Yossel: April 19, 1943!

I don't remember buying Yossel: April 29, 1943, but it's been in my collection for many years, always jumping up at me and imploring me to give it a good hearty well-considered read. I've never done it until now. Joe Kubert is an artist I admired immeasurably before, and after reading this woeful tale of a young boy in the Warsaw Ghetto striving to survive in the maw of the machinery the Nazis specifically built to kill Jews and others undesirables, I admire his talent and skill even more.

Yossel is represented from Kubert's pencil art, and he says in an introduction it was so that the immediacy and power of his pencils would not be lost or blunted by later considered inking. The story itself concerns a young man who is an artist and who is saved by using his art. The drawings here seem to be the very art we are reading about. Here Kubert reflects and imagines what his life might've been had his family not persisted and had not escaped the clutches of the Nazi reg…

The Last Outrage!

The suffering or the Jews and others during the Holocaust is a horror which weirdly fascinates and repels at the same time. The intense practiced cruel cold-blooded murder and torture inflicted on men women and children over the course of years is difficult to fathom, and so some will say it never happened. They prefer a world in which such evil didn't exist or they would like that the hate they themselves feel were more justifiable and the Holocaust makes that impossible. And some just never seem to get it, to understand that such evil is fundamentally different, yet still a part of man. The desire to expunge the "other" is all too commonplace, even in our "enlightened" modern day. 

In the story "The Last Outrage" which perhaps inspired this collection, we are introduced to Dina Babbitt, a survivor of Auschwitz who had made a successful career in animation in the years after the liberation of the camp and the end of the war. She worked on cartoons a…

Gold Rush!

I grew up a Marvel fan for the most part and what I knew of the Marvel Universe like everyone else was found in their countless comics produced over decades. Then at last I wearied of the chase and the comic universe the MU had become was not recognizable. Many years before Marvel had at long last found success in the movie theaters with series like Blade and The X-Men, and later the Avengers cycle. As I drifted farther and farther from the comics the movies became the centerpiece of what I know as the Marvel Universe. And in that cinematic universe much is made of the uber villain Magneto and his beginnings as a waif who loses nearly everything in the monstrous death camps of the Nazis. The films have made an empathetic character out of the villain if not at all times a sympathetic one. That began in this comic. 

Written by Chris Claremont and drawn by the late Dave Cockrum, this X-Men story finds the team in the middle of one of their never ending sagas while inside the mind of Pro…

World War III!

At the same time that Atomic War! was being published 1952 and 1953, the Ace Comics brand knocked out a second nearly identical comic book title World War III. The two books had pretty much the same premise, the United States undergoes a devastating sneak attack by the Soviets and atomic power is used repeatedly. I don't get the sense the books were part of the same continuity, but it would be really easy to make them so. If anything World War III had a more sci-fi feel than its companion. The cover to the first issue is one of the most iconic in all the lore of the comic field. Alas the stories beneath are more pedestrian in nature than the wild chaotic  cover.

Aside from the first story which does deliver this feel, the rest of the stories are about counter attacks and are more in the traditional war comics mode save with more futuristic weapons and gear. There are a couple of full-page images which really communicate the sense of destruction an atomic attack could wreak.

The s…

Blazing Combat Four!

And then came the fourth and final issue of Blazing Combat's brief run. Despite compelling stories by editor Archie Goodwin and artwork by some of the finest talents in the history of the comic book business including Frank Frazetta who produced all four covers, Blazing Combat was beaten back off the magazine shelves by a widespread decision not to carry it. It's content was considered controversial, too questioning of matters of war and state and so those in power decided it needed to exist and after this issue it didn't.

"Conflict!" is a story written by Goodwin and drawn by Gene Colan of Vietnam and offers up a complex yet simple war tale of men who are not only fighting the enemy but their own  prejudices. A black medic elicits the ire and verbal abuse of a stout warrior who has little regard to the medic's desire to tend to all the wounded, even the enemy. But circumstances make it such that he medic is all that stands between this racist and his final …

The Calypso Connection!

Captain America is the original World War II hero and in this follow up to the story in which we learn he helped liberate the fictional death camp called "Diebenwald" we learn more about the suffering of Cap's landlady Anna Kappelbaum. In Captain America #245 we discover that she was sexually assaulted by the commandant of the camp, a fellow named Klaus Mendelhaus. She happens to see Mendelhaus and soon after is approached by Nazi hunter Aaron Heller and his daughter. They find  Mendelhaus who seems to be regretful of his many crimes and Anna is unable to kill him when given the chance. Heller's daughter does shoot him down when her father dies of a heart attack. 

This story written by Roger McKenzie and drawn by Carmine Infantino and Joe Rubenstein is a nifty rousing adventure, but somehow its message of folks need to forgive seems a little underdeveloped. I understand that victims like Anna need to forgive for their own sake and not for their attackers, but Mendel…

From The Ashes!

Captain America is the original World War II hero and despite being created by two young Jewish men and owned by a Jewish family never battled the infamous threat of the death camps directly, though he mowed down many a Nazi in his time. Taking on the "Holocaust" would have to wait until the Bronze Age of comics and issue #237 of the second Captain America series. The talents who bring Cap face to face with the final solution are writers Chris Claremont and Roger McKenzie and artists Sal Buscema and Don Perlin. 

It happens that Cap had just put down the threat of the National Force led by a former Captain America the racist Cap from the 1950's. After the seeming death of Sharon Carter he's looking for a new direction (something Cap did a lot alas) and seeks to back away from his hero identity and find some solace as a private citizen named Steve Rogers. To that end he moves into a new apartment building, one owned by Anna Kapplebaum a survivor of the camps and in pa…