Saturday, 2 June 2012

Joe Kubert Part 2: Enemy Ace

Enemy Ace by Joe Kubert, words by Bob Kanigher
I greatly enjoy war comics.  I grew up reading Commando comics, Battle, Warlord, Victor and other British weeklies in which the second world war was fought endlessly by characters such as Union Jack Jackson, D-Day Dawson, Rat Pack and Major Easy.  I also loved American war comics and DC seemed to be the best as far as I could tell at the time, with Star-Spangled War Stories, G. I. Combat and Our Army at War the titles I tried to seek out.  Towering above all the other war artists was Joe Kubert and his greatest strip, in my opinion, was Enemy Ace.

Enemy Ace by Joe Kubert
Bob Kanigher and Joe Kubert introduced Enemy Ace in Our Army at War #151 (February 1965, also appearing in #153 and #155).  The character also had a trial in Showcase (#57 - #58) before settling in Star-Spangled War Stories for an extended run (#138 - #161, #181 - #183, #200, 1968 -1976).  Hans Von Hammer was a German air ace in World War I who lived a lonely life as a human killing machine above the carnage of the trenches.  Kanigher and Kubert reached an artistic peak with these tales of the tortured soul of the pilot facing death every day, their genius was to make their protagonist German and still make the reader sympathetic to the character.  The World War I setting avoided Nazi politics and this enabled the strip to offer the audience an anti-hero who was both romantic and brutal.

Kubert's art was spectacular and thrilling, featuring peerless character study and sweeping, dynamic aerial action.  The attention to detail in the depiction of the aircraft was superb and the strip remains one of Kubert's favourites.

Fokker DR-I by Joe Kubert, words by Bob Kanigher

During the course of the strip there are some recurring scenes, such as Hammers encounters with "Wolf" and as previously stated in this blog you either believe Kanigher to be the master of building character through the use of repetition or you find it irritating. In Enemy Ace even Kanigher's harshest critics will be forced to admire the skill of the writing and when matched with Kubert's skills as an artist and storyteller you have one of the greatest strips of any genre from any era.

Enemy Ace with recurring character "Wolf", Art by Joe Kubert, words by Bob Kanigher
If you have read Enemy Ace I am sure you will agree that it is one of the highpoints of DC Comics output during the Silver and Bronze Ages.  If you have yet to fall under the spell of the Hammer of Hell then please seek out the stories as collected in Enemy Ace Archives Volumes 1 & 2 or Showcase Presents Enemy Ace. 

Enemy Ace Archives Volume 1

Enemy Ace Archives Volume 2

Showcase Presents Enemy Ace Volume 1


1 comment:

  1. warlord comics.was the despatch rider who welded p.i.a.t on either side of his motor bike to fight the nazis named ryker.why is there no daniel craig peter flint code-name warlord movie in producton?