The 400th issue of … everything! My 400th blog!

This is my 400th blog. Not a big deal to people who blog everyday – they would hit 400 by the second month of their second year. My 300th blog was two years ago.

The 400th issue (or any anniversary issue) was a big deal in comic books, too. It’s a chance to celebrate an anniversary with a special issue (and increased sales) featuring the end of an epic story arc – or the beginning of one. It could be the final issue and/or debut – or a new creative team or character.

Note I say “was”. The last #400 was seven years ago; and in this age of reboots and renumberings we may not see another #400 for decades!

Getting to #400 takes time. If published monthly, a comic book would reach its 400th issue in 33 years.

I honestly believed I found all of them – American comics only of course … let me know if I missed any. Enjoy!

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As with my 300th blog, the only golden age comic to reach #400 was 4 Color Comics, from 1952.

4 Color printed several comics per month, sometimes weekly and at times even six per month! #300 was published in 1950, #400 in 1952. One hundred issues in two years…

2592772-fourcolor400

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The Silver Age (roughly 1955 – 1970) had NO 400th issue of any comic!

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The Bronze Age (1970 – 1986) had its share of 400th issues. By this time the most popular comics were reaching their 30+ years of existence … starting with two of the longest-running comics at the time …

Adventure Comics from 1970 – the Legion of Super-Heroes long gone and the comic dedicated to solo Supergirl stories.

Detective Comics also from 1970 with superb art by Neal Adams and this issue featuring the debut of Man-Bat!

The Man of Steel book-ended the Bronze Age with two of his starring comics …

Action Comics was from 1971 and Superman was published in 1984.

The other 400s from DC in the late-Bronze Age were …

Batman (nor surprisingly) from 1986 and Sgt. Rock (not surprisingly to Silver or Bronze Age fans – DC’s war comics were very popular) in 1985.

WDC&SThe only other Bronze Age #400 was not from the Big Two nor was it a superhero comic: It was from 1974 …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The rest of the 400s belong to the Modern Age (or whatever one wishes to call the period(s) after 1986.

Speaking of DUncle scroogeisney, other than WDC&S, only Uncle Scrooge reached #400, not Mickey Mouse, not Donald Duck… Most Disney comics were published by multiple companies over the years, but only Uncle Scrooge kept its numbering intact.

From 2011:

 

 

 

 

 

Only two other publishers (other than DC or Marvel) had comics reaching #400, including one of the longest running series of all time … from 1990.

Big boy

The other was Archie Comics …

Pep from 1985, Laugh from 1987 and Archie from 1992

This was Laugh’s last issue … he who Laugh’s last … and Pep Comics would only have 11 more issues to go before cancellation.

The rest of the 400s belong to Marvel.

Uncanny X-Men – 2001, Thor – 1989, Amazing Spider-Man – 1995, Incredible Hulk – 1992,  Fantastic Four – 1995, Captain America – 1992, Avengers – 1996

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See you at 500!

Special thanks to Lone Star Comics for searching their data base and using their photos!

Michael Curry

 

 

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DC Super-Stars Vol 1 #15, August, 1977

Behold, the Bronze Age!

bronze-age

Cover: Tatjana Wood

“Heap the Corpses High!”

Writer: Robert Kanigher, Penciler: Lee Elias,

Inker: Romeo Tanghal, Colorist: Tatjana Wood, Editor: Paul Levitz

The Nazis developed ICBM missiles that can strike at America. The Unknown Soldier is ordered to find the location of the missiles and eliminate the man in charge.

In Paris, Mlle. Marie believes she executes Hitler! It ended up being a decoy. Chased throughout the city, she is rescued by the Unknown Soldier and both barely escape the city with their lives!

Sgt. Rock and Easy Company are trapped and pummeled by a Nazi unit. Rock saves his men but at great physical cost. Recuperating in a battalion aid field hospital, he is visited by the Unknown Soldier who assures him that Rock will lead Easy Company soon.

Sure enough, Rock walks up to his recuperating Company and moves them out to retake the mountain retreat that nearly slaughtered them. They are again pinned down but saved by a mysterious masked skier who attacks the Nazis from the rear. It is Mlle. Marie!

Rock and Mlle. Marie work their way into a crevasse in the mountain to find the ICBMs aimed at America. Rock and Marie are trapped and saved by … Sgt. Rock of Easy Company?

Surprise! The Rock with Mlle. Marie was actually the Unknown Soldier in disguise! Unable to stop the countdown, the Soldier seemingly gives his life by dropping a string of grenades into the crevasse. Is the Soldier dead? No, Rock and Marie spot him skiing down the mountain.

