Bernard Baily, Frank Robbins, Ghost in the Portrait, Jack Oleck, Joe Orlando, one hour to kill, Sheldon Mayer, soldier, time travel, war, Weird War Tales, weird war tales 21, when death took a hand
You can still buy the original Weird War Tales #21 at a decent price if you don’t mind VG to VG+ copies. Printed by DC Comics in the early 1970s, Weird War Tales also makes regular appearances on eBay where you can often score inexpensive lots of several issues at once. The stories blend sci-fi, horror, and fantasy elements into vignettes about war and combat. Pretty much anything goes in these tales as long as there’s a war on!
The first story, One Hour to Kill, gives us a man tasked with traveling back in time to kill Leonardo da Vinci before Leo can establish an early design for guns, thereby eliminating from history all human suffering caused by our propensity to shoot each other with small projectiles at high velocities. It turns out pretty much like every EC Comics story that had a similar idea in the 1950s, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun.
Here are the last three pages, below, where the tale reaches its climax.
Another story, When Death Took a Hand, stood out to us not simply as a worthy ghost story but as an example of a pretty sweet art technique. Look how the spooky ghost soldier is rendered. It looks to us like the inker rendered the black shapes and lines of the ghost, but then drew white lines through it with a white pen. No, that’s not exactly a revolutionary idea to today’s comic book artists, but try digging out any other comic book made in 1974 and finding this cool visual effect.
Credits: Cover art by Luis Dominguez. One Hour to Kill script by Jack Oleck, art by Frank Robbins. When Death Took a Hand script by Sheldon Mayer, art by Bernard Baily. Joe Orlando, editor.
We obtained a handful of vintage Weird War Tales when we bought a friend’s box of 70s and 80s DC Comics back in 2011, and they’ve been fun to read. They had some awesome Alex Nino artwork we dutifully scanned for posterity and learning. This one has one of our favorite covers from the lot, and we have a couple more issues we’ll take a look inside here.