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Joe Simon and Jack Kirby Weep Over the 'Death' of the Boy Commandos

This is "A Wall Between Us," where I spotlight notable examples of comic books breaking the fourth wall. What I'm looking at here is mostly examples from characters other than She-Hulk, Deadpool, Ambush Bug, etc. You know, the kind of stuff that is a bit more of a surprise to the reader. If you have any suggestions, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

The other day, I did a bit about when DC and Marvel first established that the comic book companies, DC and Marvel, actually existed within the DC and Marvel Universes. In that piece, I noted that both Marvel and DC had done a number of metafictional bits in the past, but it wasn't until the 1960s that the companies really established their respective shared universes (there was a big difference in the shared continuity of the DC Universe post-Justice League of America than there was before the League was formed, where the only consistent shared continuity was in the pages of Mort Weisinger-edited titles, including the Batman team-up series, World's Finest Comics). So the earlier examples tended to be one-off stories. One of these one-off stories was this amazing story by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby from Boy Commandos #1. Sean Kleefeld suggested that I give a mention of this story in that column, but I think that it is so cool that it deserves its own column!

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Okay, as you all likely know if you've read enough of my columns over the years, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon were behind the hit series, Captain America Comics, but the owner of the company, Martin Goodman, refused to pay them the royalties on the book that he promised so the creators left after Captain America Comics #10...

They moved over to National Comics (now DC) where they introduced a number of new characters, with the most popular being the Boy Commandos...

The Boy Commandos proved so popular that they soon got their own series...

The problem for Simon and Kirby was an obvious one, that they both ended up serving in World War II, so they had to leave the series. The two men moved on to other projects after the war. However, for a while there, Boy Commandos was probably the third most popular series that National was putting out behind Superman and Batman.

Anyhow, the first issue of Boy Commandos had a story by Kirby and Simon (during this period and really, throughout their careers together, Kirby would typically plot and pencil the stories and then Simon would script and ink them. Sometimes Kirby would do his own dialogue. I believe this story was scripted by Kirby) that involved the death of the Boy Commandos! This news hit the DC offices in a big way.

The news was delivered by another set of Simon and Kirby characters, the Newsboy Legion (they actually predated the Boy Commandos slightly, but really, they were both based on the successful young heroes that Kirby had created at Timely, which were, in turn, based on the successful "kid gang" movies of the era), making a cameo appearance outside of their regular feature in Star Spangled Comics...

National President Jack Liebowitz, Editorial Director Whitney Ellsworth (credited as the editor on Boy Commandos) and Editor Jack Schiff (actual editor on Boy Commandos) are the three guys giving Simon and Kirby grief over the deaths of the Boy Commandos...

Kirby and Simon's reactions are priceless.

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