Military Madness (1944)

Story presented in this entry:
Military Comics #28 (April 1944) - Death Patrol (Story and art by Jack Cole)

Here is a delightful little gem from Jack Cole's second run on the Death Patrol series he created in 1941. Note the continued use of the theme of face-changing and identity shifting (see the earlier entry in this blog, 'The Eel-Like Slipperiness of Indentity") with the Japanese woman disguised in make-up. When she kisses a man, her false face transfers to his... so two people are altered, with one kiss.

One big difference between 1941 Cole and 1944 Cole is well-displayed here: sex has entered the scene.

The pace flies by and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt appears as a character. It's as though Cole wrote an 8-page story and eliminated every other panel to get it down to four pages. Enjoy!












4 comments:

  1. These two DEATH PATROL stories show how fast Cole matured as a comix storyteller in a very short amount of time. The first story is very much of his breathless, can't-tell-the-story-fast-enough feel of 1939-1941. The second one, while equally break-neck in its pace, has a firmer command of comix vocabulary, and more assurance in its telling.

    What must Cole's colleagues have thought of this rapid advance in his work? It must have been a bit intimidating for some of the less talented folks at Quality Comics. I always feel sorry for Vernon Henkel, et al, when I see their third-rate work in the same magazine as Cole's comix.

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  2. Vernon Henkel "third rate?" That might a bit harsh (though he's obviously no where near Cole) but I definitely see what you're saying.

    What I love about this 4 pager is the surprising amount of inventive storytelling in such a small space. The eyes in the "binocular" panel on Page One, the sudden dive-bomb plunge on Page Two, and most notably, the doubly transformative kiss on the last page, along with a lot of interesting perspectives, etc.

    Perhaps best of all is the splash panel, I think. The splash was once a great storytelling tool, neither cover, nor narrative panel, but something sort of in-between that visually conveys the info to set the scene for each story. Eisner was masterful at it on the Spirit sections. It's a lost art today (and not many even got it right back then).

    Thanks so much for this great site. Looking forward to more.

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  3. Frank and Tamfos... THANK YOU for your great comments. I love it that there can be a serious and well-considered discussion of Cole's work.

    Frank makes a great point about Cole's growth between his two tours of duty on the Death Patrol. I sometimes think that, like Robert Johnson, Cole may have sold his soul to Satan in exchange for an inexplicably speedy mastery of his art form.

    I also like what Tamfos has to say about the inventiveness of Cole's splash pages, and how well they draw you into the story. There's a future blog entry I have in mind that will look at Cole's splashes in some detail.

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  4. Cole's Death Patrol comics have a unique feel among his Quality work. They have neither the sharp focus of his 1-pagers (which deserve their own collection...I can dream!) nor the sprawling, epic comedy of his longer stories. But they are still a blast--if very much, ahem, period pieces! Thanks for posting!

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