Military Comics Issue No. 9

Click on the cover for a larger image.

April 1942

Writer: Dick French, Artist: Chuck Cuidera (Cover art by the Will Eisner Shop)

The Man in the Iron Mask: The introductory paragraph reminds of us of Andre, the brave Blackhawk who sacrificed his life to save his teammates back in Issue No. 3. Then we are shown a stomy night in Jugoslavia, where, beneath a brooding castle, the Blackhawks have come to mourn the loss of Andre on his birthday in the spot where he died. As they return to their planes, the storm grows too strong for them to fly. They go to the castle to take shelter, but discover that it is the regional headquarters for the Nazis. A mysterious man in a iron helmet warns them of their danger and then proceeds to save them after the Blackhawks manage to get captured anyway. This involves several terrific fights and a very neat set of panels that show the rescuers above a trapdoor and the other Blackhawks in the dungeon beneath. Cuideara's art may not have had the polish and style of Crandall, but he sure did some clever things with a comics page, back when it was all still new. The man in the iron mask sees them off to a hidden tunnel and bids them "farewell, mes amis!" As they walk down the tunnel, Blackhawk has a flash of insight and realizes who the masked man must be. They return to the castle to find the man in the iron mask being tortured by the Nazis. Of course, they thrash the Nazis and save the masked man. It is indeed Andre, who survived being shot and buried in an avalanche, but only to be left with a face so hideously scarred that no on can look at it. Blackkhawk is not deterred, though. While the rest of the team takes Andre back to Blackhawk Island, he flies alone to Germany where he pulls off a daring escape from a German concentration camp. He returns home with Dr. Fritz Von Rath, "the greatest plastic surgeon in the world!" One small problem, though. The Doctor has been driven completely mad by the horrors of the concentration camp. Can he restore Andre's face? That's left to the next issue.

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