthology reprint (most of the time) book that brings some of the best DC had to offer from the Silver Age! Six big stories (part six having three chapters) are encased in this powerful, pint-sized book, and it’s all led off with a great cover by Jim Aparo (framing sequences as well)!

After some framing material, the first tale is from issue 86, 1969. “You can’t Hide from a Deadman!”, brings some incredible action from the Dynamic Duo, as they’re busting up an extortion racket and run into Deadman! Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, and art by Neal Adams!

Next, is “Three Arrows Against Doom!” This fantastic Robin Hood story is from issue 9, 1956/57. In this story, we see how Robin escapes from the sheriff’s men yet again, but this time with only three arrows at his disposal! Written by Bob Haney, with art by Russ Heath!

The third tale is called “Menace of the Mirage People!” It’s from issue number 38 (1961), and involves the Suicide Squad (no, not the lame movie characters from 2016)! Colonel Rick Flag, Jess Bright, Dr. Hugh Evans, and Karin Grace must fight against illusions that seem like reality! Written by Robert Kanigher, and art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. For further reading on this team, click here and here!

The following story, “Threat of the Ice King (issue 18, 1958)” is a tale of the Viking Prince! These ongoing stories were great and not only because they gave you epic fantasy tales, but because they had names like Bob Kanigher (writer) and Joe Kubert (art) behind them!

In the days of Camelot, knights and warriors ruled the day (story from issue 21, 1958/59)! And in “The Sword in the Lake,” we get to see some great action involving the Silent Knight! He’s tricked into the service of Morgan Le Fey, and must retrieve some incredible artifacts for her! Written by Robert Kanigher, with art by Irv Novick!

Lastly, we have some wild adventures of Cave Carson! In three separate chapters, we learn “The Secret Beneath the Earth!” These chapters from issue 31 (1960), show us some crazy adventures involving dinosaurs, lava men, and other shenanigans. Written by Ed Herron, art by Bruno Premiani. For more on Cave Carson, click those links above in the Suicide Squad section!

Do yourself a favor and grab some of these as they are a great way to get some fantastic material from the Silver Age at an affordable price!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Adventures 234, 1972 “The Human Icicle!”

It’s been quite a long time (4 1/2 years!) since I spotlighted an issue from this series, and I’m not sure why. This is definitely one of my favorite Bronze Age (and Silver) titles from DC comics. These quirky sci-fi stories are a lot of fun. You either get something that mirrors the time period (scientifically), or a story that’s so far out there, you can laugh about it. The book held a few memorable runs in its day, including Deadman (some stories illustrated and written by Neal Adams), Animal Man, and Adam Strange.  This issue is all reprints, but they pack a punch!

There are four big stories in this issue, and the first one is something really out of this world. “The Human Icicle” is featured on the cover (a spectacular cover by Joe Kubert), and showcases a man with amnesia, and a power that turns everything he touches to ice! The writer does a fantastic job of keeping the man’s “secret” until the perfect time in the story. Written by Otto Binder, with art by Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs.

The second story is a Star Rovers tale called “Where is the Paradise of Space?” This trio is a a non-team that comes together to figure out certain anomalies. Homer (no, not that Homer), Karel, and Rick are up to their eyeballs in mayhem in this one, as they are on a floating island in space that’s full of the wonderful and the weird! Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Sid Greene.

Next we have “The World that Vanished!” There’s an alien invasion coming, and it looks like the only thing that may be able to stop it is a cosmic ray weapon! Written by John Broome, and art by Sy Barry.

The last chapter in this book stars Adam Strange! This space faring superhero has a jetpack and a laser pistol and he knows how to use them! What happens when a man must face himself? Do not miss “The Spaceman Who Fought Himself!” Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showcase 82, 1969 “Nightmaster”

Sometimes when you buy a comic, you think you know what you’re in for. And then you read the book and get something totally different. That’s what happened when I read DC Showcase 82!

A hippie musician that gets teleported to an alternate dimension via a weird bookstore, then must pick up a sword and battle evil-doers, and save his girlfriend from them. The first few pages of this book give no indication that’s going to happen (OK, other than the splash page). This one is a fun romp that deserves your attention for sure. This book also has some of the best advertisements I’ve ever seen in a DC comic book (see 3 images below story)!

Very fun/cool story by Denny O’Neil, with artwork by Jerry Grandenetti and Dick Giordano! This one is something straight out of Dungeons and Dragons or slightly even a Tolkien story. If you see this one for a decent price, do not let it slip away. Oh, and of course it has a spectacular cover by DC’s best cover man, Joe Kubert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brave and the Bold 115, 1974 “Batman and The Atom!”

The DC 100 page comics from the Bronze Age are nothing short of gems. These multi-storied books bring a variety like no other to a reader, and they do it by simply providing extraordinary content. With one original story and four reprints, this book is an excellent representation of what made DC comics a great company.

A new Batman story, straight from the mean streets of Gotham! We see Batman down for the count, as he’s nearly killed by some hoods! It’s up to the Atom and Commissioner Gordon to save the Dark Knight! Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, with art by Jim Aparo!

Next up is a reprint of Challengers of the Unknown (issue 12) with “Three Clues to Sorcery.” You get it all in this one – a gorilla, a gigantic squid, a mysterious gem, and more! Written by Ed Herron (most likely), with art by Bob Brown.

In the following reprint, we get a good one (and a personal favorite of mine)! “Solomon Grundy Goes on a Rampage!”, features just that, Grundy going ape and kicking the crap out of Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and Hourman! Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Murphy Anderson.

in the fourth installment, a legend in the comic book industry brings us one of his best illustrations with the “Origin of the Viking Prince!Joe Kubert is the artist, and he delivers the goods. Script by Bob Haney.

Lastly, we get another titan of the comic book industry (well three really), as Ray Palmer, A.K.A. The Atom, is brought to us in “The Case of the Innocent Thief!” – by Gardner Fox (story), Gil Kane (pencils) and Murphy Anderson (inks)!

The cover features illustrations by Jim Aparo (Batman), Murphy Anderson (Grundy), and Bob Brown (Challengers).

 

 

 

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!