THE ENEMY ACE ARCHIVES VOL. 2 (DC, 2006; Hardcover)
Collects the Enemy Ace stories from Star Spangled War Stories Nos. 143-145, 147-150, 152, 158, 181-183, 200 (cover dates March, 1969- July, 1976)
Writers: Bob Kanigher and Joe Kubert (#200)
Artists: Joe Kubert, Neal Adams (#144), Russ Heath (#152), and Frank Thorne (#181-183)
The tone of this series changes drastically in these issues. While the heroic portrayal of the “Hammer of Hell”, Baron Hans Von Hammer, was always interesting because he was the enemy of our country, it is even more interesting that the hippie anti-war sentiments crept into a series set during World War I. While those sentiments were very much of the time they don't age well 40 years later in a series set 100 years in the past.
|Artwork by Neal Adams.|
Fortunately those shortcomings are more than made up for with the top shelf artists who grace these pages. The late, legendary Joe Kubert; god among men Neal Adams; the brilliant photo realistic artwork of Russ Heath; and Frank Thorne's cinematic, widescreen “camera angles”. While these guys are all great, there is an overall sense of DC not knowing what to do with the character, hence the on again, off again publication, with the character ultimately becoming relegated to a back up strip.
The Hangman returns in #145. Rather than make this some story about his sister wearing his guise in order to get revenge on Von Hammer we get a return of the man himself. This seems like a missed opportunity to keep the realistic, grounded feel of the series. Also, his black wolf hunting companion in the forest gets less “screen time” this time out. I enjoyed that in the issues collected in Volume 1.
Star Spangled War Stories #148 is a steaming pile of crap. The Hammer of Hell gets a dog. A dog which he takes in his red tri-wing Fokker in dogfights in the air. A dog who falls out of the plane and dies. A dog who a man who has killed dozens of enemies mourns like none other. Just terrible.
|Artwork by Russ Heath.|
There are more than enough stories for a Volume 3, but I seriously doubt that it will ever happen. Maybe I should pick up Showcase Presents Enemy Ace Vol. 1 for further reading.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.
The OCD zone- The covers for Star Spangled War Stories #152, 181-183, and 200 are not included. I guess the collected editions editor who mapped this book out wasn't very good at darts.
DC forgot to include the story from Detective Comics #404, which was published during this time frame. It is included in the Showcase Presents Enemy Ace Vol. 1 black and white phonebook, however.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Foreword by Robert Klein and Michael Uslan (2 pages).
Creator biographies. (2 pages)
Linework and Color restoration rating: 3 out of 5. Things are passable to dreadful, depending on the issue. While there is a discernible attempt to maintain the original color palette, it is done with half-assed lazy “airbrush” gradients which are the result of allowing the computer to fill in the shape rather than doing it “by hand” on computer. Since DC has an aversion to upgrading the restoration on anything, this is as good as it will ever get.
|Whenever I see completely half-assed color restoration like this it makes me think of that Timmy O'Toole episode of The Simpsons, and the half-assed fix that Groundskeeper Willie does.|
Star Spangled War Stories #147 has murky linework reconstruction.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Creamy off white dull matte finish coated stock. This paper is the ultimate, as it looks vintage but feels high end.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5. Smyth sewn binding, six stitches per signature. The book block is rounded along with the casing, allowing this book to lay completely flat as Godzilla intended.