Marvel Comics: War is Hell! (issues 9-12)

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, Tom Palmer, and Mike Esposito), 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?

 

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War is Hell #12, 1975 “My Love Must Die”

Truthfully, I’ve only read two issues of this series (War is Hell), but both were excellent. I don’t fully understand what the book and character are all about, but I do know that John Kowalski was a member of the U.S. Army, and was killed in action. He then becomes sort of a ghost that can possess people, and cause all sorts of havoc. I also read an issue of Man-Thing #10 (vol. 2), where he seemed to be alive again, but have other mysterious powers. I need to investigate this book/character more, so I guess it’s to the back issue bins for me!

Honestly, when you see the credits for this book, it’s not difficult to just grab it, knowing it will be at least OK, if not good. The story is by Chris Claremont, and he can write just about any kind of genre. The pencils are by Don Perlin, the inks by Dave Hunt (both are criminally underrated), with colors by Janice Cohen, and letters by Joe Rosen (edited by Len Wein). With a team like that, you know the work will be solid, and this issue certainly is a good one! Enjoy!

 

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