Monday, May 27, 2013

Two-Fisted Tales #29

Cover by Harvey Kurtzman
Cover dated September/October 1952

"Korea!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Red Knight!" - Art by John Severin/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Washington!" - Art by John Severin and Bill Elder/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Fire Mission!" - Art by Dave Berg/Story by Harvey Kurtzman

"Korea!" - This story takes place in Korea. While hiding out behind a jeep, playing dice, American soldiers are shot upon by the Koreans and several are killed. The Koreans steal their jeep, but two of them get in another jeep and head after them. One of the soldiers in particular is obsessed with getting revenge for the death of his friends. They are able to shoot down the jeep and follow the soldiers, killing one and taking the last hostage. They bring their wounded prisoner to the field hospital and he is taken away. One of the soldiers thinks of how easy it is to kill a man in combat and that they should remember how each and every life is important. A rather fast paced story. I was expecting some sort of twist in the end, with perhaps the prisoner turning on the men, but it ended in somewhat different fashion.

"Red Knight!" - This story is about the German World War I ace Baron  Manfred Von Richthofen. At the start of the story, his plane is seen coming down over France. Over the next 5 pages we are shown various victories of him, and how he writes a letter each time requesting acknowledgment of his latest kill. Richthofen eventually records a record 80 kills. As the story ends his plane comes down to the ground and he is found inside, dead. Another of many World War I stories featuring ace plane pilots, this one is slightly more interesting than usual.

"Washington!" - This story features George Washington in one of his earliest battles, in Manhattan in 1776. British ships come up the East River, further than the troops expected. The Militia men quickly get scared and start running away. Seeing this, Washington angrily  tries to get them to stay, ordering them, swearing at them and even trying to shoot at them. He is unsuccessful and left completely alone. An interesting and unique story, showing a side to George Washington that you wouldn't expect to be seen, with him being quite a failure as a commander. It was stories like this that made EC's war comics unique from others, which would be unlikely to show the  first president in such an unflattering light.

"Fire Mission!" - This story features a mortar crew that are stationed within a small trench while their sergeant receives orders from out front. Enemy soldiers push near them and several of the men are killed. One of the men including the sergeant are shot and another runs out, not worrying about what will happen and gets killed as well. One of the soldiers is really scared, but runs out to observe the enemy, and is successful as the mortar crew is able to take the enemy soldiers out. The soldier admits that he headed out to show that he wasn't scared and one of the older soldiers tells him that on the battlefield everyone is scared. Berg's sole art job for EC during the New Trend; he later would become a prolific artist for Mad magazine. His artwork is a bit more cartoonish than the typical EC war comic story, so its easy to see why this was his sole appearance.

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