Showcase Presents The Unknown Soldier TP Vol 01 Paperback – Nov 15 2006
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DC, in its WAR genre hayday, Sgt. Rock and his Easy Company (now in a color archieve book edition and a graphic novel "Between A Rock & A hard Place"), The Haunted Tank (also now in another Black & White Showcase edition), Enemy Ace (also now in a color Archieve edition), The Losers (which combined heroes Johnny Cloud, Captain Storm and Gunner & Sarge) (so DC, where is the Archieve or Showcase edition of this one?), Weird War (which was strange war tales), Man of War (a black American OSS agent), and the Unknown Soldier
This collection of tales of the Unknown Soldier starts with his first appearence in the pages of Star Spangled War. This collectiom of the first 38 issues of SSW is worth an Unkown Soldier fan. Joe Kubert and Dan Spiegles art work make this collection one to keep
The story of the Unknown Soldier is simple. This man of a thousand faces , working for the USA, becomes some person in the war from a soldier to a general . The man become a turning in the war and then vanishes
OKAY, This book for me is pure escapest war stuff! 1970's Americana promoting the smart USA against the dumb axises. It was great entertainment for my 20 cents then ..and the book is a feel good project reflection an era gone by.For me, In reading this collection, I am eleven years old again and buying these at cappy's newsstand
DC Comics with their Showcase books have brought back character driven collections like the Phantom Stranger, The Haunted Tank, and Jonah Hex (see my Review) as well reprinting Early stories of Shazam (see my review), Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Justice League and Brave & the Bold (Batman team up books). these collections are over 500 pages for under $20, worth it to recapture comics of old.
I hope that DC will seek out the original DC showcase books from the 1960's themselves > Some had characters like Hawk & Dove, Bat Lash and even James Bond Dr No in comic form. well I can hope
Bennet Pomerantz AUDIOWORLD
The Unknown Soldier... the man whom no one knows, but is known by everyone! Created by Joe Kubert, and first appearing in Star-Spangled War Stories #151 (1970), his face was ruined in a grenade attack that killed his brother. Remaining in the service as a covert operative for US intelligence, this master of disguise moves behind the enemy lines of World War II like a ghost, supporting the troops of Europe, Africa, and the Pacific Theater through his espionage activities and impersonations of both Allied and Axis figures.
This collection features tales from Star-Spangled War Stories # 151 - 190, written by Kubert, Bob Haney, Frank Robbins, Robert Kanigher, and Archie Goodwin; and illustrated by Kubert, Jack Sparling, Dan Spiegle, and Gerry Talaoc. Good grief, could the talent roster be any more impressive? The stories are quick and to the point, yet packed with tons of plot and action; seriously, even the shorter stories in this collection contain more action than many of today's full-length comics. The stories pull no punches when it comes to the realities of the war - spies, concentration camps, and death around every corner. Also of note is the obvious research the writers did in order to stage the Unknown Soldier's missions during actual events of World War II, such as the cracking of Japan's Purple Code, the Casablanca Conference, and the German Resistance's plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The art is consistently stellar, even though it moves through a number of contributors. These guys all knew how to draw normal, everyday people and military hardware, exhibiting much more talent than many of the artists on DC's superhero titles.
I'm hoping for more volumes featuring DC's war characters, and the Unknown Soldier is at the top of the list.
This is Kubert's unique creation of war espionage fiction and his dedication to the unknown soldiers who have fought in every American war up to WWII. From its very first issue Kubert places his new hero within a larger historical context: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and WWI ("They Came From Shangri-La," July, 1970). In that same issue, Kubert shows us a resourceful and courageous hero who doesn't hesitate to answer the call of duty. The US's primary motive is patriotism and a love for freedom. The US says "I've answered their call... Just as my forefathers have... for generations! Even as far back as the revolutionary war!" In the story of his origins, Kubert reveals how the hero's face was disfigured while fighting the Japanese along with his brother in the Pacific. When he is offered a Congressional Medal of Honor, the hero's patriotism is highlighted through his speech: "Before he died, my brother said that 'one man can make a difference in the right place' can affect the outcome of a battle... or war... I want to be that man! ... I want a chance to prove that Harry was right, sir... to show that he didn't die in vain!" Thus, the US stories set the tones of the war romance that characterized other DC heroes such as Sgt. Rock, The Haunted Tank, and The Losers. The US is given a mission and he accomplishes it to his satisfaction, always remembering that he does it to heighten the memories of all those who have died fighting. Other US writers Bob Haney, (Mar. 1971-Jan. 1973), Robert Kanigher's only appearance where he matches his Sgt. Rock with US (July 1971), Archie Goodwin, (Feb.-July 1973), and Frank Robbins (Aug. 1973 - Oct. 1974) and illustrators of that same period Dan Spiegle and Jack Sparling continue the tradition of the war romance established by Kubert. Even as far as August of 1974, Robbins revisits with detail the origins of the US as that hero helps out Phillipino guerrillas in "One Guy in the Right Place..."
