New Reviews of Old Comics
I used to despise war comics; never really understood the appeal. Short stories with unconnected characters from issue to issue in war titles that seemed to go on longer than the wars themselves. Not to mention all of the sound effects that had to be lettered. Reading “brap-brap” or “budda, budda, budda” doesn’t quite have the same impact as seeing it on TV or in a theater. In my old age I’ve grown to appreciate war comics, especially titles like Sgt. Rock. I picked this one up not knowing what to expect but figured anything with a Comics Code Authority stamp THAT big on the cover couldn’t be all that bad. Yeah, there might have been some sarcasm in that last statement.
World War I is the setting for “Three O’clock Killer,” which like all of the stories in this issue is un-credited. A German ace pilot has a reputation for shooting down all of his victims (and he has a lot of them) at precisely 3:00pm, and he knows this because they all fly around the clock tower of the local church. Finally one brave pilot has the idea on how to beat him; turn the tables and block out the time. Like his victims, the German becomes so fixated on the time (in his case not seeing the time) that he opens himself up to be shot down. Hurray for the good guys! This was a decent story with good art.
Next is a two page spread about the Blackhawks. No, not the famous DC characters, but the real 86th Infantry that served a short but memorable stint in WWII. An OK short story (for filler) with some truly lousy art.
Next is a WWII story called “Two Missions to Doom!” about a Navajo ace and his Irish crew chief who keeps the plane in tip-top shape. I’m missing the middle five pages of the 12 page story so it’s really hard to judge how good the story was, but I can say the art was streaky. Some panels were decent while others were down-right amateurish.
“Private Pete” is the one page humor section of the issue.
Wrapping up the issue is “Ace in a Cage!” a fighter pilot story set during the Korean War, which was pretty recent to when this issue was published. A heroic US pilot known by his special blue plane is haunting the North Koreans, but what makes them really mad is that they believe the pilot is in one of their prisons. Fortunately for us the particular pilot in question is currently reminiscing about how he wound up in this North Korean prison and how everything played out. He used to tell a fellow prisoner all of his flying knowledge and then helped him escape. As homage to the man who helped free him the man who escaped took over the role of the ace in the blue plane. This story was quite good all around, story and art; easily the highlight of the entire issue.
So one out of three stories could be classified as “good,” and I think it’s fair to say the one good story, the last one, made it worth the dollar. I’ll keep picking up war comics and feel lucky if I get one good story out of each issue.