Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 42
  1. #1
    Veteran Member codystarbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The Limerick Rake
    Posts
    1,122

    Default "Make War No More!"...The Dc War Comic Appreciation Thread!

    I'm going to date myself severely here; but, I'm a huge fan of DC's various war comics, of the 60s and 70s. Those books had some of the best writing in comics of the era, and had artists like Joe Kubert, Russ Heath, Sam Glanzman, Alex Toth, Jerry Grandenetti, Gary Taloc, John Severin, Walt Simonson, Howard Chaykin, and many others.The characters were fantastic and well rounded: Sgt Rock and the Combat Happy Joes of Easy Company, The Losers, Mademoiselle Marie, Enemy Ace, The Haunted Tank, The Unknown Soldier, and later characters, like Gravedigger and even the goofier stuff, like the Creature Commandos and the Viking Commando. There was a deep humanistic side to many, and war was rarely a gung ho, shoot 'em up kind of thing. They took a lot of their cues from the great EC war comics of Harvey Kurtzman and the EC artists, though maybe not as pointedly anti-war as Kutzman. They survived the Vietnam era for several more years and were only fully laid to rest in the 80s. Enemy Ace had that gorgeous Kubert art, with Hans Von Hammer forever carrying that haunting stare. Rock epitomized every good noncom who did his best to keep his men alive and get them home, who had also buried far too many. These stories had a depth that the superheroes rarely were allowed. They also had some truly great covers, especially Kubert's. Just look at some:






    Last edited by codystarbuck; 09-03-2016 at 05:46 PM.

  2. #2
    Veteran Member codystarbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The Limerick Rake
    Posts
    1,122

    Default




  3. #3
    Veteran Member codystarbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The Limerick Rake
    Posts
    1,122

    Default




  4. #4
    Veteran Member codystarbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The Limerick Rake
    Posts
    1,122

    Default



    Last edited by codystarbuck; 09-03-2016 at 05:35 PM.

  5. #5
    Veteran Member codystarbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The Limerick Rake
    Posts
    1,122

    Default




  6. #6
    Mighty Member Diamond's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    1,015

    Default

    I'm reading the first Showcase volume of the Unknown Soldier, and it's very entertaining. What other war comics would you recommend?

  7. #7
    Veteran Member codystarbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The Limerick Rake
    Posts
    1,122

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond View Post
    I'm reading the first Showcase volume of the Unknown Soldier, and it's very entertaining. What other war comics would you recommend?
    The Enemy Ace Showcase is a must. Robert Kanigher was at his best and Kubert rarely looked better (maybe his Tarzan). There are beautiful aerial shots and great pieces of human drama. Plus, it takes up to the later era, when DC had him go up against Balloon Buster, who was retconned as the son of Scalphunter, in the Starman series.

    Sgt Rock is another must; at least, the Kubert issues. Rock and Easy Company epitomized the GIs of WW2. I can't remember the issue; but, I recall a story where Rock related how some of the men of Easy Company gained their nicknames. Wild Man had been a teacher of some sort, who let his hair and beard grow during the trip across the Atlantic, on a troop ship. He eventually has a big red bushy beard.

    The Haunted Tank had some good ones. There was one, set in the Italian theater, that had a twist on Romeo and Juliet, that made it into DC's Years Best Digest, for that year (around 1979/1980/1981).

    Any of Sam Glanzman's USS Stevens stories are tremendous reading and they are collected in a new edition, from Dover Books. Also highly recommended is his autobiographical A Sailor's Story, also collected by Dover (originally published in 2 graphic novels, at Marvel).

    The War That Time Forgot Showcase is another good one, with soldiers fighting dinosaurs; one of DC's trippier ideas. Darwyn Cooke put it to good use in DC: The New Frontier.

    Jack Kirby's The Losers issues (collected in a hardcover edition) are another really great and unsung one. Jack hated the name; but, he got to do more realistic and more personal stories in these pages. One, involving a weapon called the Devastator, involves a surrogate Kirby, in a plan to fool the Germans. Kirby was a combat vet and it shows in his work here; men use cover correctly, take real firing positions, etc. He has a great story where a massive artillery barrage is juxtaposed against operatic music. It wasn't the sort of thing that DC readers were used to; but, it is almost poetic.