Also Kubert consistently brings these stories into historical contexts by adding real pictures of the war along with dates of important battles. One of the most dramatic first pages are the Holocaust images of concentration camps and dead bodies, with the title Totentanz (Sep. 1971). In this story, the US makes a difference in the lives of Jewish prisoners in a concentration camp as he rescues an important leader of an underground movement who helps Jewish refugees. An example of Kubert's use of illustrations to set mood and tone to a story is his collaboration in Kanigher's only title here, "Sgt. Rock.," cited above. As the US collaborates with the Rock, Kubert fills the atmosphere with rain, dense fog, and snow to add tensions and mystery to this action-packed story. In the end, the US remains a mystery to Sgt. Rock even though the man has saved his life several times in this story. My all-time favorite Kubert cover page is #180, June 1974 where the US faces mines approaching his raft, while sharks await him in the water. The US is shown ready to jump in shark-infested waters yelling, "Floating mines! Jump... or we're dead! These war romances not only include the Holocaust but also the race issue. The US's major assistance is a black sergeant called "Cat Noir" and the story of his origins as a resistance fighter in occupied France is told in "Invasion Game." A story that deals directly with racism is told by Frank Robbins in "A Town Called Hate!" where the Germans, aware of racial tensions, use them to divide Americans there. The US soldier must step in to solve these tensions.
Starting December 1974, David Michelinie and artist Gerry Talaoc make an overhaul in the US character. They leave the "one man can make a difference" for a cynical tone and mood. While Michelinie adds a cynical tone, Talaoc draws the US to make him look like a skull, giving it an ugly and deadly appearance. Harry, important to the US's memories and patriotic motives is omitted. In "8,000 to One," Michelinie's first story, the US loses his face because of a Japanese grenade after Pearl Harbor. Frustrated because he can't recover his face, he tells us that war has "stripped away my humanity, left me with nothing but bitterness, and so I dedicated myself to the destruction of that war. Through intense training I became a human killing machine..." The following story is told with regret as he has to kill a Jewish girl to protect his cover and save 8,000 lives. In the conclusion, the US's darker tones are felt as he tells readers "Only history has a way of praising results... and forgetting the rest..." making reference to the girl he killed. Later, the US calls himself a "soulless war machine, after my specialties had become subversion, destruction, and assassination" (Feb. 1975). In "The Hero," which has an ironic conclusion, the US describes his face as a "glaring Halloween mask" (Mar. 1975). It is very likely that Michelinie's noirish tones and plots with people always trapped by their circumstances are an influence of America's reaction to the lost war in Viet Nam, which was a fact by late 1974 and 1975.
The original concept from Joe Kubert and Bob Haney seemed to be an almost anthology-like series in which The Unknown Soldier assumes the identity of a new soldier each issue. He turns up, in no particular order, from one major battle to another, often to boost allied troop morale. With Kubert and Haney, we have an origin story (which would be eluded back to again and again in some slightly different form), a crossover with Sgt Rock's Easy Company, and Le Chat Noir - Unknown Soldier's African-American assistant who has a very unconvincing backstory as a leader of the French Resistance (he is discarded by later writers). My favorite of Haney's work is "Kill the General!" from Star Spangled War Stories No 163 in which Unknown Soldier must thwart a Nazi attempt to assassinate Eisenhower. That issue is very well paced.
Archie Goodwin takes over from there and begins exploring themes associated with honor, loyalty, and betrayal in wartime rather than tying each issue to an historic event. The lines also begin to blur as some Americans are no longer portrayed as honorable and some enemy soldiers demonstrate greater depth. In "Appointment In Prague" from Star Spangled War Stories No 171, we finally learn how Unknown Soldier became a master of disguise and meet his acting mentor, though the story takes a very dark turn and eventually involves them both being betrayed by a child with a grenade.
Goodwin stayed on as editor with Frank Robbins writing. Under Robbins, the stories begin offering an episodic continuity from one issue to another. Other comic book conventions like establishing an arch-enemy, similarly disfigured, with the same ability to disguise himself. Robbins' stories involved more female characters - some very strong, but often as sacrificial lambs. Le Chat Noir makes a memorable, though short return in Star Spangled War Stories No 179, "A Town Called Hate!", which, surprisingly and one would think controversially involving a race incident between American troops. One four-star general giving orders in this issue to Le Chat Noir asks his white assistant, "Major, how do you deal with pig-headed, ornery boneheads like 'them'?" Unfortunately, artist Jack Sparling's depiction of African-American troops often border on charicature.
This volume finishes out with writer David Micheline ramping up (or having to ramp up) the sensationalism. For the first time, the disfigured Unknown Soldier begins appearing without a mask or bandages. We have more women used as either sacrificial lambs or seduced by Nazi lovers, a British doctor aiding the Nazis in exchange for unethical experimentation on prisoners, and a priest who supports the Nazi occupiers of his town after witnessing Nazis disguised as Americans driving recklessly into a group of school children. There is an unrealistic over-reliance throughout the volume on Nazis doing terrible things while dressed as Americans.
Altogether, an interesting first exploration of this little-known character whose look seems inspired by Claude Rains' Invisible Man - and who, likely himself, later inspired Larry Hama's Snake-Eyes character from Marvel's GI Joe series.