The DC War Comics
by Corporals Enfantino and Seabrook
"My Brothers With Wings!"
Story by Howard Liss
Art by Russ Heath
"I Owe You My Life!"
Story by Howard Liss
Art by John Calnan
Peter: When "air-minded" Alice Smith's plane crashes on a "solo hop from Australia to the Philippines," she's just able to rig a parachute to her baby Tommy's cradle and eject it into the Pacific night. The bundle lands on an island filled with monsters from a prehistoric stone age and the baby is brought up by a friendly family of pterodactyls. When mama ptero is struck by lightning during an afternoon out gliding with Tommy, a ship fishes him out of the sea and takes the young man back to America. Growing up without the power to speak anything but "Skreeee"s and "Skrawwww"s would be a detriment to anyone but the hardiest heart but Tommy grows lean and strong until, one day, he volunteers to join the service during WWII and is assigned to the Pacific. During a bombing run, his battleship is destroyed and Tommy must search for an island on which to land. Out of the blue (literally), the island of his youth materializes before him and the lucky pilot lands. Since he had always hoped to come back to his home, Tommy had never thrown away his loincloth and so he dons it and sets foot on the island for the first time in years. Quickly, he set upon by a T. Rex but one of his "winged brothers" arrives to save the day. A wave of Japanese ships approach the island and Tommy must rig his winged brothers with bombs liberated from his plane. The squadron of pterodactyls make scrap metal out of the fleet and Tommy hitchhikes back to his base on a passing battleship, knowing he'll return again some day.
|"My Brothers With Wings!"|
|"My Brothers . . ."|
Jack: Is this the best installment of the War That Time Forgot? If not, it's surely the best one in recent memory. Did you notice that Tommy got a haircut between the cover and the splash page? Of course, I would have preferred to have seen what Kubert could do with this story in light of his later Tarzan work, but Heath turns in a very nice story. I also saw a bit of a Superman parallel with the mother jettisoning her baby from the plane in order to save his life.
|"I Owe You My Life!"|
|Still more from "My Brothers . . ."|
"Easy's Hardest Battle!"
(Reprinted from Our Army at War 99, October 1960)
"Fight to the Finish!"
Story by Howard Liss
Art by Gene Colan
Jack: In WWI, an American soldier has a "Fight to the Finish!" with a German soldier in a cemetery. The bursting of a stray shell separates the men and allows the German to escape. As a result, an American tank is destroyed, along with its crew. This event haunts the American soldier, who tells his young son about it after the war. The boy grows up and fights in WWII, finding himself back in the same cemetery fighting the son of the German soldier who had escaped years before. This time, the German is killed by the falling tombstone, allowing the American to head back to base to report on a new German jet plane he's seen in action.
Liss writes a story that Kanigher would be proud to have penned, where the most unlikely of coincidences occurs and brings the sons of soldiers together in the same place where their fathers squared off decades before. Colan's art is as good as we've seen from him in the DC war comics and reminds me of what he was doing over at Marvel around this time.
|"Fight to the Finish!"|
The Sgt. Rock story is a reprint from 1960, uncut at 13 pages. Also reprinted are two of the one-page "true battle stories" that are used as filler in the DC war comics. One comes from the same issue as the Sgt. Rock story; the other, from All American Men of War 81 (September 1960). Even the cover is repurposed from the splash page of the reprinted story! In 1960, DC readers got a 13 page lead story and two six page backup stories for a dime. By 1966, it was a 13 page lead story and a nine page backup story, or three fewer pages of story per issue, for twelve cents!
From 1966 to 1968, Joe Kubert was drawing the newspaper strip, Tales of the Green Beret, which gave him less time to draw Sgt. Rock and other DC comics. Presumably, that's why a reprint was slotted into this issue. I expect well see less new material from Mr. K for awhile.
Peter: A tad bit of a deception that cover, no? With its "Sgt Rock asks you to read first--then vote on which was--Easy's hardest battle!" tagline, you'd assume there would be some kind of follow-up on the inside, right? Nope, not one word of explanation for the supposed competition nor for the reasoning behind the reprint. I'm sure a good proportion of the readers didn't even know it was a reprint. Howard Liss finally strikes out with "Fight to the Finish!," a mess stuffed so full of coincidences that it might be construed as a parody of DC war stories if the bullpen went in for that sort of thing. At least we get another look at Gentleman Gene's splendid work.
|"Pull a Tiger's Tail!"|
|"A Carrier Has Nine Lives!"|