Thursday, 30 August 2012

Weird War Tales

Weird War Tales was launched by DC in 1971 under Editor Joe Kubert to exploit the relaxation of  the Comics Code.  Vampires, ghouls, werewolves and other supernatural subjects were now allowed and DC were taking advantage with horror/mystery titles such as House of Mystery, House of Secrets and Witching Hour so Weird War Tales was an attempt to present war stories with a horror/mystery twist.  The first issue was cover dated September/October 1971.
Weird War Tales #1 (September/October 1971)
Art by Joe Kubert
The first seven issues contained a mixture of new stories and reprints from DC's large inventory of war stories from the Big 5 (G I Combat, Star-Spangled War Stories, Our Fighting Forces, All-American Men of War and Our Army at War) mixed in with horror/mystery reprints from House of Mystery.  One popular theme was robots. Stories from The War that Time Forgot series from Star-Spangled War Stories were also often reprinted.
Weird War Tales #6 (July/August 1972)
Art by Joe Kubert
Joe Orlando, a veteran of EC's classic horror line of the 1950s, who was also editing DC's horror/mystery books replaced Joe Kubert as Editor with #8 (November 1972).  Sales must have been strong as with the editorial change all the stories were new.
Weird War Tales #8 (November 1972)
Art by Neal Adams
Weird War Tales #15 (July 1973)
Art by Luis Dominguez
Weird War Tales #38 (June 1975)
Art by Joe Kubert
Weird War Tales #51 (March 1977)
Art by Joe Kubert
Weird War Tales #52 (April 1977)
Art by Joe Kubert
Paul Levitz became Editor with #56 (October 1977) but the content remained similar as Levitz had been the Assistant Editor since #22 (February 1974).
Weird War Tales #58 (December 1977)
Art by Joe Kubert
Weird War Tales #66 (August 1978)
Art by Joe Kubert
Weird War Tales #72 (February 1979)
Art by Joe Kubert
The biggest change in the title was instigated by incoming Editor Len Wein when #93 (November 1980) saw the introduction of the first recurring feature, the Creature Commandos, in a story by J. M. Dematteis and Pat Broderick.
Weird War Tales #93 (November 1980)
Art by Joe Kubert
Len Wein also commissioned Bob Kanigher to revive The War that Time Forgot in #94 (December 1980).
Weird War Tales #94 (December 1980)
Art by Joe Kubert 
Wein's editorial decisions were successful as both features returned to the title and were joined by  a revival of G I Robot in #101 (July 1981).  Bob Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito had introduced the concept in Star-Spangled War Stories #101 (February/March 1962).
Star-Spangled War Stories #101 (February/March 1962)
Pencil art by Ross Andru, inks: Mike Esposito
Weird War Tales #101 (July 1981)
Pencil art by Ross Andru, inks: Dick Giordano
Mike W, Barr had a brief editorial stint (#104 October 1981 - #108 February 1982) before giving way to veteran Julius Schwartz who edited the remainder of the series until cancellation with #124 (June 1983).  A respectable run for a fun comic.


  1. Mixing different genres to attract fans of both is an idea that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. It seemed to work well in Weird War. Maybe war and horror just naturally go together. Having the Grim Reaper as a host gave the series a feel similar to EC's horror comics, or Warren's black-and-white magazines. I don't remember any straight (i.e., non-fantasy) war anthology comics having a host, but it seems to be traditional for horror comics.

  2. I can't think of any non-fantasy hosts either, although I recall that some previously published war stories were published with new wrap-around introductions and conclusions featuring Unknown Soldier in Star-Spangled War Stories.

    1. I seem to remember some Sgt Rock stories where Rock himself would introduce them, narrate them, and appear at the end to deliver the story's moral. It wasn't quite the same, though, as characters like the Crypt Keeper or Uncle Creepy.