Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Death in the Wild Blue Yonder
I’m about 75% of the way through my copy of Showcase Presents: Enemy Ace and I must say it’s been one of the best silver/bronze age comics that I have read. Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert (which write and draw, respectively, most of the stories) have really created something special here. Choosing a German pilot and setting the stories in WWI was an inspired choice because it allows the reader to dispense with the usual jingoistic tripe and focus on one man’s hellish struggle to stay alive and sane during combat. The main character, Hans von Hammer, is an allegory to the Red Baron but with a pulpy goodness that only a DC war comic could provide. In some ways his personality is the opposite of another Bronze Age comic character I like, Conan the Barbarian but they both have the same evocative, brooding nature.
There’s just something about WWI air combat that lends itself to great storytelling: the newness of the technology, the sense of dying chivalry, and the aloneness of the expanding sky. The last frontier has been opened and it’s used for bringing death. There’s also the sense of the duel, which recalls both knights defending their honor and an old west shootout like the OK Corral. It was Europe’s chance to play Cowboys and Indians except everybody was a Cowboy.
I have always had a passing interest in WWI aviation history and Showcase Presents: Enemy Ace, has brought that back to me of late. I started looking around the net reading articles about WWI aircraft and people again. While skimming a wikipedia article on Manfred von Richthofen, I noticed that a Red Baron movie is coming out this year. It’s a European production that plays a little loose with the facts but it still looks to be a first-rate film nonetheless. One of the things that stood out is that Lena Headey of Terminator: the Sarah Conner Chronicles fame has a significant role in the film as Nurse Kate. It will be interesting to see her in a softer role after her turn as the hardcore, kick ass mom.
Red Baron Shots:
In a sick sense of simpatico, I had just finished reading an Enemy Ace story of a puppy falling to it’s death when the news story of a marine killing a puppy by throwing off a cliff showed up in the news… scary… and sad…