Covered 365: Day 196

Our Army At War #196, DC Comics, August 1968. Artist: Joe Kubert.

Did Joe Kubert gives us a powerful political message with his cover to Our Army at War #196? In the fall of 1968 the United States was convulsing with social and political strife. The anti-Vietnam War protests were growing in size and in violence. Am I over reading it when I see an anti-Vietnam War message on this World War II cover?

Covers are allowed to be poster art and Avengers #196 is payday for accepting this, great cover from George Perez.

I’ll add a cover that made me laugh the moment I saw it, Pep Comics #196 has a great sight gag punchline that touched a nerve with me because it reminded me of my buddy’s dad, who’s in his 80s. I think Archie had his shorts up just a bit higher, but not by much.

I always likes Daredevil #196 because that cover sold that book out of my otherwise dead Daredevil bins.

A great comic book cover matching each day of the year, 1 through 365. Please chime in with your favourite corresponding cover, from any era.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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Robin Easterbrook
Robin Easterbrook
4 years ago

I don’t think you’re over reading this cover Walter. This was just touching on the beginnings of DC’s social relevance period and it was well into the disenchantment with the Vietnam War. At this point in the ’60s even popular TV shows like Combat were struggling with the anti-war sentiment (and the budgetary restraints of changing to colour). I obviously can’t speak to Mr. Kubert’s intentions but I think this was very much an effort to attract the dis-affected reader of war comics. The whole War is Hell thing. As an aside, they may not all be cover of the day, but Joe Kubert is another artist that I would be hard pressed to find a bad cover from.

Bud Plant
Bud Plant
4 years ago

Aside from what Harvey Kurtzman did in Two-Fisted and Frontline, more than ten years earlier, anything like this cover was pretty scarce when Kubert did this. I think Charlton was also doing some pioneering anti-war stuff around this, with the up-and-coming new generation of artists, plus Giordano probably encouraging them as editor. Most of the DC staff at that point had grown up during WWII, including Kubert.

Blazing Combat came and went before this appeared, in ‘65-66, but as most readers know, that story is that Military PX’s and perhaps the distributors serving the military, wouldn’t put them out. Four issues, one and done, but what a brilliant run, thanks to editor Archie Goodwin.

So this is pretty mature stuff for conventional comics. And Kubert keeps it safely non-specific, especially knowing Rock is still locked in WWII. And finally, yeah, man could Joe draw, what drama!

The jingoism and enthusiasm for war in the fifties (think all those crazy covers by Norman Saunders on the first GI Joe run from Ziff-Davis, all the pre-code Atlas titles like Combat Kelly and Combat Casey, even DC’s runs. There was so much making war seem attractive to kids in the fifties and even sixties. I was a big Sgt. Rock fan and actually subscribed to it, just before I discovered Marvel in early 1964. I was 11 years old. Among of the very, very earliest comics I bought myself, in 1961, were G.I. Combat and Our Army at War.

The Korean War might have begun to wake people up to the dark side of war, but it was hard to overcome the enthusiasm for the rightness of fighting when so many remembered “the good war,” WWII. My own parents met on a troop ship going to North Africa, pre-invasion, in 1942…they married in Cairo, Egypt, in 1943. They were both 1st Lieutenants. Signal Corp and Army Nurse Corp. So my family only happened because of the war, my folks were from opposite ends of the country and would never have met otherwise.

I was lucky…my student deferment during Viet Nam kept me out until things were winding down. I got a high number the last year of the draft. But my best friend was really scared he was going in until the draft stopped short of his number. Moving to Canada was a very real option for jim.

From our San Jose comics group, one of my closest friends, just a couple years older than me got drafted, became a Sargent, and got hit twice with shrapnel working “point” on patrols (that meant he was the guy looking for booby traps and the enemy). Got his discharge after the second time. Another buddy was the publisher of the fanzine Weirdom, where Richard Corben first appeared. He enlisted in the Navy just to stay out of the fighting. He was already a stoner, so this was way out of character but considered a good move at the time.

I apologize for going on at length here, but this might put things in more perspective if you didn’t live through those times…

Chris Meli
4 years ago

Maybe people would buy that Daredevil because they didn’t want to buy Daredevil in the first place. I think the art is too crude and of course it is standing around etc.

I don’t see a standout for #197 like there was for #196. The family is still participating so the consensus is Flash. To the initiated I think the old “secret identity discovery” theme is tiresome, but otherwise this cover has a lot going for it – action, original composition, light vs. shadow, zero visual confusion.

I have to admit that on my own I probably would have gone with Kid Colt as this exercise has me loving most things Kane. A shame that such work wrapped some old reprints, but I guess the day of the Western was already done.

Batman is obviously a classic. House of Mystery is a good Adams cover but I hesitate to say “great” – it’s not clear what’s going on and the cover is fairly muddled. Thor is a fabulous if standard sock-’em.

No JOWA stood out for me but if you thought Captain America #193 was phoned in, #197 came by smoke signal. I would be proud to hang the original art for #193 on my wall, but I think #197 would stay in the folio for future sale.

Dave Mackay
Dave Mackay
4 years ago

I love your commentary Bud. Thanks for sharing.
Jack Kirby had one of the first anti war books I recall. Foxhole #1 published 1954 or also known as The guys in a foxhole.

Issues 1 and 3 are awesome images that support a veteran’s concern of war and suggest all isn’t as it seems.

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Kirby went over seas and fought.” When Kirby joined the army, his reputation as the co-creator of Captain America preceded him—but this talent didn’t get him a cushy job, like many luckier writers and artists. Rather, Kirby ended up serving as a scout, a thankless job that involved sneaking into enemy territory and drawing what he saw to help prepare future missions. This was extremely dangerous. As Kirby put it, “If somebody wants to kill you, they make you a scout.” Before setting off for duty, the auteur cranked out an increased flow of comics, stating that he wanted “to get enough work backlogged that I could go into the Army, kill Hitler, and get back before the readers missed us.” ”

Gotta love Kirby

Dave Mackay
Dave Mackay
4 years ago

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Take a look at foxhole # 4 unused cover as comic code wouldn’t approve…horrifying and beautiful Kirby. He was a genius

Dave Mackay
Dave Mackay
4 years ago

Its funny Bud…
Grand Dad served in WW1 and then joined again in WW11. He loved the army. He was in every famed battle in WW1.
Dad joined in 1942 and was a tanker. Loved it and his brother also joined. Uncle Art served and retired from Army in the 1970’s.
They all spoke wistfully but respectfully of their War experiences. They all loved John Wayne movies, but didn’t respect him, as he hadn’t served.
I wanted to join the army naturally. Dad didn’t approve. Further he said, if Canada ever gets involved in a “Vietnam”, his instructions were… live in a cabin in the woods in the north, till the clash was over. Strange days indeed.