    The regular Losers comic was often filled with great stories, as they were a special operations unit, formed of characters who had previously headlined features. Capt. Storm had headlined a short-lived series, about a PT boat skipper, to capitalize on the popularity of the book and film, PT 109. Johnny Cloud was the Navajo ace, who starred in his own adventures, as well as appeared in some Sgt Rock stories, before joining the team. Gunner and Sarge starred in their own series, along with Gunner's dog, Pooch, who was later retconned as being related to Rex the Wonder Dog. They lasted right up until Crisis, when they met their final fate.

    The Mademoiselle Marie stories I have read are good; but, I haven't seen those collected. Same for Gravedigger, which was a late era entry, from DC.

    By contrast, Marvel had Sgt Fury, which was more of action/adventure book, in the style of the marvel heroes. Kirby hated doing it, as it was too unrealistic and he lived through the reality. Gary Friederich gave it better scripts and Dick Ayers and John Severin made it look great, in its glory days. Marvel's other war books were pretty generic, until The Nam. Even so, I prefer Don Lomax's Vietnam Journal, for its gritty realism, though the first year of The Nam is excellent. It stayed good, while Doug Murray wrote it, and Lomax contributed some good issues (with excellent art by Wayne Vansant); but, editorial dictates took over and we got the Punisher, which killed any sense of realism.

    I'm not a fan of mixing the superheroes with the war books (DC kept them separate, mostly, until the late 70s), though there have been a couple of good crossovers, in Brave and the Bold (with Batman and Sgt Rock) and DC Comics Presents (with Superman and Sgt Rock).

    Blackhawk is a special case. It came from Quality and was more of an adventure serier, in the traditions of the pulp novels, like G-8 and His Battle Aces, and Terry and the Pirates, as well as the real Flying Tigers squadron, in China. DC struggled with it, until Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle revived it.

    There was a great collection, in the late 70s, called America at War, which reprinted a bunch of DC war stories, including the famous Sgt Rock stry, where Jackie Johnson, an African-American soldier, is forced to box against a Nazi and ends up saving his life, via a blood transfusion. The cover for that story is depicted above. Here's the book collection, from the late 70s:

    Last edited by codystarbuck; 09-12-2016 at 09:00 PM.

  8. #8
    Incredible Member JLH's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    926

    Default

    I was reading an old comic the other night--GREEN LANTERN, I think--and saw an advertisement for ALL-OUT WAR. Granted I never followed any war/military comics but I don't recall that title at all. Did it not last long? I sure recognize a lot of the covers you've posted from advertisements throughout the 70s though. Always thought the STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES with the Unknown Soldier, floating mines and the shark was a cool one.

  9. #9
    Incredible Member The Odd Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Posts
    769

    Default

    Growing up int he 70's and 80's, I initially looked down my nose at war comics. It was all superheroes for me. Then I spent a summer at my cousin’s farm and the only comics he read were war comics. He had dozens of them, which I casually thumbed through, not expecting much. But the art caught my eye. Then I started reading them. And enjoying them. There were some damn good stories I had been missing out on!

    Needless to say, I corrected my omission upon returning home, and was able to enjoy a great number of finely drawn, well-crafted stories that didn’t feature superheroes. Always been thankful to my cousin for opening my eyes.

  10. #10
    Veteran Member codystarbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The Limerick Rake
    Posts
    1,122

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JLH View Post
    I was reading an old comic the other night--GREEN LANTERN, I think--and saw an advertisement for ALL-OUT WAR. Granted I never followed any war/military comics but I don't recall that title at all. Did it not last long? I sure recognize a lot of the covers you've posted from advertisements throughout the 70s though. Always thought the STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES with the Unknown Soldier, floating mines and the shark was a cool one.
    DC tried some later War series, like All-Out War and Men of War (which featured Gravedigger). They didn't last long; but, that was also a period when the industry, as a whole, was seriously hurting. They were trying anything that would sell. Those didn't. We were in the post-Vietnam period and war comics were seen, by some, as a reminder of that mess. Sgt Fury was mostly just reprints, by this point (it always had stretches of reprints, before new stories) and was winding down. DC tried altering the formula, with Gravedigger, in Men of War, featuring an African-American star, and the Creature Commandos, hoping to capture a sci-fi/monster crowd. They also tried espionage, with OSS, in Showcase. Unfortunately, this was around the time of the DC Implosion and a lot of comics ended up cancelled.

