Friday, February 19, 2010

Star Spangled War Stories #150

Star Spangled War Stories #150 (On Sale: February 19, 1970) has an Enemy Ace cover by Joe Kubert.

This issue begins with our Enemy Ace cover-story, "3 Graves to Home" written and drawn by Joe Kubert. I liked this story a lot; the reader is asked to imagine themselves in Rittmeister Hans Von Hammer's place, soaring through the air in a wood-strutted, fabric-covered flying machine, high over hostile French territory and suddenly set upon by a squadron of French sopwiths. Kubert is just a master at these aerial fight scenes and the four pages of flying carnage is a wonder to behold.

Von Hammer watches two of him men go down in flaming coffins and he personally dispatches the two sopwiths which took them down. But now he finds himself in the sites of three remaining sopwiths, and as his plane erupts in flames he goes into a power dive hoping to blow out the fire around him. But unable to put out the fire he instead attempts to land the plane. Jumping from the burning wreckage before his fuel tanks blow Von Hammer realizes for the first time that he has been shot in the leg. He finds himself, wounded, alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Despite his injury, he has to move fast and by dusk finds a lone farmhouse. Von Hammer speaks perfect French and as the fates would have it, the woman inside the house is blind. She dresses his wound and then shows him a picture of her son in front of his flying machine for he is a French flier. Von Hammer recognizes the marking on the plane and thinks back to two week prior when he shot this reconnaissance plane out of the air. They are interrupted by a knock at the door and thinking Von Hammer is just a young man in trouble with the local police, she hides him in her vegetable cellar. When she finds out that he may be the Enemy Ace, she points the soldiers to his hiding place. But Von hammer has escaped out an outside door.

Moving only at night Von Hammer slowly makes his way back toward Germany. On the dawn of the third day a young boy finds him sleeping in the family barn. The boy sees that Von Hammer is a pilot, and tells him of his brother, also a pilot and once again Von Hammer shooting down the planes of the brother's squadron. Not knowing Von Hammer is German, the boy gives him cheese and bread before he leaves.

Somehow Von Hammer makes it to the high country bordering Germany and awakens one morning to the lapping of sheep at his face. The young shepherdess who finds him speaks of her fiancé, a pilot in a plane adorned with two hearts entwined. Von Hammer says he does not know of such a plane, but of course he does and recalls how it flew too close to the French reconnaissance balloon it was guarding when Von Hammer riddled the balloon with bullets and it exploded, downing the French plane.

He cannot look the woman in the eyes and leaves quickly. That night during a snow storm Von Hammer finds a cave and builds a fire which he tends through the night. But he is not alone, in the flames he sees the images of all the warriors he has killed in aerial combat and thinks, "The dead are fortunate!...Never again must they wrestle with conscience! It is for us, the living...who must justify war's wanton killing!"

The next morning he makes his way down the mountain and to his Jagdstaffel and the morning after that he finds himself on the tarmac, ready to once again embrace the killer skies. This story was reprinted in DC Special Series #18, Enemy Ace Archives Vol. 2 HC and Showcase Presents: Enemy Ace Vol. 1 TPB.

Next we have a Viking Prince reprint from Brave and the Bold #12, "Monster of the Viking Sea" by Bob Haney and Joe Kubert. The fishing nets of Olaf's village are found cut. Jon investigates and discovers a hidden cavern containing a dinosaur. The dinosaur is trapped inside, but can reach through a small hole to cut the nets.

While Jon plots a strategy to deal with the monster, Ulric, his rival in the tribe plots against Jon. Ulric causes a rockfall which releases the monster. It then attacks the village. Jon forces it out to sea, where Ulric plans to kill Jon. Instead, the monster attack Ulric, taking them both to their deaths at the bottom of the ocean.

We end the issue with "Great Battles in History -- The Marne" drawn and I would guess written by Ric Estrada. The story entails how in 1914, for the first time battles were often wages and lost and won on the telephone.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

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