Column: The Art of War – Both DC and Marvel Did a Comic in the 70’s Involving Supernatural Themes During War

In 1971, DC Comics created one of the most unique and interesting war comics in history. It was called, Weird War Tales. The comic became so popular that it ran from 1971-1983 for 124 issues. For many years, The Comics Code Authority censored the use of monsters and the undead in mainstream comics. In the early 1970’s the restrictions were relaxed. Weird War Tales placed a huge emphasis on the horrors of war. Each issue was hosted by a character called, “Death.”

He was a skeleton who introduced each story and wore a different military uniform each issue. The war stories were much different than other war comics. They featured robot soldiers, ghosts, zombies and other paranormal characters from different eras of time. These comics are still very popular today and sell for large amounts of money. They are very difficult to find in good condition. TV shows like The Walking Dead have recreated great interest in DC’s Weird War Tales.

Not to be outdone, Marvel Comics also had a similar type of war book. The two covers below show how the comic, called War is Hell, changed over a few short issues. It started out as a typical war comic of older reprints from other books. The comic was published by Marvel from 1973-1975. The first six issues were reprints and two of them were actually Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos reprints. Issue #9 featured all new material.

This comic was very, very, strange. A Polish American man named John Kowalski, gets killed in the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. Throughout the War is Hell comic, he is forced by a character named Death to die countless times for other lives. Kowalski inhabits the bodies of different people who are about to die in combat. He was forced to do this as a penance for his past acts.  becomes an aspect of “Death” itself. In the strange world of comics, Kowalski becomes involved in the future with the deaths of Dr. Strange and Man-Thing. Their deaths are later undone. In my opinion, I never liked this comic because it was too strange. It only lasted 15 issues.

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