Comic of the month: Blazing Combat | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Comic of the month: Blazing Combat

Archie Goodwin and various artists (Fantagraphics)

It's interesting to read previously banned literature and it's even more satisfying when the material is an outstanding representation of a medium's potential. Blazing Combat is a new hardcover book that collects the entire short-lived 1960s anti-war comic of the same name. The black-and-white comics were originally published by Warren Publishing in 1965-66, before American popular sentiment turned against the war efforts in Vietnam. Sadly, very few of the four published issues reached the public; they were quickly pulled from newsstands and rejected by wholesalers. The issues, each containing several short war stories, ranging from the War of Independence to the Vietnam War, were written almost entirely by Archie Goodwin and illustrated by master cartoonists like Alex Toth, Joe Orlando, Gene Colan and Wally Wood. Much like the controversial EC Comics of the '50s, each story uses shock endings and raw character emotion to evoke reaction. The creators slipped in political and social opinions on unpopular topics like racism, sexism, government oppression or, in the case of Blazing Combat, the futility of war. Each panel is a stunning work of art, beautifully preserved on heavy paper. Just as relevant as when they were first published, the stories should still draw an emotional reaction.

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