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This house ad explains it better than I can …

DCSS 15 house ad

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While not the best war comic ever written, this issue is pretty good, if only because it is so long. Most war comics at the time had two or three stories per issue – here was over 30 pages of non-stop action! Kanigher is at his best here – giving us plenty of action but some characterization, too, although in a short-handed way. “B Company got slaughtered, Rock.” “I got eyes.” Rock is both cold and caring. The Unknown Soldier is too. Mlle. Marie seems to be the only passionate fighter in the pack.

The art is excellent. Lee Elias’ spanned the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages – known mainly for his work on the Golden/Silver Age Green Arrow. That being said, every time I open up a DC war comic I am slightly disappointed when the artist is NOT Joe Kubert. But Elias’s style is clean and clear and fits the story – James Sherman and Jack Abel reflect this style.

Rock had met the Unknown Soldier before, and they make an odd team-up. Easy with his combat-happy Joes of Easy Company do not mesh with the espionage of the Unknown Soldier’s world. But Kanigher pulls it off.

This is not the first time Mille. Marie gets short shrift in a team-up book (and when I was a kid reading these stories I thought her name was pronounced “Millie Marie”).

The Brave and the Bold #53 touted three Battle Stars: Sgt. Rock, Johnny Cloud, & The Haunted Tank (its crew obviously counted as one star…) also had Mlle. Marie. Four stars …

What do you expect in a man’s world?

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Our Army at War #294

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#1

Our Army At War #294

Our_Army_at_War_Vol_1_294

Published monthly, thirty cents, July

Cover artist and Editor: Joe Kubert

            Our Army At War premiered in August of 1952 and lasted 302 issues until February 1977 when the title was changed to Sgt. Rock to reflect the popularity of its main character. Sgt. Rock would last until July 1988 with issue #422.

            Our Army At War is known for its main character, Sgt. Frank Rock of Easy Company. Although a character nicknamed “The Rock” debuted in GI Combat, Sgt. Rock as we know him debuted in this comic in 1959. He was created by Robert Kanigher.

            Easy Company was the unnumbered regiment he commanded. It saw action in every European theater. Easy contained African-American members – an anachronism for more enlightened times. Some members were given nicknames such as Bulldozer (the second-in-command), Wildman, Jackie Johnson, Little Sure Shot, Ice Cream Soldier and Four Eyes.

            Our Army At War also earns its place in comic book history for the first appearance of Enemy Ace in #151 (February 1965) – the flying ace of WWI who proved very popular as an anti-hero.

            But by July 1976 the Enemy Ace feature was gone and Sgt. Rock and Easy Company dominated the comic.

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“A Coffin for Easy”, Robert Kanigher ( w ), F. Redondo (a)

            Easy Company runs out of ammunition and prepares to face a troop of Nazis with bayonets. Monks in a hearse drawn by two horses approach – it is Mlle. Marie and her brother Jules, who bring ammunition in the coffin!

            Mlle. Marie, Rock and Easy fight off the Nazis. Rock reveals their mission – find and destroy the secret oil pipeline in the village of Aix. This is the village in which Mlle. Marie’s brother Jules lives! Her brother is a … er … brother in Aix’s church.

            While searching the church, Rock finds the oil pipeline following an underground river. Jules rings the church bells to warn the villagers to evacuate before Easy detonates the explosions. The Nazis investigate and Jules is killed in the battle.

            Rock, Easy and Mlle. Marie make it to the hills as the pipeline explodes, collapsing the village in the river and killing off the Nazis stationed there. The church bells ring one last time as if to honor Jules’ sacrifice.

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Bob Kanigher’s Gallery of War: “A Pair of Boots”, Robert Kanigher ( w ), Ric Estrada (a).

            Near Warsaw, Pvt. Fritz Vorst Wermacht-is issued boots that are too painful for his feet. He stops to eat and shoos away two cardinals trying to eat his crumbs. He kills a Polish officer and steals his soft leather boots. He tries to assault a village girl and kills her when she tries to run away. He is killed hiding in a farmhouse during a mortar barrage. The two cardinals he shooed away nest in his empty boots (boots, shoos, get it?).

 

 

Take Ten (Letter page): comments for OAAW #289. Walter Green of Wading River, NY (positive), Terry Chadwick of Phoenix, AZ (positive), Wade Sears of Calgary, Alberta (mostly positive, but critical of the lack of Commonwealth soldiers – UK, Canada, Australian, etc. and questioning the accuracy of Nazi tank tactics.), James Parker of Clarksville, TN (negative – questioning the time setting of the story in #289 being only 8 months before the end of the war. The editor explains that the stories depicted are not chronological) and Robert LaChine of Chicago, IL (negative). E. Nelson Bridwell answered the letters.

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

            Images used are copyright their respective holders and and reproduced here under the “fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.