Military Comics Issue No. 2
Click on the cover for a larger image.
Writer: Will Eisner, Artist: Chuck Cuidera (Cover art by Cuidera)
The Coward Dies Twice: Over the English Channel, the Blackhawks come across a small English patrol under attack by an overwhelming force of Nazis. They immediately join in the fight from which a single Spitfire flees. After finishing off the Nazis, they fly after the deserter and escort him to Blackhawk Island. The English pilot is frightened of these mysterious airmen. We learn through him that the Blackhawks have a bad reputation on the continent because no one knows what their aims are. Blackhawk tells him: "Well you see the Blackhawks are the last of the free men of the conquered countries we fight for the freedom of man rather than for profit or politics!!" This is a clear, unequivocal statement of the theme for the Blackhawk stories. The English flyer is shunned by the Black Knights. Again, Blackhawk explains that they are men made hard by their experiences and they have no use for a man who deserted his comrades in a fight. Just then, Blackhawk is handed an intercepted radio message from Nazi GHQ describing a store of radium that will be used to build an atomic bomb (remember that this story was written in 1941, years before the U.S. nuclear program was made public). The Blackhawks fly off to destroy the atomic material. They land in occupied France and fight against fierce odds to capture the radium and rescue the scientist whom the Nazis are forcing to build their bomb. They escape with the help of a patriotic French beggar but then are blocked again at the airfield. They get off a message to Blackhawk Island which is overheard by the English flyer. He takes off in his Spitfire and crashes into the Nazi squadron, giving the Blackhawks a chance to get into the air and wipe out the remaining German planes. Back on the island, they find a letter in which the English pilot explains that their bravery was an example that allowed him to overcome his cowardice. They all shed a tear in his memory.
The concluding panels of this story introduce a modified design for the Grumman Skyrockets. This issue had shown the Skyrockets with inline engines instead of their actual rotary engines. The new modification replaced the twin vertical stabilizers and rudders with a more conventional single vertical stabilizer and rudder. I suspect the main purpose of this was to make the Skyrocket easier to draw.
Other stories in this issue:
Archie Atkins, Desert Scout
Loops and Banks (by Bud Ernest)
Shot and Shell (by Nordling)
Yankee Eagle (by John Stewart)
Death Patrol (by Jack Cole)
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