Monday, April 02, 2012
Number 1133: Russ Heath's internal war
I don't know who wrote these stories for Atlas' War Comics #7 (1951)—Hank Chapman, maybe?—but they took a cue from Harvey Kurtzman and his cerebral war stories in Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales. They both show soldiers in combat who have a lot on their minds. In the first, a soldier doubts his ability to confront an enemy, in the other, bothered by no mail from home preys on the soldier's mind.
These human reactions elevate these stories over many other comic book war stories, where the American soldiers are unrealistically heroic, brave and single-minded. Before being drafted, in many a nightmare I confronted my own fears of being in the same situation as the G.I. in "Alone." I was in the Army during the Vietnam era but spent my time in Germany. As a clerk-typist my actual worst fear was putting the carbon paper in backwards.
Russ Heath does his usual superb work. He is a master of the impact panel, in this case the bottom panel of page 5, where the soldier's fears suddenly materialize into reality, and the full horror stands before him.