Sunday, 1 January 2017

Weird War Tales #93 - DC Comics

WEIRD WAR TALES No. 93, November 1980
Published by “DC Comics” as “a war comic book title with supernatural overtones”, Issue Ninety Three of “Weird War Tales” is probably best remembered for both its frighteningly dramatic Joe Kubert cover illustration, and the fact that at a time when the publisher was “trying to revivify the mystery books by putting series into them”, it introduced “World War Two’s weirdest warriors -- The Creature Commandoes!” to the Bronze Age of Comics. It certainly isn’t currently valued at $250 for a 9.6 graded Certified Guaranty Company copy by “My Comic Shop” because of the anthology’s other rather forgettable “war stories with horror, mystery, fantasy and science fiction elements” in them…

Disappointingly however, and despite their debut story featuring the werewolf, vampire and (Frankenstein-inspired) monster ultimately destroying a castle full of Nazi robots in occupied France, J.M. De Matteis’ co-creations don’t appear in the most readily accessible of tales, and it’s easy to see just why the Brooklyn-born writer was later so dismissive of his “silly” idea to simply pen an adventure in which “ya gotta have a lot monsters.” Indeed, with the exception of the “good hearted marine” Lucky Taylor, “whose luck ran out when he stepped on a land mine” and necessitated a group of surgeons to put him back together, the team of blood-thirsty, savage military super-humans are distinctly dislikeable; even Lieutenant Matthew Shrieve of U.S. Army intelligence, who disconcertingly appears to have the most “monstrous spirit” of them all, and is willing to manipulate his men’s “fates as if we were just chattel!”

Bizarrely this twenty-five page periodical’s most memorably disturbing story therefore, is not the New Yorker’s idea that the Third Reich would create a horde of World Leader “android duplicates for the Nazis to slip in secretly”, but actually Mike W. Barr’s yarn “Rising Sun”. Set within the confines of an early Forties relocation camp, where its residents’ only crime was “simply being related to the enemy with which America was at war”, this worrisome narrative unashamedly deals with Colonel Robert Simon’s prejudicial paranoia by depicting the commanding officer instigating a viciously brutal interrogation of his tenants following the discovery of “unauthorised radio broadcasts from this camp to a receiver off the coast -- probably a submarine!”
Writer: J.M. De Matteis, and Artists: Pat Broderick & John Celardo


  1. Wow, you are digging into the past, Simon. 1980? Is this an original issue or a reprint? Either way, you're certainly going back. Perhaps unsurprisingly I have never heard of this series. It does have elements in it that would normally interest me (vampires and werewolves) but it is very doubtful if I'd buy it if I saw it for sale today. Still, good on you for showcasing it.

    1. Thanks Bryan. It was actually one of the comics Roger kindly gifted me for this Christmas, so is an original - I have lots of Weird War Tales, but didn't have this particular one. I don't tend to do the older comics unless I can get hold of them digitally. But in this case I found some nice scans with which to show off the cover and interior artwork.

  2. I think I've seen this before somewhere...It is a nice idea, that could have been done better in my opinion.

    Forgotten Hero fodder for later in the year Simon?

    Cheers Roger.

    1. This was a corking gift, Roger, and has certainly kickstarted my interest in the Creature Commandos; as for "Forgotten Heroes" - I still have a few to finish form last year :-)