Edited by Michael J. Vassallo; Art Restoration by Allan Harvey. From Dead Reckoning and Marvel. Review copy provided by NetGalley.
Presented here are 50 gritty, dirty, honest, time of war stories from Atlas Comics. Atlas later became Marvel and some of your favorite Marvel writers and artists from the early days are here to remind us all that War is Hell. The war comics were very popular 1951 to 1960 and this collection grabs the best of the best reprinted here with all of the respect they deserve.
The only negative I would have, and let’s get it out of the way, is the presentation of the enemy. Mostly the evil yellow Japanese. Taking in to context the time and attitudes post war, and this book as an archive makes it easier to accept. This isn’t a comic that any kid is going to pick up and form biased views against a country and it’s people. The audience for this book are older readers interested in the history of comics.
For that audience this book is incredible. The last “big” war time comics were Marvel’s The ‘Nam and to a lesser extent, Semper Fi, but those sales numbers pale in comparison to the 50’s output. So many of these stories border on madness. The breaking point of a soldier. Time to either rise to the occasion and live to see another day, or face your last. Men who are alone against the enemy and laugh at the danger.
“Atrocity Story” “No Way Out” “Muck!” written and drawn by men that went to war. They bring a realism to every panel that can only come from the pens of those who lived through it. Adding to the history and accuracy is the clean up job Dead Reckoning did, but not too far. These pages are simultaneously crisp and beautiful to look at but still retain the newsprint quality of the times. Nothing is too clean or too polished, but every page looks like it must have when it was brand new on the stands.
The book is a lot to read all in one sitting. With 50 stories it would be more enjoyable to read one or two stories a day and let them stay with the reader for a time. Page after page of death and bullets and explosions gets to be too much. Due to the honesty of the stories there is a bit of reader guilt too. The voice of the Sargent coming through the panels, “you think reading this is hard?! Try being here instead of hiding at home on the other side of the ocean. Why, you couldn’t make it one day in any of my boy’s shoes. Even the green ones!”
This is officially released September 9, 2020 and would be a great coffee table Christmas present. That family member that loves to study World War II. The comic reader who has everything. The history buff. The veteran. Spending $65 for an oversize hardcover 272 pages that will be cherished and brought back out multiple times is as easy as war is not.
If you would like to purchase a copy for yourself (or as a gift) please click on the following link to do so: