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Saturday, February 6, 2016

War Comics Key Issues Part 8

Alright, I decided to drop another post to this war comics key issues series before I dive into something else briefly and then return to the series. We are getting into some more specific and interesting keys.

Many of these are definitely no light weights in terms of comic investments or comics to invest in either. I will get into a little history here and there, but not too in-depth.

Just a little a bit though. You may find them interesting or not.

Okay, you can deploy back to Part 7 in case you missed the post. Just click the link. Otherwise, saddle up cause here comes a few more war comics keys heading towards ya.

1st appearance of Haunted Tank
1st appearance Jeb Stuart
1st Arch Asher, Rick Rawlins, & Slim Stryker
General J.E.B. Stuart

We've finally arrived to the Haunted Tank! If you want to know another crazy, sought out, valuable, fan-favorite from the war comics genre, than the Haunted Tank and it's first appearance is definitely one of them.

Let us not forget about the crew that commanded the Haunted Tank, though. This also features the 1st appearance of Jeb Stuart and the ghost of the Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart, a real historical person I might add.

So it's a no brainer that Jeb Stuart is a descendant of J.E.B. Stuart and the spirit of ole Alexander the Great sends J.E.B. Stuart's spirit as a guardian to his descendant and the tank that's named after him, the M3 Stuart. That origin is not revealed in this issue though.

The M3 Stuart tank is a real tank and was originally named the Light Tank M3. It was an American tank that was also supplied to the British during World War II, and it was the British who actually gave it the name of "Stuart" in homage to the Confederate General.  

Americans weren't the first to name it "Stuart", nor adopted the name during the war. On the American side, the light tank was only referred to as the "Light Tank M3".

In case you didn't know, the British, as a nation, did support the Confederate cause during the Civil War since they were heavily engaged in and profited quite handsomely off the transatlantic slave trade. Sad but true, but it was big business then and even for many African rulers or leaders who sold their enemies to European slave traders 

The M3 Stuart crew also consists of Arch Asher, Rick Rawlins, and Slim Stryker, all who also make their 1st appearances in this highly sought out war comics key issue. The Haunted Tank was the 2nd longest running war comics feature, and even has ties to The Losers.

Jeb is the tank commander, Rick Rawlins is the gunner, and Slim Stryker is the driver and the crew started with the North African campaign before eventually entering the European theater. So, a war comic, but still pretty fantastical and entering into the more supernatural aspect.

Regardless, still one of the best war comic investments out there in the market. G.I. Combat #87 has the cover date of May, 1961.

2nd appearance of Haunted Tank

Here we have the 2nd appearance of the Haunted Tank and it's crew. I have been pretty negligent when it comes to 2nd appearances in this war comics key issues series, but this one I definitely feels needs to be featured.

In terms of Haunted Tank appearances after this 2nd appearance, it's pretty straight-forward as the feature does stay in the G.I. Combat titled series for quite a while. So the 3rd and 4th appearances of the Haunted Tank are in G.I. Combat #89 & #90.

The story featuring the Haunted Tank and it's crew is called "Haunted Tank vs. Ghost Tank", and I forgot to mention that the Haunted Tank and it's main characters were created by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath.

One of the more valuable key issues in the titled series (6th according to guide), the 2nd appearance and story of the Haunted Tank in G.I. Combat #88 has the cover date of July, 1961.

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1st appearance of Sunny
1st appearance of Wee Willie

More additions to the Easy Company roster, and this issue sees a double whammy. Both Sunny and Wee Willie are introduced in Our Army at War #111.

Wee Willie was nicknamed this due to his diminutive size and his real name is unknown. Samuel "Sunny" Gordon is considered a core member of Easy Co. and got his nickname because he was always smiling.

Both do recur in the adventures of Easy Co., but they do not have a lot of over-all appearances. Our Army at War #111 has the cover date of October, 1961.

Classic Easy Co. roster cover
1st appearance of Tag-A-Long Thomas 

Here's a classic cover involving Sgt. Rock and men of Easy Co. Pretty cool, actually, but this issue also does see the 1st appearance of a new member. That character is Tag-A-Long Thomas.

He got his nickname because he had a habit of  copying whatever Sgt. Rock did and also followed him into potentially dangerous solo activities during combat. Of course, he was initially seen as a hindrance at first but the character proves himself when he saves Sgt. Rock a few times. 

Not sure whether he appears that often, though, in the stories regarding Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. Our Army at War #112 has the cover date of November, 1961.

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1st appearance of Wildman & Jackie Johnson

When it comes to comics, it's hard not to get political. There are a lot of political elements in comics and that went as far back as early Superman adventures when he was shown fighting for worker's rights (Action Comics #3 1938). It's even harder not to when dealing with certain aspects of war comics as well.

