Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dumb luck aboard a Lancaster bomber

Another really strong back-up story from DC's war comics appeared in Our Fighting Forces #147, cover-dated Feb/March 1974. This one, titled "Arena," was written by Steve Mitchell, a writer I'm not otherwise familiar with, and penciled by Ken Barr.

The story is told from the point of view of a young crewman on a Lancaster bomber, flying on his first night-time combat mission. Along the way, he sees other bombers being torn from the air, while his own plane is damaged and one of his felllow crewmen is killed.

What gives the story real backbone isn't just the strong art, but also the feeling running through the plot that whether you live or die on one of these missions is really just a matter of dumb luck. You can do your job well, but there's nothing you can really do if a random anti-aircraft burst goes off nearby--or if a German night-fighter happens to target your plane.

Like the story discussed in the last post, this was yet another example of the great storytelling that appeared in the back of these comics--very human tales that invoke real emotion when you read them.

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