Bomb Run – 1950s-era war comics filled with intense ironic twists and surprise endings

Part of Fantagraphics’ fabulous EC Library series, collecting and beautifully-presenting the best of Max and William Gaines’ EC Comics, Bomb Run collects the 50s-era war comics of Kurtzman and Severin.

Harvey Kurtzman penned the stories, John Severin drew them, and Will Elder did the inking. If you’re a fan of Mad magazine, you will likely recognize all three of those names.

Originally appearing in Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat in the early 50s, the comics in this collection were rather radical for their time. Even though they were war stories, created to appeal to a male, action-oriented audience, nearly every tale explores some tragic dimension of armed conflict. These are not romanticized, boyish ideals of war, but stories that unflinchingly look at the human costs of conflict. Nearly every story is drawn taught (both literally and figuratively), with lots of intense psychological and ironic twists and surprise endings. Some of these comics reminded me of the morality tales (and shocking endings) also found in Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone.

John Severin was a master at drawing in a very meticulous, detailed and old-school style, with beautiful depth and texture added in Elder’s ink-work. Severin was also known as being a stickler for historical accuracy, something that will be greatly appreciated by modern readers interested in history and historical wargaming.

The stories are told in front of warfare backdrops from the Roman Empire to the American Revolution, the two World Wars to the Korean conflict. There are 32 strips in all, along with biographical essays on Kurtzman, Severin, Elder, Bill Gaines and others associated with EC’s war comics.

Bomb Run

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