Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Window War

cover art by Joe Kubert
In many of the approximately 800 billion war stories Bob Kanigher wrote for DC Comics, he was not above using a gimmick upon which to build a particular story. Sometimes, those gimmicks were a bit odd. For instance, the cover story from G.I. Combat #73 (June 1959) was keyed off two friends who used to do a lot of window shopping in civilian life, with one of them always complaining that he could never afford to buy all the wonderful stuff kept behind the glass.

So naturally, when the two men are fighting in France, they keep running into less-than-wonderful things behind windows. While on patrol through a bombed-out town, they run into a sniper and a German who likes to drop hand grenades down on the enemy.

So the two friends are happy when their unit moves into a forest. No windows here!

Well, that's not quite right, is it? The gun slit on a pillbox is a sort of window. As are the view slits on a tank they run into not long after.

So the story is definitely gimmicky. But that's actually okay, because Kanigher's plot construction and Ross Andru's excellent art help make "Window War" a good story with several very tense and exciting moments. Several pages in which the two soldiers are pinned down by a tank and then realize they are out of bazooka ammunition is particularly good.

When the fighting moves back into a town, the soldiers get a chance to be inside a window looking out, but even this proves to be dangerous.

The lesson we learn? Windows are booby traps no matter what, but there's no way to avoid them and soldiers just have to play the hand they are dealt. Remember that the next time you are looking at that cool thing behind the window and can't afford to buy it. At least the Wehrmacht isn't dropping hand grenades on your head.

Next week, we'll visit with a forgotten Western hero from Charlton comics.

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