Monday, July 11, 2011

Memoirs of a Bronze Age Baby: All Out War #1

As far as I can piece together, this was the first war comic I ever owned. I was pretty keen on the whole Dollar Comic format and any #1 issue caught my eye as I was excited to get in on the ground floor. Looking back, the whole Viking Commando concept never appealed to me (still doesn't), but there were a few good stories in here. One tale began with a soldier taking a bullet through the head. That certainly got my attention as a 9 year old, and that one had the harshest ending I'd seen up until that point. There's also an interesting tale about African-Americans Air Force pilots, and some questions about the Haunted Tank's confederate flag. I was also very intrigued by Gunner, Sarge & Pooch. I know for a fact that I would not have liked the Force 3 story because of the Jerry Grandenetti artwork. What can I say? I was just a stupid kid.


Four-Color Kid said...

The Viking Commando was another of Robert Kanigher's recycled idea.

A few years earlier he wrote a weird two part story in OUR ARMY AT WAR # 162-163 which teamed-up Sgt. Rock and the Viking Prince (a Prince Valiant inspired character created by Kanigher and Kubert in the early issues of BRAVE & THE BOLD).

Since ALL-OUT WAR was a brand new title with mostly all-new characters, Kanigher was probably asked to come up with new series for the war anthology. He wrote more than half the pages in this giant comc book after all.

I'm guessing he remembered the weird team-up and wanted to play again with the out-of-place/time- soldier concept. But there was a problem, the Viking Prince had died and went to Valhalla at the end of the OUR ARMY AT WAR story.

I don't have my copy of ALL-OUT WAR # 1 underhand, but IIRC, they had pretty much the same origin right? Both viking warriors were frozen in ice in their time, and an explosion during a WWII battle between US troops and germans woke them up.

But one thing always bugged me about the concept: shouldn't a viking warrior fght on the side of Germany since most of Scandinavia was on Germany's side during WWII. Plus, the nazis adopted many elements of norse mythology into their propaganda.

Benoît Leblanc said...

For the life of me I can't understand why some folks (pros, even!) don't like the idea of DC's dollar comics. I love 'em.

I never read All-out war#1 but remember the house ad for it very well, and that cover was a real eye-catcher. (Of course, I can't think of a Kubert cover that didn't make me want to buy a book, but...)

Four-Color Kid said...

I'm with you Benoît!
I like all giant formats (and DC had quite a few variations). Most of the giant format from DC were either full reprints or had a new main story with a bunch of reprinted back-up stories. Which was a great and cheap way to discover Golden Age and Silver Age gems when you were a Bronze Age boy (I was born in 1965, so I started to read at the very beginning of the Bronze Age).

But of all the giant-sized format DC hads put out over the years, Dollar Comics were a special case because (if i am not mistaken), they were all-new stories and art. Plus, I think the anthology format was awesome and i miss it.

My favorite were the last few issues of the BATMAN FAMILY and the DETECTIVE COMICS run of # 481-495 (after they had merge the two titles) where you could get a Micheal Golden DEMON, or some Ditko, some Starlin...)

Oh! and the short lived TIME WARP sci-fi anthology with more art from Ditko, Newton, Chaykin, etc).

Benoît Leblanc said...

Hi Four-Color Kid!

Oh yeah, Time warp... very cool comics. By some stroke of luck four of those issues made their way to my hometown when they saw print and I read them voraciously. I even used them in class as a kid! We had to research a subject and present it in front of the class, and since I had decided to talk about American comics I thought a nice Kaluta S-F cover would be seen as less nerdy than, say, an issue of Hulk!

I'm not sure there would be a market for that kind of simple, more innocent stories nowadays but they were good while they lasted.

Martin Wisse said...

" since most of Scandinavia was on Germany's side during WWII"?

The benefits of an American education strike again, but don't repeat that slur in Norway or Denmark, both conquored and occupied by Germany in WWII. And while Sweden was neutral and profited from doing business with the nazis, didn't mean they liked them or had much choice if they didn't wish to share the same faith.

Finland is a special case, not so much rooting for Germany as trying to get their own back on Russia who'd they just lost a war from...

All of which is too subtle for the Viking Commando, but he knows gutless cowards when he sees them and in a Kanigher DC war comic those be the Germans...

(Great concept, but soso execution...)

Edo Bosnar said...

I remember having this issue, but I hardly remember any of the stories - I wasn't much of a war comics fan, but I did love DC's dollar comics.
So I have to join in on Benoît's and Four-Color Kid's love fest; yes, those earlier giant comics with the Golden/Silver Age reprints were awesome, and I absolutely loved the later dollar comics with all new materials. My personal favorites were the dollar comic phases of Adventure (with, among other things, those great Deadman stories) and World's Finest (in which the main Superman/Batman story was often the least interesting part!)

M W Gallaher said...

It surprises me when I discover any DC series characters from the Bronze Age that I was completely unaware of. I had a vague awareness of the Viking Commando, but didn't know about Black Eagle or Force 3, since (a) they didn't, for some reason, rate a Who's Who entry, (b) I didn't follow the war comics, (c) they, unlike almost every other DC trademark of the era, haven't been revived/reworked (to my knowledge), (d) probably weren't memorable enough for today's comics fans to still be discussing. I'm very curious, though; I'll be looking to sample some of these.

Scott M said...

Why would anyone not like Dollar Comics? They are fantastic. Lots of goodness hidden in those pages. Time Warp is a very special series.