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CSBG Archive

Twenty Goofy Moments From DC and Marvel’s Silver Age War Comics

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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?

Go to the next page for the next six!

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A few comments:

You don’t seem to understand the bigot’s dislike of Cohen, when the name is (more often than not) a Jewish name. WWII was only a couple decades removed from the high-point of the KKK, and that group was bigoted against everyone not white & Protestant (and, frankly, were even bigoted against a number of the Protestant sects, as well).

Of course, in the scene where Cohen attacks the Japanese guard, he’d not even made it that far, if that had occurred in Europe (where the Germans put Jewish POWs in separate camps, if not actually executing them on the spot, or sending them to the concentration camps, in a few instances).

What about the USAF on Johnny Cloud’s plane, when the USAF didn’t take that name until 1947 (part of transition that included being called the USAAFfor the latter part of the war through 47)? However, while FINDING the pilot was a bit outlandish, the Germans (and Japanese) tended to use up every pilot they had. Instead of rotating pilots out to keep them fresh, they’d keep them in service until they died or were wounded to the point of not being able to fly. This resulted, eventually, in WWI vets (if they hadn’t already volunteered for service at the beginning of the war) and young teens in the cockpits. Said hawk-eyed pilot probably was in his 40s, and might have even been a squadron commander in WWII.

The Piper story is probably inspired by the piper that went onto the beaches of Normandy, playing (on his commander’s orders). The Germans didn’t shoot at him, because they thought he had to be a lunatic to be doing so. That incident was so famous it even made it into “The Longest Day”

The old “getting revenge in WW2 on old WW1 rivalries/wrongs” probably was used twenty to thirty times in postwar comics. And DC even had Johnny Cloud TIME TRAVEL to both WW1 and the Korean War in some of his stories. And there was one story of SGT ROCK in which Easy Company meets a group of black former Doughboys who hid in France during the German occupation, but have redonned their old uniforms to join the fight.

Ted Nomura (of TIGERS OF TERRA and LUFTWAFFE 1946 fame) has speculated that the markings on Johnny Cloud’s plane was the result of using Monogram’s 1/32nd scale model P-51D Mustang as a visual aid. At the time the series began the model kit was only available in POSTWAR markings…and Johnny’s personal symbol is also a squadron symbol for a fighter unit of the Swedish Air Force that had P-51s after WW2.

Heavy-handed liberal writing hasn’t gotten much better in all these years. Pretty hilarious stuff.

I love that the wig that Little Joe yanks off the transsexual Nazi has a “Made in Germany” label. Hitler must have been planning to flood the English-speaking world with cross-dressing assessories.

Sophia Loren would have been like 10 by the time WWII ended, though…

You don’t seem to understand the bigot’s dislike of Cohen, when the name is (more often than not) a Jewish name. WWII was only a couple decades removed from the high-point of the KKK, and that group was bigoted against everyone not white & Protestant (and, frankly, were even bigoted against a number of the Protestant sects, as well).

The “particularly odd” part is that he gets into a fist fight with a guy on his own team in the middle of a mission. Even for a bigot, that’s weird.

Sophia Loren would have been like 10 by the time WWII ended, though…

Even more disturbing for Dino to be hitting on her then. ;)

While I’m not convinced the Schatzi moment is goofy per se, you’ve left out the goofiest part of that comic, which is that the cover flat out showed Schatzi being dropped from a plane.

You might want to go back and correct some of those “Our World at War”s to “Our Army at War” since that’s the name of the book before it was retitled to “Sgt. Rock.”

Otherwise, good piece. I’ve been enjoying all these goofy moments this month.

Phantom Dennis

May 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Sophia in boy’s clothes is probably a reference to “Two Women”, a post-WWII drama that earned Loren an Oscar. , I think this was the first major category award to a foreign language film. It’s a fairly high-brow refrence considering what the average comic readership age was considered at the time. I guess Marvel had cottoned how many college-age kids were reading their comics at the time.

I’d love to hear the rationale for making Gabe Jones’s skin gray rather than brown. Because gray wasn’t as “threatening” to white readers?

So Johnny Cloud’s father fought in WW I, but can’t describe an enemy plane better than “black hawk of death”? Study up on your German biplane designs, Chief Cloud.

