Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"Post No. 584"

Got in that lot of DC's Our Fighting Forces the other day. An interesting lot of ten comics that range in dates from 1970 to 1975. And I had bidded on these just for the first five issues Jack Kirby had done (#'s 151-155), but after reading the lot I found they all contained decent material.

OFF was just one of many war-theme comics DC did, of course. DC had other titles such as Our Army At War, Star-Spangled War Stories, G. I. Combat, All-American men of War, etc., etc., with the most known of the characters emerging from any of these being "Sgt. Rock" (in OAAW). "Enemy Ace" was perhaps their second most popular, with each title they produced having some sort of main character. Like Marvel in the 1960's, Sgt. Fury was the one big war-guy, with others such as "Captain Savage" never being as big, but I recall reading most of the tales of "Johnny Cloud", "Gunner & Sarge", "Pooch", and "The Haunted Tank". In fact if one thinks about it, Johnny Cloud was the first Native American hero to be predominently shown in a contempory sort of storyline with such only being shown in westerns which revolved around the late 1800's before that, and beat such Marvel characters as "Wyatt Wingfoot" and "Red Wolf" by many years.

The other non-Kirby issues I got are #'s 127, 136, 137, 143 & 147, with the 136 & 137 being two of the early 1970's 52 Page Giants.

All of these issues contain stories about a team called: "The Losers", that began their series in #123 in 1970, and ran in every issue until the title ceased publication in 1978 with issue #181.

The Losers were composed of "Captain Storm", a character based losely on a P.T. boat adventurous-hero such as was J. F. Kennedy (sans "P.T. 109"). He had one wooden leg and later on in the series ended up losing an eye as well, wearing an eye-patch similiar to "Nick Fury", and was the "C.O." of the team.

"Johnny Cloud" was another member, and the others were "Gunner & Sarge". The tales are mostly typical sort of war stories, although DC would attempt to give them a more humane tilt as the 70's wore on and the popularity of war-themed comics dwained from the Viet nam conflict, even posting a "Make War No More" symbol at the end of the tales. Most of the covers are drawn by veterin war artist, Joe Kubert, and the interior artwork in some of these is by Kubert on various stories.

Other artists include old EC artist (and later, "Sgt. Fury" artist) John Severin, Andru and Esposito, whom I have difficulty taking as serious war artists perhaps after seeing them do "Wonder Woman" for so many years, Russ Heath, who is the best stylistic artist and whose work I've loved since I first saw a "Sea Devils", Frank Thorne, who later became known more for his work on Marvel's "Red Sonja", Ken Barr, whose work I've also always admired, and then, of course on the 151 thru 155, the master, Jack Kirby, who was certainly no stranger to doing war comics.

Some interesting notations here would be that the cover to #147 is by Neal Adams, and it's the ONLY cover he ever did for the title. In #137 there's a story that was started by Andru and Esposito, but finished by Joe Kubert, and in that same issue was a tale that I could have sworn was by Alex Toth, but checking records found it to be of all people, Mort Meskin, whose work graced many a golden and early silver-age comic.

Issue #153 is a little misleading as they show a comic book cover on the front cover which turns out to be a "pulp" magazine in the interior tale, but I guess that's because they thought no one would remember pulps by the mid-1970's? But, anyway, the use of "The Losers" logo was always used pretty interestingly on the issues that pre-dated Kirby's. In fact, the book's actual title was deemphasized to make it appear that The Losers was really the name of the comic.

For those who have never read any of these it'd be a good idea to sometime pick one up and look it over. Good stuff, there!


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