“Death in Blue and Grey!”
|Script: Bob Haney
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Colors: Jerry Serpe
Letters: Ben Oda
|Cover price: 40¢
Cover art: George Evans (pencils/inks)
Synopsis: Continuing the story from last issue, we start with a scarred Nazi commando about to drop the limp body of our hero out of a plane. In flashback, we learn that the Unknown Soldier tracked Von Stauffen to a secret Nazi base in South America, from which he planned to pilot a plane to Washington, DC, and bomb the capital. The Unknown Soldier foils his plans and, after miraculously surviving the plane crashing into the Potomac River, tracks Von Stauffen to a town in Virginia. Posing as a Civil War historian, he learns Von Stauffen has assumed the identity of a military school instructor and plans to use his Nazi Fifth Column “cadets” to kidnap America’s top military officials at a special ceremony. Not if our bandaged hero has anything to say about it!
Prime Cut Panels: Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much a fan of dramatic exits as the next red-blooded comic fan, but… was that really necessary, Unknown Soldier? The guys you’re chasing are long gone; it’s not like you were saving any time by busting through the window like that. Now that poor general who got walloped has a massive headache and can look forward to a hefty bill for getting that window fixed. Nice job, hero.
Hold on. Do you think him busting through windows all the time is the real reason he’s always wearing bandages?
Random Thoughts: I can’t call The Unknown Soldier the strangest war title DC ever put out — we’re getting there, believe me — but it’s definitely up there. Continuing the number from DC’s long-running Star Spangled War Stories, The Unknown Soldier ran from 1977 to 1982 starred the anonymous super-spy and master of disguise known only as the Unknown Soldier.
If you turn off your brain and accept some of the more… improbable aspects of the character (like the notion that between the start of World War II and Germany’s surrender this guy signed up for active duty, completed basic training, got assigned overseas, got injured, recuperated, resolved to fight the war a different way, learned how to make lifelike masks and impersonate anyone flawlessly, mastered several languages, developed the contacts a spy needs to operate behind enemy lines and picked up the usual weaponry and fighting skills most super-spies tend to need), it’s not the worst idea out there. Heck, I’d even say there’s a nifty idea here for a weekly wartime drama/super-spy/action TV show (though the thing about his face being covered by bandages all the time might make it hard getting someone to sign on for the starring role).
If they ever did make a show about the Unknown Soldier, this would be a pleasant enough episode: just enough action, no brain power required to enjoy it. It’s an interesting idea, the concept of Nazis using a South American base as a launching point for an attack on U.S. soil, and then we get the audacity of this guy attempting a kidnapping (at tankpoint!) of top military officials. Have to admit, for a Nazi that’s a pretty ballsy move.
There’s a second story, “Return to Beach Red,” in which an American father returns to the South Pacific island where he saw combat 30 years ago, this time bringing his son along for the ride. But while they’re exploring the island, he hears someone in the jungle speaking Japanese and wearing a military uniform… To say anything else would spoil the ending, so I’ll just say it’s impressive how much emotion Bob Haney and Maurice Whitman packed into six pages.
The challenge: Can I review a month’s worth of DC books from January 1980 in under a month?