& Peter Enfantino
|Our Fighting Forces #1|
The Korean War was half a dozen years in the past but you'd not have known that staring at a comics spinner in 1959. War is Hell but war was also profitable if you were a comic book publisher in the 1950s. Literally dozens of titles popped up on the already cluttered newsstands attempting to take a chunk of Little Johnny's allowance. The major publishers were involved: Charlton (Battlefield Action, Submarine Attack, War at Sea, and the four "Fightin" titles: Fightin' Air Force, Fightin' Marines, Fightin' Navy, and Fightin' Army among others); Atlas (Battlefield, Battlefront, Battle Ground, Battle Action, etc.); and of course, most famously, EC (Two-Fisted Tales, Frontline Combat). The publisher renowned for Superman and Batman got into the act in August of 1952 when it retitled one of its superhero books (Star-Spangled Comics, which had been showcasing the adventures of Dr. Thirteen, Tomahawk, and Robin, the Boy Wonder) Star-Spangled War Comics and introduced a second title, Our Army At War. The following month the company again confused rack-spinners looking hungrily for All-American Western #127, only to be turned away in sadness when the realization sunk in that AAW was now All-American Men of War! October saw the release of Our Fighting Forces #1, and the final piece in what DC War scholars dubbed "The Big Five," G. I. Combat, debuted under the DC logo in January 1957. This last title may have been the most confounding for collectors as the first 43 issues were published by Quality Comics. When that company went belly-up in '56, National (DC) acquired the rights to many of the titles and characters published by Quality, including G.I. Combat (as well as the quasi-war title Blackhawk and Jack Cole's Plastic Man), which didn't even miss a month of publication between publishers. Beginning next week (with June 1959) we'll take a look at the best stories that were published in each month's output of "The Big Five."
|Star Spangled #3 - First issue|
|Our Army at War #1|
|GI Combat #44 - First DC issue|
PE: Neither of us are all that learned about the wars in the background of these dramas so don't be surprised that we're focusing instead on the characterization and plot lines rather than whether a Panzer II was the right defensive weapon to be used in Ardennes or the calibers of different handguns. We'll concentrate instead on the outstanding writing and jaw-dropping art. We'd also like to hear your views on the DC war titles. Stick around and let us know how we're doing.
John Scoleri: Though I'll remain a conscientious objector for much of what is covered here, I begged Peter to let me in on the War That Time Forgot stories. I can't be the only one whose green army men regularly went to battle with plastic dinosaurs, can I?
NEXT WEEK: JUNE 1959
|All American Men at War #1|