Monday, 20 August 2012

DC Big 5 War Comics: Star-Spangled War Stories

Star-Spangled Comics was launched by DC in 1941 as a superhero anthology title featuring Star-Spangled Kid by Jerry Seigel and Hal Sherman.
Star Spangled Comics #1 (October 1941)
Art by Hal Sherman
Star-Spangled Kid remained as the cover star until #7 (April 1942) with the debut of Guardian and the Newsboy Legion by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
Star Spangled Comics #7 (April 1942)
Pencil Art by Jack Kirby, inks :Joe Simon
Robin took over the cover and featured in his first solo series starting with #65 (February 1947).
Star Spangled Comics #65 (February 1947)
Art by Win Mortimer
DC put Tomahawk on the covers starting with #96 (September 1949) to appeal to the increasing popularity of the western genre.  All-American had been retitled All-American Western in 1948 and All-Star followed  becoming All-Star Western in 1951.
Star  Spangled Comics #96 (September 1949)
Art by Fred Ray
DC switched genres to mystery and horror with #122 (November 1951). Ghost-Breaker got the cover even though both Robin and Tomahawk were still in the comic.
Star Spangled Comics #122 (November 1951)
Art by Leonard Starr
Bob Kanigher finally got his hands on the title in 1952 and Star-Spangled War Stories became part of DC's assault on the war comics market with #131.
Star-Spangled War Stories #131 (August 1952)
Art by Curt Swan
DC decided to start re-numbering the title with the November 1952 issue but astonishingly for modern comics fans chose to ignore a new #1 and start with #3.  This would mean that there are comics in the series which share the same number (#131, #132 and #133).
Star-Spangled War Stories #3 (November 1952)
Art by Curt Swan
Bob Kanigher assembled a stellar team of artists including Irv Novick, Jerry Grandenetti, Russ Heath, Ross Andru and Joe Kubert.
Star-Spangled War Stories #48 (August 1956)
Art by Jerry Grandenetti
Star-Spangled War Stories #81 (May 1959)
Art by Russ Heath
The first recurring character made her debut in #84 (August 1959).  Mademoiselle Marie was created by Bob Kanhiger and Jerry Grandenetti and was a member of the French resistance.
Star-Spangled War Stories #84 (August 1959)
Art by Irv Novick
Bob Kanhiger, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito then launched a comics classic, The War that Time Forgot, in #90 (April/May 1960) which pitched American military personnel into combat with prehistoric dinosaurs on a remote Pacific Island.
Star-Spangled War Stories #90 (April/May 1960)
Pencil art by Ross Andru, inks:Mike Esposito
Star-Spangled War Stories #125 (February/March 1966)
Pencil art by Ross Andru, inks: Mike Esposito
My favourite war series, Enemy Ace, became the headliner in #138 (April/May 1968) by the peerless team of Kanigher and Kubert.
Star-Spangled War Stories #138 (April/May 1968)
Art by Joe Kubert
Bob Kanigher and Joe Kubert had 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).  The next classic series to make its home in Star-Spangled War Stories was the Unknown Soldier in #151 (June/July 1970), written and drawn by Joe Kubert.
Star-Spangled War Stories #151 (June/July 1970)
Art by Joe Kubert
The Unknown Soldier had first appeared in a Sgt.Rock story in Our Army at War #168 (June 1966) by Kanigher and Kubert.
Our Army at War #168 (June 1966)
Art by Joe Kubert
The great Bob Haney first scripted the series in #155 (February/March 1971).
Star-Spangled War Stories #155 (February/March 1971)
Art by Joe Kubert
Unknown Soldier continued to headline for the remainder of the comic's run until #204 (February/March 1977), when it was renamed Unknown Soldier until cancellation with #268 (October 1982).  Over 40 years as an ongoing title with just over 30 years as a war comic, a true DC classic!


  1. The history of Star Spangled Comics shows the evolution of the medium in general. One can see DC adapting to whichever genre was popular at the time (super hero, Western, horror, war). You can also see the trend away from anthologies and toward ongoing series with continuing characters.

    1. I agree, the pattern with All-American, as you will see in my next post,is similar although All-American did not find a breakout continuing series to see it into the Bronze Age.