Military Comics Issue No. 12

Click on the cover for a larger image.

October 1942

Writer: Dick French, Artist: Reed Crandall (Cover art by the Will Eisner Shop)

Blackhawk - An 11-page story that starts out with an ethereal narrator describing how a certain leather briefcase's contents are so priceless that the outcome of the present war depends on their contents, and even the entire pre-determined plan of all human existence will be disrupted upon their disclosure, and segues into Blackhawk trying to track down the mysterious briefcase and the meaning of a mysterious, yet unknown, word that seems to follow the briefcase and the death of all who get near it, "XANUKHARA." The trail leads the Blackhawk team to Quake Island, where all the US military troops, although at their post, are dead! The trail actually leads all the way to Tokyo where the Blackhawks have to crash land and steal Japanese aircraft to escape to the next step of the trail, China. The team manages to get shot down in China ("Holy cow!! I forgot we're in a Jap plane!!!"), crash-landing again. This time they are met by some mysterious and very attractive women whose leader, XANUKHARA, shows Blackhawk the case. Although propositioned by the voluptuous blonde, Blackhawk throws the case into a handy fireplace, followed immediately by a large explosion that leaves everyone wondering if XANUKHARA was blown up or will be back? The narrator reappears and confirms the contents of the case will remain a secret forever, "because there is no punishment so terrible as revealing a man's future."

Your editor's opinion about this story: This is, without doubt, one of the silliest Blackhawk stories I have read. It makes some of the secret identity stories of the late '60s seem down right plausible by comparison. The plot is so disjointed and confusing that it is practically non-existant. And what plot is there relies much too heavily on coincidence. The team, other than Blackhawk, are barely in the story and Blackhawk behaves so out of character that he is hardly recognizable. This is the first story illustrated by Reed Crandall and his figure work is, indeed, quite good, especially the female characters. But his drawing of aircraft and backgrounds leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, he draws the Blackhawks' Grumman Skyrockets in the radically modified form instigated by Chuck Cuidera right before he left the strip to go into the Army. The coloring is also strange, apparently done by someone who had not bothered to look at previous Blackhawk stories. The planes are all orange, the Blackhawks have brown boots, and Hendrickson's hair and mustache are brown instead of white. After seeing this anomolous story, it is amazing that there were any further published.

The Sniper - Six-page story. A green-arrow like character that has, "shall we say 'eliminated' many Nazis." In this story the Sniper has tracked down a man infamous for killing French Underground members. As the Sniper captures the killer and returns him to the scene of his latest crime, he asks the dead French men for their vote on the killers' fate. As the murderer laughs about dead men not being able to respond, one man moves his hand to give a "thumbs-down" and the murderer collapses, frightened to death. The conclusion? The killer never realized that rigor mortis could be his judge.

Shot and Shell - Four-page story of Col. Sam Shot and Slim Shell. The two are running from the Gestapo when they are assisted by a mime (yes, a French mime!). The mime, demanding repayment for his assistance, tries out a hypnosis experiment he has been unable to get permission to perform and hypnotizes the two into only being able to stand/walk on their hands. The Gestapo winds up chasing them across the countryside as they flee on hand.

Loops and Banks - Six-page story set in the Pacific with two Marine aviators fighting on the deck of a carrier. When broken up by a Navy Commander they relate a tale of flying their bomber (looks like a B-26, from a carrier?) over Tokyo, getting shot down by "Nakijima 95's", and getting captured. They are befriended by a beautiful Geisha who helps them escape and steal a "Mitsubishi 96", dropping the Japanese bombs on Tokyo and having to wave a white undershirt so they wouldn't get shot down as they returned to the carrier (carrier landing?). The reason for the fight on deck? One Marine feels he should get more credit, "cause it was his undershirt."

X of the Underground - Five page story. The story of a band of young women underground fighters, led by a beautiful Russian named Sonya ("X"). As they trick and kill Nazi swine, "X" runs into an old friend, an reporter, Jimmy Gray. In the end, as one underground agent is killed, her sister avenges her death, and another link is added to the vast chain of the underground.

Phantom Clipper - Eight-page story starring LT. "Tiger Shark" and "Jewaldri." Tiger's "phantom clipper", armed with a large deck gun, patrols the seas off New Guinea. After destroying a "Jap cruiser" he runs into the Mikado (Emperor of Japan) who has decided to take his mind off the war with a fishing trip in his yacht. Briefly chased by the Mikado's escort ships, the phantom clipper runs aground and Jap marines and the Mikado capture Lt Shark's crew. Of course the good guys manage to escape as the phantom clipper slips away, but so does the Mikado.

Inferior Man - Two-page cartoon staring a meek doughboy like marine who secretly transforms into "Inferior Man" and saves the troop ship from a Japanese sub, destroying the bad guys.

Death Patrol - Five-page story starring "Del" and his "Death Patrol." Opens with Der Furer complaining about the Death Patrol while his agents plot their death. Meanwhile, Del hears a Nazi sub is shadowing a boat carrying children to the U.S. He jumps in his Gee-Bee like aircraft and dives on the sub, nearly blacking out. But, he manages to use the wing of his airplane to steer the Nazi torpedo back at the sub while his near-blackout gives him strange images of a sub, a tank, and an airplane, all with Hitler's face. The story closes with Adolf, fists clenched, saying, "As if I didn't have enough troubles. Sometimes I t'ink I'm KRAZY!"

Death to the Killer - Two-page text story about the principality of Shan-zeh, the sudden death of it's king, and a royal in the RAF that returns to find the king's killer, establish free voting for the leadership of the country, and then return to England to carry on with his bombing of the enemy.

Blue Tracer and The Thing - Six-page story about the Blue Tracer, his Aussie friend "Boomerang" Jones and his "shell-proof flying tank" to fight against the newest Jap terror, The Thing (a mechanical giant piloted by a Japanese soldier dreaming of Hirohito making him the Imperial Potentate of America after he destroys the Blue Tracer)! An epic battle, looking bad for the good guys until they think of using a wooden boomerang to get around the magnetic field of The Thing to knock out the pilot.

Secret War News - with the "Saga of the USS Marblehead". Based on an actual story with facts from USN Information Bureaus. Great A. McWilliams art about multiple attacks on the ship, superb damage control and a little luck as the ship limps home for repair.

The Atlantic Patrol - One-pager about U.S. Navy K-3 blimp that manages to destroy a German U-boat with depth bombs.

Thanks to Stratton Hicky for providing the synopses of the stories.

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