- Posted by Johanna on May 30, 2009 at 7:44 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- PUBLISHER: Fantagraphics; $28.99 US
Although the comics in this collection are astounding — as I’d expect, since they’re written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by such noted talents as Joe Orlando, Gray Morrow, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Alex Toth, and Wally Wood — it’s the story behind the comic I found most interesting.
Blazing Combat ran for only four quarterly issues in 1965-1966, containing multiple stories in each installment. All are collected here. The stories aren’t all contemporary; some are set in the Civil War, some in WWII or WWI or Korea, some even in the Revolutionary War. No matter the setting, though, the message is how stupid war is, how destructive and numbing and violent and how terrible its effects on soldiers.
I already thought that, so the appeal for me was the gorgeous illustration style. The art is reproduced from “the original printer’s films”, so the work is clear and detailed, with the washes and shading providing depth and a feeling of realism. Those involving planes are the most beautiful to me, because they escape the grime of the grunt.
The stories are still timely. The first shows a kind of waterboarding used to torture a prisoner. The South Vietnamese ally performs the act while an American looks on and thinks, “I can’t order Captain Thanh not to do this — I can only advise!”
It’s obvious that the message is anti-war, so it’s not surprising that once they saw the first issue of the series, the military pulled it out of bases, so a key part of the audience couldn’t buy it. According to editorial matter by Michael Catron (the current copyright holder), wholesalers also destroyed issues instead of putting them on sale in order to censor the stories for being anti-American. That led to a severe drop in sales which caused the series to end quickly.
Also included in this book are interviews with Jim Warren, the original publisher, and Archie Goodwin about their time on the title.