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Men of War #1 gives us the first half of the origin of Gravedigger in his first appearance in DC Comics. Author David Michelinie would conclude next issue with a tale of Gravedigger’s breaking into a military installation, an unlikely story that plays well as a comic book nevertheless. Gravedigger earns his nickname digging graves in a non-combat unit. He wants to fight in the war, but the color of his skin gets him assigned to an all-black non-combat unit.

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While films and novels have dealt with racism in the military before, Michelinie sticks to a theme of institutional racism. We do not see Gravedigger suffer from physical and verbal abuse, but we do see him confronting a racist system. Artists Ed Davis and Romeo Tanghal deliver a realistic style in the vein of DC’s other 1970s war comics like Sgt. Rock. Let’s have a look!

Collector’s Guide: Men of War #1; DC, 1977.