In honor of Memorial Day, I figured we’d do a special edition of Goofiest Moments. Instead of ranking the top goofiest moments in a series of issues, I’m just going to spotlight twenty goofy moments, chosen almost at random, from DC and Marvel’s Silver Age war comics (for the sake of this exercise I used 1972 as my cut-off point for the “Silver Age”). I intentionally avoided the supernatural war comics like Haunted Tank and War That Time Forgot, as those are too easy to find goofy moments (pretty much every issue was goofy).
The comics in question were mostly written by Robert Kanigher and Stan Lee (DC and Marvel, respectively), with Bob Haney, Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich also being represented. The artwork is by Joe Kubert, Ross Andru/Mike Esposito, Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers, John Severin, Russ Heath and, I believe Jerry Grandenetti (but don’t hold me to Grandenetti). I’ll provide all the issue numbers, so if you’re curious you can look up the creative teams later on your own.
As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Not only were these writers certainly never imagining people still reading these comics decades after they were written, great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).
In this story from Our Fighting Forces #128, there is a lot of goofy stuff.
First off, that a Native-American would go fight for the Nazis as a pilot. Second, that he can get close enough to drop off a personalized request to a duel. Third…well, that’s already pretty darn goofy, right?
From the Unknown Soldier’s first appearance in Star Spangled War Stories #151, imagine if the Chinese WEREN’T U.S. allies in World War II, how would they have been depicted?
In Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos #5, Nick Fury is also duped into having a personal duel with a Nazi. Here, though, the Nazis defeat him just…to take picturs of him for propoganda purposes?
Not exactly one of Baron Von Strucker’s better plans.
Speaking of “just shoot him already!” check out this scene from #54…
In exactly what prison camp would Izzy Cohen not be shot right on the spot? Stretching credulity a bit far there, Friedrich…
Really, Rock, any sergeant would hide his deafness on a mission?
Is Easy Company mothering Rock in this bit from Our Army At War #212, really a bigger concern than everyone not knowing that Rock can’t hear?
I think this Enemy Ace bit from Star Spangled War Stories #142 really captures Kanigher’s over-the-top prose.
In it, Von Hammer kills a man known as the Hangman who had saved his life a few months earlier. Then, of course, the guy’s sister (who is, of course, a master pilot) takes up the cause to get her revenge.
They actually go to the ground to talk it out, where she shows her disapproval.
She then forces Von Hammer to fight an aerial battle, but he (against her wishes) saves her life, leading to an awesome farewell panel…
You have to love the tear drop by Kubert. Awesome stuff. Hilariously over the top, but still awesome.
In Fury #6, Stan Lee sure was anything but subtle when he added a bigoted member to the Howling Commandos…
His treatment of Izzy during a mission is particularly odd…
So, of course, Gabe saves his life with a blood transfusion, but the bigot’s reaction is priceless…
Now, naturally, this rings a bit weird seeing as how the Army was segregated during World War II, but hey, at least Stan got a good story about why prejudice is wrong. The ending of the tale, though, is the oddest part of it…
Is that really the best way to get people to write to you?
In Fury #8, we see the introduction of Percival Pinkerton. The Howling Commandoes don’t exactly acquit themselves well here, do they?
The Losers was a clever attempt by DC to take a bunch of characters who couldn’t make it as solo characters and make them into a team. So the “losers” designation had a bit of a metafictional aspect to it.
In the comic itself, though, the name came from the fact that each of the members of the group had seen some major setbacks (a lost squadron, a lost U-Boat crew, etc.).
That is rough, but they sure did love to yammer on about it. This example from Our Fighting Forces #125 is only SLIGHTLY more over the top than a typical Losers issue…
This moment from Our Army At War #91 is another one of those great
Kanigher Haney bits where, yeah, it is goofy and all, but damned if it isn’t really, really awesome…
In Fury #34, we have a flashback to Fury and his best friend, Red Hargrove, in the days before the U.S. entered World War II.
Ed Brubaker used Red Hargrove a lot in his Marvels Project series. Thankfully, he did not keep the “cigarette holder just like FDR” affectation…
What a weird character bit by Roy Thomas.
Speaking of weird character bits, in Fury #61, Fury and the boys come to rescue their commanding officer, Captain Sawyer, only he is already making his escape. He uses a Nazi secretary (we are shown her earlier in the issue enjoying a night out with her boyfriend)…
Sawyer is taking this a little too far, no?
Dude, you’re starting to sound a bit like a psycho. I hope this lady doesn’t end up like the title character of Boxing Helena…
Even Fury seems a bit weirded out by it all…
Silly, Nazis, you can’t fool a baby!
You know how babies could see Al on Quantum Leap? That’s the same way that they can see Nazis. It is too bad the Lone Wolf and Cub approach was only in Our Army at War #132, it would have been pretty funny to see more of it.
I don’t think I ever would have expected this to be Wild Man’s origin (from Our Army At War #120, where we learn the origins of the names of most of the main guys from Easy Company)…
This Sgt. Fury story (#72) was set during Casablanca and Marvel then had cold feet about HOW much it was Casablanca, so they heavily re-scripted the story and made real cheesy edits to Dick Ayers’ pencils. Here is a sampling of the issue…
Not only did Johnny Cloud have fellow Native-American challenging him to battles, he also had to swear a bizarre oath to his dad in Our Army at War #177 (I think this is a reprint of an earlier story)…
“Yeah, sure Dad, I’ll be sure to kill the guy who you fought in WORLD WAR FREAKIN’ ONE!!”
And yet, as luck would have it…
You can’t beat having a guy dress up in armor and pretend to be St. George (from Star Spangled War Stories #147)…
I love how even Von Hammer is like, “yeah, this dude is nuts.”
From the very next issue, Von Hammer gets a pet dog…
and then DROPS HIM OUT OF A PLANE!!!
Kanigher, you are a sick dude!!
It is weird enough that Dino is hitting on an Italian girl we know to be 16 in Sgt. Fury #30, but then we learn she’s Sophia freakin’ Loren?!
Although nothing beats the revelation earlier in the issue that she is, in fact, a girl….
Perhaps not the best choice of words, Fury!!
Happy Memorial Day, everybody!!