Monday, March 24, 2008

The War That Time Forgot

top cover by Russ Heath
bottom cover by Ross Andru

In 1960, dinosaurs were (as always) popular with kids. World War II themed comics were also selling well. So why not drop a remote Pacific island full of dinosaurs into a World War II comic book?

That basically was the logic behind "The War That Time Forgot," a series of adventures that ran in Star Spangled War Stories from 1960 to 1968. A few additional stories later appeared in Weird War Tales and a couple of stories from the original run were reprinted in the 1970s in G.I. War Tales.

The stories, written by Bob Kanigher, were rarely more than servicable in terms of plot or characterizations, but the art work was always first rate. And that's why these particular stories existed in the first place--so we could see soldiers wielding tommy guns, bazookas and grenades desperately doing battle with a variety of prehistoric fauna. It is one of those rare cases in which story really is completely secondary to the images.

And, boy-0-boy, did this series deliver in that regard. Top notch artists such as Ross Andru, Russ Heath, Joe Kubert and Neil Adams all did time on the series. The covers alone are worth the price of admission. But inside those covers, we see a tyranosaur ripping the turret off a Sherman tank; or a stegasaurus battling a squad of Marines; or a horde of pteradactyls doing battle with a B-17. It doesn't get any better than that.

That darn island of dinosaurs still pops up in DC comics from time to time. Superman, the younger Green Arrow and Black Canary have all visited the place in recent years. The "War That Time Forgot" is not yet forgotten by its fans--it was a geeky, silly idea for a comic series, but the world is a better place because of it.

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