When you’re engaged in deadly dogfights that involve loop-the-loop maneuvers and machine-gun barrages, I recommend against taking your puppy with you. Unless the puppy is a World War I flying ace like Snoopy, that is.

I’d love to hear the rationale for making Gabe Jones’s skin gray rather than brown. Because gray wasn’t as “threatening” to white readers?

I think it was just poor colors. They fixed it pretty early on.

I’m not convinced that is a girl.

This moment from Our World At War #91 is another one of those great Kanigher bits where, yeah, it is goofy and all, but damned if it isn’t really, really awesome…

The Silent Piper is a Bob Haney story, not a Robert Kanigher one. That’s why it’s so goofy even by Kanigher standards. Kanigher is goofy but not quite THAT goofy.

Great stuff. These stories stand up to the test of time IMHO.

Compare them to some of today’s.

I must admit, even though I think Stan Lee could write circles around DC’s writers when it came to Silver Age superhero books, DC’s Silver Age nonsuperhero books pretty much destroy Marvel’s. I can read tons of Kanigher DC war comics but Lee and Kirby war comics once you get past the novelty of the goofiness just wear thin. It gets even worse when people like Thomas and Friedrich take over.

As soon as I saw today’s title, I immediately thought to myself “There are probably going to be quite a few moments from Sgt. Fury mentioned here!” Don’t get me wrong, Sgt. Fury was a fun comic, with some nice art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers. I even own the three Marvel Masterworks collections. But no one is ever going to mistake the series for being a serious depiction of World War II.

That said, you did have the occasional issue that had an emotional punch, like the death of Pamela Hawley in #18, Percy Pinkerton’s origin in #23, and the apocalyptic confrontation between Fury and Strucker in #29.

As for the DC war comics, “goofy moments” or not, there is some absolutely stunning Joe Kubert artwork on display here!

Travis Pelkie

May 30, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I HAVE that Star Spangled War Stories with Schatzi the dog. I even almost had Joe Kubert sign it for me at the Boston Comic Con. It’s goofy, yeah, but it made me a bit misty. Great cover, goofy like Thok said, but just great.

Surprised that after the bigot got a blood transfusion, he didn’t get the proportionate strength and agility of Gabe Jones, or something.

Anyhow, aside from that… the bag piper marching in World War II? Apparently not that crazy. I read about a real guy who actually DID that for the U.K.’s forces in WWII once upon a time. It’s an unreal story, to be sure. Check this out:


Jack “Commando” Churchill. Balls-to-the-wall insane, but true story.

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I just want to know: Did Rock remember to Pay The Piper? :D

Who cares? There’s a reason Kubert has a comic book artist’s school. The man is a genius.

I know I’m replying almost a year late, but… “George Stonewell?” That pretty much has to be a sidelong callout to American Neo-Nazi figurehead George Lincoln Rockwell. The issue came out in early ’64, and Rockwell had already founded the American Nazi Party by that point.

Jeff Nettleton

May 25, 2015 at 4:00 pm

A Native American flying for the Nazis isn’t that far fetched. The Germans did welcome some of their supposed enemies into their ranks, particularly in the SS. Granted, a Native American is a bit more far fetched than a British or Dutch fascist/anti-communist or an IRA member; but, they did also attempt to sow discontent on the allies sides by building alliances with factions in India and in Palestine.

When it came to war comics, DC had it all over Marvel. Stan just wasn’t the right person for them and Roy Thomas had seen too many movies. Gary Friederich was better, and churned out some good ones; but, the nature of the Howlers didn’t really lend itself to many really good tales. Action-packed, yes; but not necessarily poignant. They did manage a few here and there.

Kirby notoriously hated Sgt. Fury, as he had too many nightmares about the war to take it so light-heartedly. He much more enjoyed his time on the Losers, though he hated the “loser” gimmick.

Meanwhile, how can you talk about goofy war stories and not use The Creature Commandos? The very premise defines goofy!

@Jeff: Well, the theme is Silver Age, and the Creature Commandos were created in 1980…

Some of these made me wince…but if nothing else, it proves that Joe Kubert is as good as it gets from a storytelling perspective.

The man is a legend, and deservedly so.

Fail to see how the death of the puppy in Enemy Ace is “goofy.” Upsetting? Yes. Goofy? No.

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