“Weird War Tales” makes a strong case for what an anthology comic book should be like: stories that are relaxing, disturbing, inspiring, informative, and entertaining. Unfortunately, some anthology-based stories simply leave you wanting more. This is the case with Darwyn Cooke’s light-hearted assault through Flanders Fields. Drawing upon the opening of John McCrae’s poem, Cooke sets the scene of a reunion of deceased military men (and women) convening for an annual hullabaloo. In his tale filled with the reanimated corpses of Winston Churchill, Hannibal, General Robert E. Lee, Genghis Khan, and more, Cooke makes no apologies in his story, and he shouldn’t have to. The historical figures may not be carrying on exactly as Cooke sets them up here, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if they were.
Steve Pugh delivers the most haunting image of the issue – s single page splash that depicts a skeleton suited for battle standing in a moonlit graveyard. This image is a bridge page between Cooke’s story and the next, but it could easily have been utilized as the cover (or a variant, right?) for this issue.
Ivan Brandon’s “The Hell Above Us,” hits like an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” as a crewman on a submarine finds new hell all his own under the hell of the war rioting around him. Klein’s art is gritty, dark, and precise. The scenes within the submarine feel like a submarine: closed in, dark, and dank. This story is well-suited to the title of “Weird War Tales.”
The issue is rounded out with a story of Private Parker, written by Jan Strnad. Strnad’s dialog and narration sets this tale firmly in World War II, and there is no question about it whatsoever. Gabriel Hardman steps in to draw the story of a young private, wounded in battle and unable to move as he calls upon visions of dinosaurs to help assuage his suffering. Of the three tales, this one hit me the strongest, in part due to Hardman’s artwork and masterful depiction of the dinosaurs and in part due to the fact that Parker dreamed of dinosaurs, much like I did as a young boy.
This collection is an apt follow-up to the tale delivered last week in “Our Army At War.” So far, with these war titles, DC is batting one hundred percent. Both issues have offered up stories I didn’t realize that I wanted to read until I was reading them. I applaud DC for taking the opportunity to set out some war titles for readers during this five-Wednesday month. I do, however, question the lack of “Blackhawk,” or “Sgt. Rock” proper. That is neither here nor there, really, especially when we get an issue as wonderfully eclectic as this one. This issue rises up to the title and delivers. Here’s hoping “Our Fighting Forces” checks in as positively next week.