I tried my best not to get overtly political, because it's like being in a bar. People get heated when it comes to the subject, and they start to go overboard.  Especially online where everyone can be a keyboard tough guy, so I'll just stick to some historical facts here.

I've already detailed some of the reasons why there weren't that many female war comic heroes depicted in actual combat on the U.S. side in Part 6 of this series. However, when it comes to the character of Jackie Johnson, an African American member of Easy Co., it should be noted that historically, this was a bold move during the time World War II.

There was segregation in the U.S. military during World War II. Unlike females during the era, African American males were allowed to fight in combat, but in segregated groups or units in all the branches of the military.

Jackie Johnson becoming a member of Easy Co. was definitely going against racial segregation in the U.S. military during WWII. Once again, not very realistic by any account, but by the time this issue came out, the Armed Forces were already integrated. The practice of racial segregation in the U.S. military ended with an executive order by President Harry S. Truman in 1948.

The character of Jackie Johnson was an amalgamation of Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis, both athletes who did serve during World War II. Jackie Robinson also faced a court-martial in 1944 which started when he supposedly sat next to a white woman on a bus in Texas.

Actually, the woman was the light-skinned wife of another black officer that the bus driver Milton Reneger thought was white. Milton ordered Robinson to move to a further seat in the back, which Jackie boldly refused.

So Jackie was charged with showing disrespect toward a superior officer and failing to obey a direct command. Two charges that are very serious in the military.

Col. Paul L. Bates refused to sanction the court-martial, but the papers did eventually get signed. However, at the trial, Bates was the biggest supporter of Jackie and thought of him as an exemplary officer. Robinson ended up being acquitted.

Lieutenant Colonel Bates was the commander of the 761st Tank Battalion, the 1st African American Tank Battalion to enter combat during World War II. Bates is a white officer and even refused a promotion to Colonel because it would have separated him from what he believed to be one of the best Tank Battalions in the U.S. Army.

Obviously, he was eventually promoted to Colonel. The 761st Tank Battalion did help to pierce the Siegfried Line and fought in the famous Battle of the Bulge among many others since they were deployed in 1944. Despite their exemplary combat record during World War II, the 761st Tank Battalion were finally awarded the Presidential Unit Citation “for extraordinary heroism in action” in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter 33 years after the end of World War II. 

Alright back to the subject at hand here. So, given the racial climate in the military at this time, it seems highly unlikely that Sgt. Rock would have gotten away with allowing an African American to serve under him among a majority white Easy Company. If Easy Co. was all-black with the exception of Sgt. Rock in command, this would have been acceptable.

But this is comic books, however, and I suppose the creators were trying to make a statement. After all, the civil rights movement was still going on during the time.

To further the inspiration of the character to his real-life sources, Jackie Johnson was also a former boxing champion before enlisting and becoming a member of Easy Co.

Wildman was a college professor before becoming a member of Easy. He was given the nickname because of his wild and almost wreckless way of fighting during combat.

Both characters recur often in Sgt. Rock's adventures with Easy Company. Our Army at War #113 has the cover date of December, 1961.

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1st Haunted Tank cover
5th appearance of Haunted Tank
Grey-tone cover

1st off, a pretty bad ass cover by Russ Heath. Speaking of covers, this issue here has the 1st Haunted Tank to grace the cover of a comic book. Definitely one of the more popular DC Comics features in the war comics genre, and 1st covers of characters have been proven to be quite collectible comic investments.

This issue here is the 5th most valuable G.I. Combat issue according to Overstreet Guide and is even more valuable than the 2nd appearance of the feature. It is a grey-tone cover, and G.I. Combat #91 has the 5th appearance of the Haunted Tank, 1st cover appearance, and the cover date of January, 1962.

So a little bit of history for ya. Most you probably already know, but it's neat to tie some of it into comics since some of it is actually used in the comics.

As for covers, the 1st Haunted Tank comic cover is friggin' awesome. Holy moly! The G.I. Combat #88 cover is also pretty bad ass as well.

Quite a few great comics to invest in whether you're into war comics or not. Not to say you should or shouldn't. That's you're call, but some of these are quite valuable already.

I've got a few on my want list. Anyway, Superbowl is tomorrow so I know a lot of people are going to be watching that. Me? I'm just gonna try my best to avoid traffic since they decided to hold it near my area. Argghhh!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend. Happy hunting! See ya guys n gals soon for more key issue comic goodness.

1 comment:

  1. I loved GI Combat as a kid and the adventures of the Haunted Tank. Thanks for posting this!