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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

War Comics Key Issues Part 6

And we are back with Part 6 to this war comics key issues series. During this time in the Silver Age, there are quite a lot of specific key issues and 1st appearances of popular war comic characters for sure.

If you missed Part 5 to this key comic issues series, just hit that blue link to head on back. Otherwise, let's lock and load.

Classic American Flag cover

While I don't necessarily consider this a key issue, this comic cover is definitely a great one and example of American patriotism. You can't go wrong with the American flag, even more so when a G.I. soldier holds it in honor of a friend while firing at an incoming fighter plane in what appears to be an impossible feat to survive.

I'm surprised that this cover here isn't considered a classic cover by industry, but you know what? I think it is and deserves to be such. 

I think this is another cover by Jerry Grandenetti, but not too sure. G.I. Combat #74 has the cover date of July, 1959.

2nd appearance of Sgt. Rock

Issue #84 has the 2nd appearance Sgt. Frank Rock in the story "Laughter of Snakehead Hill". Another amazing yet intense cover by Joe Kubert depicting an up close and personal struggle between a Nazi soldier and an American G.I. from Easy Company.

The cover definitely captures the featured story. Sgt Rock and the men of Easy Company are stationed on Snakehead Hill. Although greatly running short on supplies, they are ordered to hold their position even when Nazi soldiers come across the unit.

When their bullets run out, Sgt. Rock and Easy Company have to fend off the Nazis with their bare hands. Intense? Yep! Awesome? You bet! Our Army at War #84 that features the 2nd appearance of Sgt. Rock has the cover date of July, 1959, and it's not an easy find online.

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1st appearance of Mademoiselle Marie

Although there weren't many female characters in war comics, the ladies were not exempt from them. There was Canteen Kate, and although her stories was in a military-themed comic, it was more on the romance or humor side.

Canteen Kate did work for the Army but really didn't do much except for scheming up different disguises and plans so she could be closer to her boyfriend, Al. In reality, American women did serve in the Armed Forces during World War II primarily as nurses or clerical positions.

Mlle Maria, however, was based on the female French Resistance fighters of World War II and most notably Simone Segouin. Her comic career saw her fight in World War II as a French Resistance fighter and was the only known love interest for Sgt. Rock. She's an extremely popular character and her 1st appearance is quite valuable.

This first appearance is of the original Mademoiselle Marie, and like most of the popular war comics characters, she would be somewhat tied into the superhero genre later.

Marie would have a daughter in later comics named Julia Remarque. It was revealed that Alfred Pennyworth is the father, and he was an intelligence agent in France during the war where he met Mlle Marie.

The name Mademoiselle Marie would be used as a code name in the DC Universe, so there are several characters who have took the name. Anais Guillot is the real name of this most popular and original Mlle Marie in comics.

While France did allow a small number of females to enter combat during World War I and II, the U.S. did not allow female service combatants. Even after the World Wars, the Combat Exclusion Policy was written into The Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 in the U.S.

While the integration law did allow women to serve as permanent, regular members in the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, and Airforce during peace time and war time, it also barred them from positions or units whose purpose were to engage in direct combat. In April  of 1993, combat exclusion was lifted from aviation positions by Secretary of Defense Les Aspin under President Bill Clinton.

There were still restrictions, however, in terms of positions regarding aviation units in direct support of ground units and special operations aviation units. The combat exclusion policy was completely lifted in 2013, though service women still did engage in combat in the Gulf and Iraq wars. 

A small group of American women did serve as combat soldiers in the Revolutionary, Civil, and Mexican Wars in U.S. history. They had to disguise themselves as men in order to do so.

Star-Spangled War Stories #84 features the 1st appearance of Mlle Marie and August, 1959 is the cover date for this comic. Not an easy find for this key issue, and Mlle Marie was created by was created by Robert Kanigher and Jerry Grandenetti.

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1st appearance of Ice Cream Soldier
Origin of Ice Cream Soldier
3rd appearance of Sgt. Rock

Is Ice Cream Soldier really the 1st specific, recurring Easy Company members to appear in comics? Not sure, but it looks like it.

Phil Mason is his real name and he's usually selected as the point man on various missions. He got his nickname from being at his best in combat during cold weather and his ability to keep a cool head under pressure.

CGC and Overstreet does not note it yet, but Our Army at War #85 also has the 3rd appearance of Sgt. Rock. Cover date for this key issue is August, 1959.

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Grey-tone cover
Grey-tone covers begin

Another grey-tone cover by legendary Jerry Grandenetti. This issue also has artwork by Russ Heath in Buck Private Jet!, Irv Novick in the story Dogtag Hill!, and Jack Abel in Tin Pot for A Tank!

The grey-tone covers begin continually starting with this issue here. They end with issue #109

Not really much else to say, but if you're into the grey-tone or wash-tone covers, this one is pretty darn cool! G.I. Combat #75 has the cover date of August, 1959.

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1st appearance of Pooch

Hey, you gotta give love to all those who served if you're an American, and that includes military canines as well. Well, Pooch was one of the first recurring military canine, comic characters and pretty popular as well.

Pooch fought along side of Gunner & Sarge during World War II, and would later become the mascot for the Losers. Definitely an important character and first appearance for Gunner & Sarge.

So here's a little bit about how our canine friends have served in the military. Hounds were used during the American Civil War to protect, send messages and guard prisoners, and in World War I, dogs were used as mascots on American propaganda and recruitment posters.

During World War II, the Soviet Union sent dogs strapped with explosives against invading German tanks but with very little success. Dogs were also used during World War II in the Pacific theater by the U.S. to help recapture islands taken over by the Japanese.

The Doberman Pinscher became the official dog of the USMC (United States Marine Corps), and our canine friends also served in the Vietnam War. So, giving respect to all the canines who served.

1st appearance of Pooch is in this issue of Our Fighting Forces #49, and it has the cover date of September, 1959. Not an easy find online.

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1st Sgt. Rock cover

Overstreet notes this as the 1st Sgt Rock cover, but CGC does not. A bit strange since Overstreet has been noting this back in 2000 as well.

Well, if you're into your favorite characters and their 1st cover appearances, Our Army at War #88 should be one to snag if you're a Sgt. Rock and Easy Company fan. 

November, 1959 is the cover date for Our Army at War #88.

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I'm gonna get away from the actual comic investment or key issue aspect of this particular series for a brief moment here. 

As an American, I cannot express my gratitude and respect enough for those who have served this country past, present and future. Though comic historians have regarded many war comics propaganda, these comics do mainly depict the sacrifice, patriotism, and bravery of military men and women.

Sure, racist depictions are obviously present in them. Even some of the comic artists that drew these comics even admit to this. Yes, these war comics reflect a time and mentality of those eras, but they do represent much, much, much more than just that.

Not saying that anyone should or shouldn't be offended by some of the depictions of certain groups in many of these comics. That's pretty much up to you.

I pretty much think these war comics honor those who put their lives on the line so we can basically have one. To me, that's the important part to remember, and they will always have my gratitude and respect. 'Nuff said!

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