    The war comics were also a great training ground for a lot of young talent. Many of these were anthologies, with a lead feature and backup stories. They (and the mystery books) gave room for the young guys to try their hand. Walt Simonson had done some of his earliest work in them and had sort of become pigeonholed as a war artist, until Archie Goodwin asked him if he wanted to work with him on Manhunter. After that, Walt was a superhero artist, though he broke in with a sci-fi project, from his school days (Star Slammers).

    Charlton also continued doing war comics, until late in their days, with Fightin' Army and others. Will Franz and Sam Glanzman had a terrific feature in it, through the 70s, called the Lonely War of Willy Schulz. It's about an American GI who is wrongly accused of murder and ends up running, ending up behind German lines. He is the son of German immigrants and speaks perfect German and ends up hiding out within a German unit. He finds himself torn between staying alive within the German army and not wanting to bring harm to American soldiers. Very unique series that is begging for a nice collection. A Few stories were reprinted, in the 90s, under the ACG label.

    Our Army at War and Star Spangled War Stories were DC's longtime babies and Our Fighting Forces was another. GI Combat had been a Quality title, that DC inherited when they bought their books (along with Blackhawk).

  11. #11
    Mighty Member Diamond's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    1,015

    Default

    Thanks a lot for the recommendations! I'll be getting some of them this week for my birthday

  12. #12
    Veteran Member codystarbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The Limerick Rake
    Posts
    1,122

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond View Post
    Thanks a lot for the recommendations! I'll be getting some of them this week for my birthday
    Glad to be of service.

  13. #13
    Mighty Member MRP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    1,760

    Default

    My personal favorite DC war comic is this issue...



    featuring Sgt. Gorilla in his one and only appearance in the story entitled You Can't Pin a Medal on a Gorilla.

    I'm a huge fan of Joe Kubert's stuff, which brought me to an appreciation of the DC war books.

    The only DC war book I had as a kid was this one...



    I loved WWII history as a kid and one of my favorite kid's books was We WEre There at the Battle of the Bulge (I read a ton of the We Were There books in grades 3-7), so I liked the concept of war comics, but the colorful costumes of super-heroes (particularly Marvel heroes) always seemed to draw me in when picking out comics form the spinner rack to get. I would only get 203 comics per month, so I never seemed to find a way to get many war books, but I have come to appreciate them a lot more now.

    -M

  14. #14
    Veteran Member codystarbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The Limerick Rake
    Posts
    1,122

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by The Odd Man View Post
    Growing up int he 70's and 80's, I initially looked down my nose at war comics. It was all superheroes for me. Then I spent a summer at my cousin’s farm and the only comics he read were war comics. He had dozens of them, which I casually thumbed through, not expecting much. But the art caught my eye. Then I started reading them. And enjoying them. There were some damn good stories I had been missing out on!

    Needless to say, I corrected my omission upon returning home, and was able to enjoy a great number of finely drawn, well-crafted stories that didn’t feature superheroes. Always been thankful to my cousin for opening my eyes.
    Funny enough that is something I have heard about a lot of fans of war comics; that they only read war comics. They did tap into a very particular audience, including servcemembers, veterans, military buffs, and adventure lovers. A lot of those fans didn't care for the fantasy world of the more colorful superheroes. They liked the gritty realism (quite often relative realism) of the war books. That was also true of The Nam and probably more true of Marvel's other 80s war comic, Semper Fi. The 50s were the golden age of war comics, as there were dozens of them, from just about every publisher. Superheroes had waned and Korea was a current event and WW2 recent history; so, it made for fertile ground. Atlas/Marvel did a ton of them, as they did knockoffs of whatever was popular, flooding the market with comics. Combat Kelly was one of their hits, which was later revamped as a Dirty Dozen rip-off, as Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen. Atlas had titles like Combat Kelly, Combat Casey, Battle Brady, Battle Ground, Battlefront, Navy Action, Navy Combat, Battle, Battle Action, Marine Action, etc.... Martin Goodman also published a lot of Men's Adventure magazines, with a lot of combat stories, sadistic villains, scantily clad damsels and the like. Marvel had Sgt Fury, then added Captain Savage and His Leatherneck Raiders (for 19 issues), Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen (9), and War is Hell (15). Savage appeared in 67, the other two in 72 and 73. After that, it was only Sgt Fury, until the Nam and Semper Fi, in the 80s. Marvel also did Sam Glanzman's A Sailor's Story, in two graphic novels, recounting Glanzman's experiences on the real USS Stevens in WW2.

