Search This Site

Sunday, January 24, 2016

War Comics Key Issues Part 4

This is Part 4 to this War Comics key issues series, and we are moving out of the Golden Age into the Silver Age of the genre. As we know, prior to the Silver Age and after World War II, superhero comics fell out of favor in the market.

There were still some superhero titles that continued during the superhero slump like Batman, Detective, Superman, Action Comics, and Wonder Woman to name a few, but most genres like horror, romance, war comics, adventure, and science-fiction titles and stories were popular during the time.

When the Silver Age began the superhero revival, some of these titles were still in effect and quite popular. Only a few would actually last when superheroes once again reigned supreme during the 60s when Marvel took a giant piece of the comic market.

Most were either cancelled, switched formats, or were bought out by other publishers like DC Comics. Much of the Atlas war comics didn't survive very long and were flat out cancelled.

Click this Part 3 link if you missed it, but if you're ready to go, here's more war comics for ya.

1st appearance of Iron Mike Mcgraw
1st issue to war comic series

Created by Russ Heath, Iron Mike Mcgraw was one of the few recurring characters within the Atlas universe of war comics. Like most of these few recurring characters, however, Iron Mike Mcgraw did not last very long and had a few appearances.

He did have a bit more than others though, and I think he appears in about 26 issues of war comics, even crossing over in Devil Dog Dugan #2. Like most of these war comic characters, Iron Mike is a square-jawed soldier who despises and wages war on the Red Godless Commies.

He's a marine that fights in Korea with his sidekick Gunny Gorski and his adventures are told in this comic series Marines in Battle. Not sure if this comic also has the 1st appearance of Gunny Gorski as well but it might. August, 1954 is the cover date of Marines in Battle #1.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

1st issue to comic series 

Here we have another war comic that was pumped out by Atlas. Cover is by Joe Maneely with story art by Paul Reinman and Joe Sinnot.

As far as key issues, this comic series doesn't have much and only lasted 20 issues. It was cancelled in 1957. Jack Kirby does have artwork in issue #14.

Battle Ground #1 has the cover date of September, 1954.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

1st issue to war comic series

Concerning the Big Five war titles that DC Comics had during the time, Our Fighting Forces is a comic series that belongs in that group.

It's also one of the more valuable war comic series out there in the market today, and this series did spawn a few classic characters such as Gunner and Sarge and Pooch. The comic series also had two issues that inspired Roy Lichtenstein's paintings as well.

There are a few grey-tone covers in this war comic series as well, and we'll get to those soon enough. Cover art is by Jerry Grandenetti, and November, 1954 is the cover date for Our Fighting Forces #1.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

1st Bob Haney DC story
1st Frogman in this title

If we're gonna talk about 1st works under a publisher, this being DC, that led to a successful career launch for a writer, it would be strange to leave out Bob Haney's 1st DC work in this issue of All-American Men of War #17.

Haney is a comic legend who helped to create quite a few notable characters for DC Comics. This story that he did called "Frogman's Secret!" earned him a long as a comic writer for DC.

Just some of the notable co-creations Bob  Haney has amassed are the original Teen Titans, Wonder Girl, Metamorpho, a prototype of Sgt. Rock, Tula from the Aquaman mythos, the host of House of Mystery named Cain, and Bruce's brother Thomas Wayne Jr. just to name a few.

His work in war comics should be notable as well, though industry has yet to note this issue as Bob Haney's 1st DC work. January, 1955 is the cover date for All-American Men of War #17.

Last Pre-Code issue
1st Joe Kubert cover for comic series

Joe Kubert is a legendary comic artist for a variety of reasons. His layouts are stunning, his visual perspective is awe inspiring, and his versatility is simply amazing.

Kubert could create great pieces of work no matter what genre he took on. Although pre-code issues for war comics as well as horror comics are must haves for fans, covers by Joe Kubert should be sought out as well.

This isn't Joe Kubert's 1st comic cover ever. It's his first cover for this specific title, but it's worth noting here. All-American Men of War #18 has the cover date of February, 1955.

Easy Co. prototype

I guess, I'll just state it now. When it comes to the character of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, there's quite a bit of prototypes.

There definitely was an evolution of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company before they're even considered those characters. Yes, the actual 1st appearance of these DC war characters are still debated about.

Overstreet notes this comic as an Easy Company prototype, and to be honest, all the prototype stuff concerning Sgt. Rock and Easy Company gets a bit confusing cause there's quite a lot if you also count those noted as Pre-Sgt. Rock stories as well.

The character and his men of Easy Company did develop over time before becoming the distinct, concrete characters that comic fans know of. Not a big fan of Sgt. Rock, so I'm definitely no expert. All-American Men of War #21 has the cover date of May, 1955.

1st issue to war comic series
1st appearance of Torpedo Taylor?

Not only did the Marines, Air Force, and Army get stories and comic series dedicated to the bravery and service of those who risked their lives to preserve the American way, the Navy also had adventures spotlighted in comics as well.

Navy Combat was one of these comic series and was published by Atlas. Torpedo Taylor was the featured recurring character in this comic series and I think his 1st appearance is in this #1 issue.

The character was sort of popular during this era but not super popular. Torpedo Taylor was the head of the torpedo room on the U.S.S. Barracuda during World War Two.

I think the character was created by Don Heck, but not too sure about that. 

By this time, the Comic Code Authority had emerged and this comic is A Comic Code approved series. The overt visual violence and harsh and brutal war stories in these Code approved comics would diminish greatly.

