Wednesday, February 18, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Star Spangled War Stories #144

Star Spangled War Stories #144 (On Sale: February 18, 1969) has a cover Joe Kubert.

Enemy Ace stars in "Death Takes No Holiday" by Robert Kanigher, Neal Adams and Joe Kubert. Alex Toth had asked to do an Enemy Ace story and Joe Kubert, being under the gun with his new editor duties on top of his existing artist duties readily agreed. Now Alex Toth had a reputation for taking liberties with scripts, so when Kubert gave Toth the Kanigher script, he instructed Toth not to change the story, which Kubert had already read and edited.

However, Alex Toth being Alex Toth, when Kubert got the artwork, it bore little resemblance to the Kanigher script. In Bill Schelly's Kubert biography "Man of Rock" Kubert says he told Toth: "...beautiful story, but it's not the one that Bob wrote...I will not publish it." This caused a rift in the friendship Kubert and Toth had developed over the years. I have seen versions of this cover where the box in the lower right corner read "Special Issue Story Illustrated by Alex Toth."

As for the Alex Toth Enemy Ace artwork, it was destroyed by water damage after Toth kept it in the trunk of his car for months.

Like last month's Teen Titans book, this is another case where Neal Adams came in and saved an editor's butt. Also according to "Man of Rock", Adams offered to help Joe out saying "It would be a great honor for me if you would allow me to pencil this book. You have a very, very tight deadline, you have other stuff to do (and) my schedule is not bad." After seeing the finished result, Kubert said of Adams' work here "It was like somebody had crawled into my mind."

Thanks to Steve Rowe and Sharon for helping me out on this one. It really helps to have readers who know their comics! Reprinted in Sgt. Rock #14, Enemy Ace Archives Vol. 2 HC and Showcase Presents: Enemy Ace Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

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