Sunday, August 07, 2005

Comic Book PSA: Luck Is A Puppy Named...Oops!

Luck Is A Puppy Named SchatziFrom Star Spangled War Stories #148 comes this tear-jerker written by Robert Khaniger & penciled & inked by Joe Kubert. Starring the popular WW1 flyer Enemy Ace aka Baron Hans von Hammer aka The Hammer of Hell, this tale is about a cute puppy. Oh, and horrible death in war.

In the process of landing his Fokker, the Baron accidentally runs over a stray dog. Saddened by the dog's injuries, the Hammer of Hell (nee Heaven) takes pity on the poor creature, names it Schatzi and bandages up it's little injured paw.

As one can guess from the story title, Schatzi is destined for reprint fame later in a 1970's DC digest of favorite stories. The cover is a bit of a tease, because comic book covers usually pull a bait-and-switch on readers in regards to content. Not this time...war is hell, y'know.

Exercising the inbred wisdom that made some Europeans worthy of being appointed as nobility, the Baron tucks Schatzi into his jacket and flies off into combat. During maneuvers, the Baron does a barrel roll. Inevitably, not having secured the puppy with a belt, it tumbles out of the cockpit and out into space. Sigh.

Overcome with grief and despairing the loss of innocent life, the Baron flips out and shoots six enemy planes out of the sky.

That'll teach them about the senselessness of war! After the battle, the Baron searches the countryside until he finds his pet. As the bodies of enemy pilots burn in the smouldering wreckage of nearby crashed planes, he gives Schatzi a proper burial.

Many people claim SSWS #148 is is one of their favorite stories, but I didn't care for it because it was sappy and manipulative. In the Hammer's pained and troubled life Schatzi obviously represents hope, which he clung to desperately, only to have his chance for redemption slip literally through his hands. No one ever accused DC of being subtle.

Of course, being drawn by Joe Kubert it is automatically better than pretty much anything else being produced by anyone that month.

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