7. Unknown Soldier
My first exposure to the Unknown Soldier was in Brave & the Bold #146. What a great first impression. Oh, did I ever love the World War Two setting and the team up with this master of disguise. It seemed a lot more ‘realistic’ than other books I had read to that point. Prior to that, I was only aware of the Unknown Soldier through house ads featuring those awesome Kubert covers (the ‘Cave In’ cover to #222 stands out in my mind).
One of the aspects of the Unknown Soldier that really appeals to me is the Man of 1,000 Faces side to the character. To me, a ‘master of disguise’ character has almost limitless possibilities (hence my love for the Chameleon as underused Spidey villain). In this case, it allows him to glide from one horror of war to the next, attempting to dull the impact wherever possible.
This Man of 1,000 Faces is also a man without a face, and this allows him to move anonymously through war zones, fading into the background when necessary. The most talented writers realize that the Unknown Soldier can act as a mirror – reflecting his surroundings. This is perhaps what I like most about the Unknown Soldier. Through him we get to experience the moral ambiguities of war, trying to maintain our balance on a razor’s edge.
The panels to the right are from the Michelinie/Talaoc run. The Unknown Soldier is disguised as a German Officer and has just passed a loyalty test by shooting a young woman. He’s had to make this sacrifice to save thousands of other lives. When I read this type of Unknown Soldier story, I feel like I am sharing his pain and outrage.