However, despite the lack of brutal depictions of war for these Code approved comics, the bias and racist attitudes and depictions of the Japanese were still very prevalent. Thus is war.

Navy Combat #1 has the cover date of June, 1955.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

1st Sgt Rock prototype 

Here we are with some Sgt. Rock prototypes and this issue is noted as being the 1st in a line of developing stages for the character. This character was in the story, "Combat Anchor Man," and was called The Rock.

Story was drawn by Joe Kubert, and this issue is another cover rendered by Jerry Grandenetti. Script for Combat Anchor Man was written by Ed Herron.

Due to the popularity of Sgt. Rock, this 1st prototype for the character is not surprisingly one of the more valuable keys in this comic series. All-American Men of War #28 has the cover date of December, 1955.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

Atomic bomb cover
Nuclear attack story

Once again, atomic bomb covers or stories dealing with nuclear attacks are pretty sought out within the collecting world of war comics. This issue is still from the 1st series of G.I. Combat when it was published by Quality.

As most of us know, DC Comics would acquire the rights to this comic series. The nuclear story contained in this issue is called "Atomic Rocket Assault!"

Not a very expensive comic currently compared to other atomic bomb covers, G.I. Combat #32 has the cover date of January, 1956.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

1st issue to comic series

Charlton Comics would also get into the war comics craze, but many of their titles are less popular in the current market. The Fightin' Navy comic series started with issue #74 and continued the numbering from Don Winslow of the Navy.

Most of the tales in the comic series take place during World War II fighting the Japanese and Germans. Fightin' Navy #74 has the cover date of January, 1956.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

1st issue to war comics series

Bringing in some more Charlton Comics here, and this series starts off with issue #3. If you love fighter planes and jets, this comic features stories of U.S. military pilots that took to the sky and battled enemy planes in action-packed dog fights in both World War II and Korea.

The title lasted 51 issues and was a rebooted series from another war title called Never Again. Fightin' Air Force is a sister publication to other Charlton war comics like Fightin' Army, Fightin' Marines, and Fightin' Navy.

Definitely one of the lesser valuable Golden Age war comics, Fightin' Air Force #3 has the cover date of February, 1956.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

1st DC grey tone war comic cover

If you're into war comics, you also might be into artist Jerry Grandenetti. Not only did he produce some great covers for the war genre in comics, but he is well-known for his wash-tone comic covers.

Wash-tone covers are also known as grey-tone covers and Star-Spangled War Stories #45 is noted as the 1st DC war comic cover to have this distinct style. War comics were not the only comics to have grey-tone covers and DC is obviously not the only publisher that had these style of covers for their comics.

Grey-tone covers are pretty sought out by comic collectors no matter the genre, but Jerry Grandenetti's grey-tone war comic covers are held in high regard. This is not the 1st grey-tone comic cover. It's the 1st DC grey-tone war comic cover, and May, 1956 is the cover date for Star-Spangled War Stories #45.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

Grey-tone cover

Grey-tone cover, wash-tone cover. Some are fans of these types of covers, and this is one of the more valuable ones within the All-American Men of War series.

Cover is by Jerry Grandenetti and All-American Men of War #35 has the cover date of July, 1956.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

2nd Sgt. Rock prototype
1st appearance Easy Co.?
2nd prototype of a character that would eventually be developed into the iconic DC war comic hero, Sgt. Rock. Overstreet notes this as the 1st appearance of Easy Company but with a question mark.

So, I guess, there not too sure and neither am I. This issue does have an Easy Co. story in it, but it's not clear if it's the Easy Co. identified with Sgt. Rock, as the characters in his company are quite specific. 

We'll get a little bit more into that. Like I said, I'm no expert on Sgt. Rock or anything, so I really don't have much input to add on the subject. November, 1956 is the cover date for All-American Men of War #39.

1st DC issue of comic series
Grey-tone comic cover 
After Quality, DC Comics took over the comic series and continued the numbering. This is the 1st DC published issue of the war comic series that became one of the Big Five.

This 1st DC issue also has a grey-tone comic cover by Jerry Grandenetti. This issue is actually valued more than the 1st issue by Quality.

It's not the most valuable comic in the series, but according to guide, it's the 3rd most valuable behind issue #68 and #87, both of which will be featured in this war comics key issues series soon. G.I. Combat #44 has the cover date of January, 1957.

eBay | mycomicshop | ComicLink | ComicConnect

I never really had it in mind to make this a comprehensive list of war comics. I didn't grow up reading nor collecting these type of comics with the exceptions of The 'Nam and Semper Fi during the Copper Age.

So I am definitely no authority on this genre, and have no qualms about admitting so. This series is basically a mish-mash which I'm sure you noticed.

#1 issues, atomic bomb covers, certain classic covers, some 1st appearances, artists, and whatever are covered here to a freeze-dried extent. Not every single key issue or classic cover is covered.

The war comics genre is pretty extensive. A lot of titles were pumped out by various publishers during the time, and it would probably take me the space of a decent sized book to cover them all. Maybe even several volumes.

So, I am trying my best here. There are definitely more knowledgeable collectors of the genre out there for sure.

Anyways, hope you all are having a good one. Click the PART 5 link below to continue. See ya soon.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mayhem,

    tremendous work. That' s realy a gift, how you dive into this different comic material. I mean, I know squat about war comics, and could possibly only name one or two. Anyway, that said I wanted to ask what you think about The Thanos Quest 1 & 2. Just snagged em for 30 bucks, because somewhere in my belly I think they have potential.

    So long

    Max Rebo