Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Kill Me with Wagner!"

According to Amazon, DC is going to publish a hardcover collection of Jack Kirby's 1974-75 run on The Losers from Our Fighting Forces 151-162.

This, of course, makes me extremely happy, and it leaves just a few things from Kirby's fantastic 70s output for DC to reprint (including all the great stuff from First Issue Special, Kobra 1, and a few issues of Sandman--though I wonder if DC can reprint the two issues of Justice, Inc. Kirby did, since that is a licensed property. There are also the two magazines he did for National: In the Days of the Mob and The Spirit World.).

Of Kirby's 70s DC work, The Losers probably gets the least attention. Kirby did this series while he was doing Kamandi and OMAC, his most famous post-Fourth World work. But the war stories that Kirby did in this year-long run are real gems.

As with his other work from the period, Kirby uses a text page in the first issue as a mission statement for his run. I think "varmints of the vicarious" should be the new name for this blog.

Kirby claims he will be showing the war from the experience of the normal soldier, or "everyman," and he uses his own authority as a WWII vet to back it up. And he says something about my Aunt Jenny that I don't quite understand. And I love this part:
"Follow me, dum-dums, and you'll have a whale of a time, not getting hurt. If you think this is the old sarge bit, forget it. I never made it past PFC. I merely like a good war book, too,--and, something in it which goes beyond paper mache bravado."

I know I always have a whale of a time not getting hurt.

So, what does Kirby give us in this foray into realistic war comics?:

"Kill Me with Wagner"!

In Kirby's story, the Losers are sent into France to work with the French Underground--or Maquis, as Kirby so educationally informs us--to rescue famed pianist Emma Klein. The only catch: no one knows what she looks like.

Meanwhile, Gunner of the Losers is captured by the Germans, and he is taken to a Wagner-loving Nazi major (which is a bit redundant, I guess), who also happens to be looking for Miss Klein. In order to expedite his search, the major has Gunner pick the pianist out of a line-up, or he will start executing hostages:
Unfortunately for the major, the Losers arrive before any executions start, and the hostages join in by kicking some Nazi ass:
Sarge's critique is hard to dispute.

In the end, Emma Klein turns out to be the major's silent maid, who was under his nose the whole time:

She decides to send him to heaven before sending him to hell by playing "Ride of the Valkyries" as the Allies bomb the crap out of the Nazis in awesome Kirby style: That's right--I got yer dammerung right here!



The Film Doctor said...

I wonder if Francis Ford Coppola was thinking of Kill Me with Wagner when he made his helicopter attack scene in Apocalypse Now.

Chris Sims said...

I can't believe I didn't know Kirby did the Losers until you told me. That omnibus is going to rule.

Dr. K said...

And thus, your education is complete, my friend.

Anonymous said...

I would really like to see a couple of omnibus volumes of Kamandi reprinting Kirby's run. I know DC is publishing them in the Masterworks format, but that's $50 for 10 issues--and I prefer the non-glossy paper of the Kirby omnibi.

I've never read Kirby's Losers run, so I'm very much looking forward to that.

Anonymous said...

What I'd like to see is the unpublished magazine work Kirby did for DC- the second issue of "Days of the Mob", "True Divorce" and the probably appalling "Soul Love". Does Chris know about "Toxl- the World Killer" and that astrological strip in "Weird Mystery"? He'll need a new word for "awesome" after "Toxl"...