Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Star Spangled War Stories #146

Star Spangled War Stories #146 (On Sale: June 17, 1969) has an Enemy Ace cover by Joe Kubert and a declaration that this is a "Special Issue!" That is of course DC talk for reprints!.

There is a very short Joe Kubert drawn framing sequence around the two reprints regarding a new pilot who, as von Hammer puts it, is "mistaken...if you believe only you live in fear of the killer skies!" The first is (Balloon for a Hawk) from Our Fighting Forces #60 by Bob Haney and Russ Heath and concerns the first American to fly with the French. The unnamed Lieutenant plays a bar-room game his first night in France with the French pilots where they throw darts at balloons representing the Germans. The Lieutenant hits the balloon representing the German ace known as the Hawk. But real combat proves more difficult and on his first mission he is shot down by the Hawk, barely making it back to the field before crashing.

When he recovers he is grounded by the French Colonel. But one day, as a Spad is landing The Hawk shoots it down and the Lieutenant leaps for a nearby plane and gives chase. However, the Hawk is a better pilot and slowly lures the Lieutenant's plane over his own filed where he shoots it down and he is taken prisoner. He makes a run for it and hops into a hot-air balloon used to guard the field against strafing. He casts off and is soon facing down the Hawk again, balloon against Fokker. The balloon eventually catches fire and he once again plummets to the ground, only the torn balloon gets caught in a tree breaking his fall and as the Hawk moves in for the kill, the Lieutenant fires the balloons guns and blasts the Hawk out of the sky.

The second is "Brother Enemy" from All-American Men of War #101 by Hank Chapman, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. This story begins with the sinking of Titanic and identical twins Richard and Carl being put on separate lifeboats, while their parents perish. They never do get back together and five years later Richard joins the Air Force and hopes to find Carl also in the service. Everywhere he goes he asks if anyone has seen someone who looks exactly like him, but they always answer in the negative.

One day in a bombing run over Germany Richard gets into a dogfight with a German Black ace, Richard's gunfire rips into the German's cockpit splattering oil into the face of the German ace, who rips off his goggles to see and Richard finds himself looking into his own face. The German ace is his brother Carl. Richard pulls off the fight and lets Carl get away, but back on the ground his loyalty is questioned. On their very next mission they meet the Black Squadron again and this time it is Carl who sends bullets into Richard's cockpit, shattering his goggles. When Richard takes them off Carl sees that it is his brother and this time he is the one to pull out of the fight. He too is reprimanded when he lands.

The next day the two squadrons meet for a third time in the killer skies and Richard and Carl go after each other with everything they have, eventually both running out of bullets. They play a dangerous game of chicken in the air and neither pulls out. Their planes crash into each other. Carl is knocked unconscious and Richard leaps to Carl's disabled plane and while the two squadrons watch, they fall to the ground. Two battered figures crawl from the burning remains and embrace each other as the brothers they are.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

No comments: