I’m a few days late starting #WarComicsMonth because life has just gotten in the way of things, but I have a nice pile of books to get through during the next few weeks, all of which are from various eras and various companies. All of these are unread books or re-reads that I wanted to make some sort of “official” decision on, so it’s a combination of getting through the pile of the unused and curating my collection.
With that out of the way, I can’t think of any comic in that pile to start with other than a DC war book.
I know that I spent several years and 100 episodes of a podcast series covering a Marvel war comic, but when I think of the classic definition of the genre, DC set the standard for decades, especially with Sgt. Rock and G.I. Combat. Funny enough, my first exposure to the characters from either book was in issues #2-3 of Crisis on Infinite Earths where Dr. Polaris and Geo Force team up with Easy Company, The Haunted Tank, and The Losers to take on Nazis in Markovia. As short as it is, it’s a phenomenal sequence.
I didn’t get that much into war comics from there, but have enjoyed them more in recent years mostly due to war comics enthusiast and #WarComicsMonth founder Luke Jaconetti. And when random copies of old war comics show up in cheap bin sales, they’re always worth picking up. That’s been the case for a few years now, but I think that this year might be the first in which I deliberately set aside some books for November so that I could review them here.
G.I. Combat #239 is cover dated March 1982 and has a “Dollar Comic” label on it. I thought that was something DC had done away with in the late 1970s, especially when the DC Implosion hit, but it does look like G.I. Combat, Superman Family, and World’s Finest were still doing the “Dollar Comic’ thing at the time. The book would be a 48-pager until issue #281 in January 1986 (and really was the last true big anthology book DC published) and then would last for the following seven months as a regular-sized issue before being cancelled. It wasn’t the last of the classic DC war books–that would be Sgt. Rock, which would last for about another year.
This book is cover to cover full of war stories, including the inside covers which are one-page strips written by George Kashdan with art by Dick Ayers. Inside, you’ve got five stories, two of which feature The Haunted Tank by Robert Kanighter, Dick Ayers, and Sam Glanzman. That right there is worth the price of admission, as they’re creators I’ve always associated with World War II comics.
Kanigher writes a number of other stories in here as well, including an ninja-driven story of the OSS that looks like it could have come from one of Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe books. And there’s also “The Girl and the Big Gun” which does not have a writer credit (I’m going with Kanigher, though) and has beautiful art by Ernesto B. Patricio, who had a career in the 1970s and 1980s on DC’s genre books.
They’re all fun as hell to read–in fact, I don’t think there’s a single dud in the comic. I’m not sure how much of this title can be found in cheap bins these days, especially since Bronze Age books are going for more and more money. But a readable copy shouldn’t set you back too much and if you can find it (or, I’d venture, a number of other issues of this series), I’d check it out.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?