DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL
Our Fighting Forces #168
Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August
Cover artist: Luis Dominguez
Editor: Murray Boltinoff
Our Fighting Forces ran for 181 issues from October 1951 until September of 1978, a victim of the DC Explosion/Implosion. In the previous year of this Bicentennial issue (1975), Jack Kirby left the magazine after eleven issues.
It was a typical war anthology in the 1950s and by the 1960s featured specific characters or “stars”, including Gunner and Sarge, Lt. Hunter’s Hellcats and the Fighting Devil Dog Lt. Larry Rock (Sgt. Rock’s brother). The Losers became the star feature in January of 1970 with issue #123.
The Losers were four DC Comics war heroes from other defunct series or cancelled magazines: Capt. Storm (Navy) from his own series Capt. Storm which lasted 18 issues, Johnny Cloud (Army Air Corps) from All-American Men of War, and Gunner & Sarge (“Mud”-Marines) who also appeared in All-American Men of War and earlier issues of Our Fighting Forces.
The Losers “formed” in GI Combat #138 (October 1969) as POWs rescued by the crew of the Haunted Tank – the lead feature of GI Combat. DC (National) kept them together in best “Dirty Dozen” fashion as a strike force or task force with each issue a special mission (somewhere in between the straight-forward military adventures of Sgt. Rock/the Haunted Tank and the espionage/saboteur tales of the Unknown Soldier). In between they resumed their duties in their individual branches as back-up solo stories.
The Losers were killed off during the Crisis on Infinite Earth … twice: once by the Anti-Monitor’s troops and again, the publisher’s blood lust still unsatisfied, Losers Special #1 by the Nazis. They were brought back briefly in the year 2000 as part of the Creature Commandoes. Don’t ask…
“A Cold Day to Die”, Robert (this issue called “Bob”) Kanigher ( w ), George Evans (a)
In Norway, the Losers are captured and will be hung if they do not reveal their mission. Their accomplice, sometimes Loser Ona Tomsen, a leader of the Norwegian underground, will hang with them!
Flashback to the beginning – the Losers parachute into Norway fighting off Nazis shooting at them as they land. Gunner is hit. Ona takes them to the plant that they are ordered to destroy – a plant making “heavy water” used in atomic bomb research.
They plant the explosives but are captured and walked to the gallows. Captain Storm asks for one last cigarette and detonates the explosives with a devise in his wooden leg. The Losers escape the Nazis and rescued by the underground.
Navaho Ace Johnny Cloud in “Death Knocks 5 Times”, Ex-Lt. Bart Regan ( w ), ER Cruz (a)
One kill shy from making Ace, Ben lands his fighter while Johnny Cloud waits. Cloud finds Ben dead in his ship – even dead he brought it down safely.
The base is strafed by Nazis, Cloud takes Ben’s plane up with Ben still in it and dispatches the Nazi. Lying in wait in the clouds is Ben’s real killer! The Nazi shoot Ben’s plane and Cloud jumps for safety. The Nazi is about to kill the parachuting Cloud when Ben’s plane, with Ben still clutching the stick in a death grip, collides with the Nazi. His fifth kill. Ben made ace after all…
Mail Call: Jack C. Harris answered the letters of … Eric Ehrlich of North Platte, NE (positive, but spotted a few gaffes), Edward Wojcik of Detroit, Michigan asked for the return of Gunner and Sarge’s dog Pooch (and we were so promised) as well as other unused DC battle stars to join the Losers), and Teddy Arnold of Houston TX asks for a Losers/Blackhawk team-up. The last paragraph is a plug for GI Combat.
The Losers were brought back as a gritty modern commando group for 32 issues in the 2000s.
Remember the movie they made based on the comic? Neither do I…
Was the Bicentennial numbering of Our Fighting Forces (unlucky 13) intentional? Doubtful, it seems DC didn’t put much thought into this Bicentennial promotion (going back to the Superman #300 or Star-Spangled War Stories #200 potential…). Too bad. Can you imagine the reaction of this self-deprecating group of characters? “Leave it to the Losers to be Bicentennial Banner #13…”
Join me for my next review of one of my favorite comic series: DC’s Bicentennial issue #14: Weird War Tales #47
Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry
Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.