Monday, April 23, 2018

Number 2071: “There is only one rule in war...kill!”

Although fighting ended in 1953 between forces of China, siding with North Korea, and United Nations troops, including the United States, the war has never officially ended. And while the shooting was going on, American war comics gave their comic book version of the conflict. There were commies and good guys, and we were the good guys.

This is a good example of a bloody war tale from that era, written by Hank Chapman for Atlas Comics’ Battle #10 (1952). The “Butcher” makes his own rules for war, as he claims. The captured American troops wish to be treated in accord with the rules of war. “Rules of war” always seemed an oxymoron to me. When I was in the U.S. Army in the mid-sixties our drill sergeants told us what the rules were to them: kill the enemy and let him die for his country.* The past few years have seen saber-rattling coming from that part of the world. and more belligerent and bellicose talk from ours. In real life things just don’t wrap up in seven pages like “The Butcher of Yingkow!”

I like Paul Reinman’s artwork for this tale. Reinman, who died in 1988, was a journeyman who spent many years drawing comics. It looks like he put more into this job than I have usually seen from him.

*For the record, I served as an orderly room clerk in an artillery unit in Germany. I went where they sent me. The only shooting I did was on a rifle range.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Number 2070: Airboy vs the rats, part 2

I showed the first part a couple of days ago, so if you haven’t read it you can go back.

You know what this story reminds me of? Those dopey movies they make for the SyFy Network. Not that dopey stories can’t be entertaining in their own way, but they are hard on the suspension of disbelief during a movie...even comic books. So it is with Airboy and the rats.

They introduce and kill off a “Dr. Eisner,” a “big scientist,” on page 3. Is this an inside joke, referring to Will Eisner? My guess is yes.

The script writer really went into “Aw, come on, man!” territory, and from me a big loud raspberry for the decision to blow up a major dam to get rid of the rats. Despite there being nothing even remotely believable in this epic, they should have seriously thought about bombing a dam as a solution.

From Airboy Comics Vol. 5 Number 12 (whole number 59, 1949). Cover by Dan Zolnerowich (“Zolne”, and the interior artwork by Ernest Schroeder.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Number 2069: Airboy vs the rats, part 1

I have held off showing the two part Airboy story from 1948 for a good reason. It more properly belongs as one of my Thanksgiving Turkey Award winners. But at 30 pages of story over two issues, I have decided it is too long for that award.

It’s a science fiction story about rats declaring war on humans. That would be silly enough, but throw in a little mouse named Cheesie(!) that owes allegiance to Airboy for setting its broken leg, and the jaw drops another few inches.

This cheesy story is from Airboy Comics Vol. 5 Number 11 (whole number 58, 1948). Cover by Dan Zolnerwich (“Zolne”), and artwork on the story by Ernest Schroeder. Grand Comics Database doesn’t know who is to blame for the script.

Come back on Friday for part 2.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Number 2068: Just a harmful young lady

In March I posted a crime comics story featuring a female criminal. I have chosen another. (Look back through the history of this blog and I have showed several stories featuring bad girls. I will let you decide what that means about me. You are probably right).

I don’t know if there was a female criminal named Mara Hite, who earned a death sentence in 1937. In crime comics if they didn’t really exist they made it seem like they did. In this story, illustrated by Syd Shores for Gangsters and Gun Molls #4 (1952), Mara is a murderer, even using the desperado tactics of traveling gangsters like Dillinger or Bonnie and Clyde, shooting at cops from the window of a speeding getaway car. It is a timeworn tale, but the drawings by Shore make it worth a look.

Shores was an early comic book artist who worked with Simon and Kirby early on, and worked freelance in comics for many years until his death from a heart attack at age 59 in 1973. Gene Colan described Shores as a “big smoker,” and we know that smoking will kill you more surely than any gangster, male or female.