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Friday, April 8, 2016

War Comics Key Issues Part 12

Getting back to this key issues series for a brief one. We're at Part 12 to this war comics key issues, and we're finally moving out of the Silver Age.

If you missed Part 11, click the link to head on back. If not, here's the next batch of war comic key issues.

1st Fighting Devil Dog Lt. Larry Rock

Looks like Sgt. Rock has a brother, and he just happens to be Lt. Larry Rock of the U.S. Marine Corps. Known as the Fighting Devil Dog, Larry Rock really doesn't have all that many appearances in comics over-all.

I pretty much consider him a minor character, but if you're a fan of Sgt. Rock, this key may be worth looking at. So, 1st appearance of Larry Rock and Our Fighting Forces #95 has the cover date of October, 1965.

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1st appearance of Lt. Steve Savage

There was a Golden Age character called Captain Steve Savage from Avon Publishing, but this DC Steve Savage is not connected to the character. Both are pilots, but the Avon version fought in the Korean War, and this Steve Savage fought in World War I.

Lt. Steve Savage was known as the Balloon Buster, and it would later be revamped that Brian Savage, better known as Scalphunter, is Steve Savage's father. Scalphunter would first appear in Weird Western Tales #39 during the Bronze Age of comics.

All-American Men of War #112 has the cover date of December, 1965.

1st appearance of Eric Koenig
Origin of Fury's eye patch

Well, since Nick Fury's eye patch is pretty identifiable to the character, you gotta have an origin story about that, right? Of course, you do, and so it was done in this issue.

Basically, he injures his eye in a battle during World War II, but didn't lose eyesight in that eye until later. Even more important for this issue is the 1st appearance of Eric Koenig, a German defector who would eventually switch sides from Nazi Germany and become a Howler.

That doesn't happen until a later issue, though. He is a prominent member of the Howling Commandos and was one of the members to have even helped Nick Fury to form S.H.I.E.L.D. in later comics.

Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #27 has the cover date of February, 1966.

1st appearance of Capt. Hunter

A pretty minor character in DC's war comics during the Silver Age, Captain Phillip Hunter grew up in a military family and chose to follow his father's career path by joining the United States Army. In this issue, Capt. Hunter is already a veteran of the Korean War, but when he has a strong feeling that his brother Nick is being interrogated in a Viet Cong prison camp, Captain Phillip re-enlists to head a rescue mission to retrieve his brother.

Captain Hunter doesn't have that many appearances in comics, and Our Fighting Forces #99 has the cover date of April, 1966.

1st appearance of Unknown Soldier

When it comes to popular war comics characters on both the DC and Marvel side of things, the Unknown Soldier is definitely one of them. The appeal of this character was that no one knew who he was as his face was always covered with bandages, which became the iconic look for the Unknown Soldier.

There were hints later on as to who the character might be, but in his early appearances, the mystery was kept. There are seemingly different versions of the character, and once again, this character was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. The Unknown Soldier first appears in this issue in a Sgt. Rock story called, "I Knew The Unknown Soldier!".

So, pretty cool there already. Even cooler is the origin of the character's creation. The Unknown Soldier is named after the monument in Arlington Cemetery which honors all the U.S. soldiers who died in combat and remains could not be identified. The monument is often referred to as the Tomb of the Unknowns or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

This monument is depicted and referenced often in the character's stories. Our Army at War #168 isn't crazy valuable over-all. A CGC 9.6 sold at Heritage for $1015.75 back in 2011. Still, 9.2 CGCs still sell within the $400 to $600 range. A CGC 9.2 sold at ComicConnect for $455 in 2014.

So, it is valuable in higher grades for sure, but not crazy valuable across the board. Our Army at War #168 has the cover date of June, 1966.

Origin of the Howling Commandos

And we finally have the 1st origin of the Howling Commandos, in which the story that details the beginnings of this group is bluntly entitled, "Origin of the Howlers!". This recounting is actually performed by Captain "Happy Sam" Sawyer, Fury's commanding officer and first appeared in the 1st issue of the comic series.

When Sam is ordered to find two good men to assist him in a mission to Holland, he recruits Nick Fury and his friend Red Hargrove. This comic also shows the origin of how Fury meets Dum Dum Dugan, who is a strongman at a traveling circus.

Actually, when Sawyer is instructed to form a special Commando Squad in the story, it reveals how he meets each individual member of the Howlers. Important key issue for Nick Fury fans? I'd have to say definitely.

However, it is pretty over-looked currently. Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #34 has the cover date of September, 1966.

Eric Koenig joins
Dino Manelli leaves team
1st appearance of Corporal Ricketts Johnson

We got one Howler leaving, and Eric Koenig finally joining the team. This issue also sees the first appearance of Corporal Ricketts Johnson.

Who says that there's no rivalry within the U.S. Military? Well, when it comes to Corporal Johnson, he is the 2nd in command to Bull McGiveney, leader of the Maulers.

The Maulers and Howlers were rivals, and they first appeared in issue #7 of the titled series. Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #35 has the cover date of October, 1966.

1st appearance of the Hellcats
1st appearance of Lt. Hunter

Influenced by the movie the Dirty Dozen, Howard Liss and Jack Abel created the Hellcats. This unit was expendable and mostly made of the Army's riff-raff, excluding Lt. Ben Hunter.

If you haven't noticed the connection yet, Ben Hunter is the father of Capt. Hunter and served during World War II. Hunter recruited his unit from the Army prison stockade, and all had done time prior to being enlisted.

The team under Lt. Hunter consisted of Brute, Juggler, Light Fingers, Snake-Oil, and Swinger. All served faithfully under Hunter's command during World War II, and they all make their first appearances in this comic.

Our Fighting Forces #106 has the cover date of April, 1967.

G.I. COMBAT #138
1st appearance of the Losers

This is the 1st appearance of the original Losers. The movie was based off the Vertigo version of the team, but before that team was created, legendary Robert Kanigher created this version of team.

The original Losers were Captain Storm, flying ace Johnny Cloud, and Sarge and Gunner. Their first appearance is in the Haunted Tank story called, "The Losers" within this issue.

The Losers would become the main feature of Our Fighting Forces starting with issue #123. With the Losers, Kanigher would emphasize the negative aspects of war.

As mentioned before, a new Losers team would be created under the Vertigo brand, but this is the classic line up and team. G.I. Combat #138 has the cover date of November, 1969.

In terms of war comics, there's quite a few 1st appearances in Part 12. The Losers remained relatively popular during the Silver Age and Bronze Age, but not immensely popular since super-heroes came back full-force.

Sgt. Fury was integrated into Marvel's super-hero genre quite early on, and Fury & members of the Howling Commandos would be fully integrated into the genre with S.H.I.E.L.D. However, the Sgt Fury title and it's stories about World War II did last for quite a bit.

The series went to 167 issues, but issues #121 to the final issue were all reprints. Issues #80 through #120 contained half new material and half reprinted adventures. 

The Unknown Soldier is definitely worth mentioning and seems to have a big enough fan base. I don't know that much about the character, so it's confusing to me which are the different Unknown Soldiers since it seems to be implied that others took up the mantle of the character.

Anyways, it looks like we'll be getting into Bronze Age war comics in Part 13. See ya then.


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