on January 30, 2003
This volume, along with "The Sgt. Rock Archives", reprints excellent work by the team of Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. What is particularly astounding about both volumes is that each contain a level of maturity and depth not found in the DC Comics super-hero line at that time (which is not to say those stories are without value). While it is not quite as sophisticated as the stories being told in comics today, both Rock and Enemy Ace tell riveting and complex stories in the war milleu. Enemy Ace is particularly daring, telling the story of a WWI German pilot, and bringing a great sense of moral ambiguity to the procedings.
The key attraction of the Enemy Ace is the depth of Hans von Hammer. He's a skilled fighter and killer, without equal, and so, he is a loner. But above all else, he is a man of duty: to his fatherland, to his men, and to himself. His trophies mean nothing, the opinions of his commrades in arms mean nothing. Only his duty. It's this sense of duty that allows us to sympathize with this otherwise enigmatic soldier, whose only friend is a wolf in the Black Forest.
There are many touches which help bring the character to life. The almost chivalric code that pilots live by, with the loser falling to his death while saluting the victor, for example, bring the war into focus. As does the violence. Now, this isn't "Saving Private Ryan" of course, but Kubert and Kanigher do make it plain that the life of a pilot is nasty, brutish, and short, even for a good one. Hammer live under a very real threat of death everytime he takes to the skies. And Hammer knows this, making him that much more human.
What is particularly interesting about this volume is there is a certain level of repetition. Kanigher was clearly taking his time and finding his way in developing his character, trying to make him work. Thus, we often read variations of the same dialog and themes for much of the volume. Towards the end, Kanigher seems to have gotten hold of the character, as there is a great deal of confidence, and the repetition deminishes. I note this not as a complaint, but with intrigue.
Hopefully, DC will continue publishing volumes of Enemy Ace. While I love the "Big Gun" character, some lesser characters, like the Enemy Ace, offer great storytelling as well, if not better in some cases. This volume is a testiment to that fact.
on December 21, 2002
Enemy Ace was the first character of its kind in comics. Telling the story of a war from the point of view of the foe. However that statment is kind of overplayed as usually the German Hans von Hammer was fighting the French or British. In this volume you will not see him against any American.
The idea of one who's main focus is duty is a powerful one. Von Hammer is a character that can't one can't help but respect. the stories are fine and the art is first rate.
We see only the first glimpse of what later issues will bring on the agony of survival and the inability to protect the young unready men thrown against the foe.
The origional issues are still cheep enough the you can get them for less than the price of this book, however I still favor the Hardcover which will last a lifetime of reading.
And that's what stories are for.
on July 21, 2004
I highly recommend buying this volume if you love comics and originality. Alot was put into it and yet, after reading the whole volume one realizes that probably there were or should have been limits to chivalry. Sometimes a bit silly. Still the character is extremely compelling and the art work/research that went into it, I did not regret my purchase at all.