    Charlton had a ton: Fightin' Army, Fightin' Marines, Fightin' Navy, Fightin Air Force, Fightin' 5 (no Fightin' Coast Guard, alas) War, Army War Heroes, Marine War Heroes, Navy War Heroes (Air Force got the shaft, along with the Coast Guard) Attack, Battlefield and many others. EC had the legendary Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales. Warren gave us the very short-lived (4 spectacular issues) Blazing Combat, with mostly stories by Archie Goodwin. A story from the point of view of a Vietnamese farmer and VC got it kicked out of military PXes, leading to cancellation.

    I loved 60s era war films (Dirty Dozen, Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare, Tobruk, etc...) and was drawn to the comics. It did factor into my pursuing an NROTC scholarship, for college, and my time in service, to be sure, though they never deluded me into thinking it was a glorious crusade. I've seen other people who were fed a rosier picture by military recruiters, who had very rude awakenings. The old joke is how do you tel if a recruiter is lying? He's breathing. They make used car salesmen reputable.

    DC did do a more Vertigo-style Haunted Tank revival, and Garth Ennis had an interesting take on Enemy Ace, putting him into WW2, on the Eastern Front (despite hating the Nazis), though his age is problematic in my mind. Even at the youngest possible age for WW1, say 17, he would be 37, in 1938. He was more likely in his mid 20s, based on Manfred Von Richtiofen, who was the inspiration for Von Hammer. That makes him 45 in 1938, before the outbreak of the war.

    Ennis also produced the quite good War Story series (continued at Avatar) and a couple of Phantom Eagle stories, at Marvel (one in WW1 and one after). Phantom Eagle is probably more in G-8 and His Battle Aces and Blackhawk territory, than Enemy Ace's realm. Bill Tucci did the excellent Sgt Rock: The Lost Battalion, which detailed the rescue of 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, in France, by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (the Nisei), who suffered over 800 casulaties and 3 Medals of Honor (awarded lesser medals, due to discrimination, that were upgraded, under the Clinton Administration) . Tucci has Rock and Easy attached to the 1st Battalion. George Pratt did an interesting Enemy Ace graphic novel, War Idyll, which features an aged Hans Von Hamer, interviewed by a Vietnam Vet, in a hospital.
    Last edited by codystarbuck; 09-14-2016 at 01:06 PM.

  15. #15
    Veteran Member codystarbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The Limerick Rake
    Posts
    1,122

    Default

    My great dream is a maxi series, or something along the lines of Seven Soldiers, with all of the classic war characters, chronicling the war from beginning to end. You could show their lives at the start, with Marie a farm girl whose world is shattered by the outbreak of war and France's capitulation to the Germans. She joins the Resistance and rises to leadership of a successful cell, aiding in returning Allied personnel to England, sabotaging the Germans, and aiding the SOE and OSS. You can have the OSS characters and their war (and add the British SOE, who were more effective). You can take Rock and Easy from Operation Torch, in North Africa, to the final push on Berlin. I'd put the Losers in the Pacific, going from their individual tales, to a raidier/reconnaisance team. The Haunted Tank can be part of Patton's army, there in North Africa, as well as in the Battle of the Bulge. Gravedigger can showcase the discrimination against African-Americans, until they are allowed into combat roles. You can add all kinds of real elements, like the Tuskeege Airmen, the 442 Regimental Combat Team, the air war, the naval battles. I thought DC: The Greatest Generation would be a fine title.

    I also thought you could do a companion series, DC: The Golden Generation, which did the same for the superheroes, with the JSA, All-Star Squadron, Seven Soldiers of Victory, Freedom Fighters and the rest, taking them through a different kind of WW2. I'd keep them separate, to give a greater sense of realism to the war characters. The one problem is Blackhawk, though it could work in either realm. I'd lose the independent squadron element, with the Gruman Sky Rockets and make them a special ex-Patriot squadron, in the RAF, much like the Poles who flew in the Battle of Britain, and Dutch pilots who flew in the RAF, for the war comic series. For the superheroes, they could have the planes and face things like War Wheel.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •