Atomic War 004 (Ace Comics 1953)

 

War comics is a genre of comic books that gained popularity in English-speaking countries following World War II.

Shortly after the birth of the modern comic book in the mid- to late 1930s, comics publishers began including stories of wartime adventures in the multi-genre omnibus titles then popular as a format.

Even prior to the U.S. involvement in World War II after the attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, comic books such as Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941) depicted superheroes fighting Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

Golden Age publisher Quality Comics debuted its title Blackhawk in 1944; the title was published more or less continuously until the mid-1980s.

In the post-World War II era, comic books devoted solely to war stories began appearing and gained popularity in the United States and Canada through the 1950s, the 1960s, and 1970s, i.e. covering the time periods of the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The titles tended to concentrate on US military events, generally in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Most publishers produced anthologies; industry giant DC Comics’ war comics included such long-running titles as All-American Men of War, Our Army at War, Our Fighting Forces, and Star Spangled War Stories.

Another prolific publisher of war comics was Charlton Comics, which produced a wide variety of titles beginning in the 1950s, such as Battlefield Action, Fightin’ Army, and Fightin’ Marines. Quality also began publishing G.I. Combat during this era. Marvel Comics also produced war titles, notably Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.

In contrast to the typical glamorizing approach of most war titles, the EC Comics titles Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales (produced in the early 1950s) depicted the horrors of war realistically and in great detail, exposing what editor Harvey Kurtzman saw as the truth about war without idealizing it.

(The mid-1960s black-and-white comics magazine Blazing Combat, produced by Warren Publishing, was similarly devoted to authentically drawn and researched combat stories with a self-professed anti-war slant.)

Around 1959, several recurring characters began to appear in mainstream comic lines, including Sgt. Rock and The Haunted Tank in the DC line.

These recurring characters began as regular “guests” of anthology titles such as Our Army at War and later graduated to their own titles.

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