As I surveyed the 41 titles that dealt with the Korean War exclusively I was struck as to how each and every title fit into four categories. There are six titles that introduce a war hero. There are four titles that deal with the air force and mostly jets fighting it out in MiG Alley. There are 20 anthology titles that deal with the Korean War exclusively. Finally there are ten titles that are anthologies that focus on the Marines.
The Korean War heroes are Bill Battle (Fawcett), Buddies in the US Army (Avon), Captain Jet (Farrell), Captain Steve Savage over Korea (Avon) and Combat Casey (Atlas). None of these war heroes has survived the test of time. The two big war heroes in comic books are Sgt. Rock (DC) and Sgt. Fury (Marvel) and both are set in WW II not the Korean War! The Korean War is nestled between our biggest war WW II and our longest war, until Afghanistan, Vietnam and is known as “the forgotten war” and the so maybe it is natural that the Korean War heroes are the forgotten heroes.
In Bill Battle #1 (Fawcett) we find out that Bill is such a nice guy he carries the back packs of other soldiers. Bill Battle’s simplistic characterization is that Bill is a braggart but the GI’s under him notice that Bill has the goods to back up his bragging and that he is a softy underneath it all. The titled lasted four issues. Bill Battle does not have an entry in Wikipedia or Don Markstein’s Toonopedia and probably doesn’t deserve one!
Buddies in the US Army #1 (Avon) explains the basic premise of the comic book. Mike and Jon are buddies that like the same gals so they fight but on the battle field they come together. How many times can you use this gimmick? Apparently about three or four times per issue. There were only two issues so I guess the gimmick wasn’t enough to sustain reader interest. Buddies in the US Army does not have an entry in Wikipedia or Don Markstein’s Toonopedia and probably doesn’t deserve one!
Captain Jet (Farrell) flies jets and that’s all you need to know about Captain Jet. Captain Jet survived five issues. Captain Jet does not have an entry in Wikipedia or Don Markstein’s Toonopedia but did get one in Comic Vine so that’s something!
Captain Steve Savage (Avon) doesn’t have a cool name like Captain Jet but did survive eight issues which is a record for Korean War heroes! In addition while Captain Steve Savage does not have an entry in Wikipedia or Don Markstein’s Toonopedia but did get one in Comic Vine!
Atlas which later becomes Marvel comics has two Korean War heroes. They both have Combat as their first name. There is Combat Casey who has a red beard. There is Combat Kelly who has red hair but not a red beard! That’s all you need to know! Combat Casey lasted 34 issues. Combat Casey does not have an entry in Wikipedia or Don Markstein’s Toonopedia but has entries in Comic Vine and the Marvel Database.
Combat Kelly is the celebrity among the Korean War heroes and has a Wikipedia entry, Comic Vine entry and even a Marvel Database entry, wow! The Korean War version printed in the fifties lasted 44 issues.
The four anthology air force titles that did not have a recurring war hero are Jet Aces (Fiction House), Jet Fighters (Standard), US Fighting Air Force #4 (Superior) and War Birds (Fiction House).
The 20 anthology titles include Attack (Trojan), Battle Attack (Key), Battle Cry (Key), Battle Stories (Super Comics), Battle Stories (Fawcett), Battlefront (Standard), Fighting Man (Farrell), Fighting Undersea Commandos (Avon), Fighting War Stories (Story Comics), GI Joe (Ziff Davis), GI Tales V1 (Atlas), Soldier Comics (Fawcett), US Paratroops (IW), US Paratroops (Avon), US Tank Commandos (Avon), US Tank Commandos (IW), War Fury (Comic Media), War Heroes (Ace), Yanks in Battle (Quality) and Combat (Atlas).
Based on the number of titles, the Marines and the jets more or less fought the North Koreans and Chinese alone! The ten Marine centered titles include Marines at War (Atlas), Marines in Action (Atlas), Fightin’ Marines (St. John), Fighting Leathernecks (Toby), Monty Hall of the US Marines (Toby Press), Tell it to the Marines (Toby Press), Tell It to The Marines (IW), United States Marines (Magazine Enterprises), US Marines in Action (Avon) and With the Marines on the Battlefronts of the World (Toby).