Monday, 24 June 2019

The Unknown Soldier In: 8,000 To One

In yet another in a long, long line of:
a) Why oh why didn't I buy this great comic at the time and
b) That's funny, I could've sworn I'd done a post about this character already.
So we arrive, and not before time, at the bivouac of The Unknown Soldier, possibly THE most pulpish of comic characters not actually taken from the pulps.
Here's the deal if you were as dumb as I was at the time, and never checked him out:
In the early days of World War II, a young GI is caught in a grenade blast that destroys his face, and kills his older brother.
Refusing to let this slow him down for a second, our unnamed hero becomes both a master of disguise AND the deadliest killer in the US army, taking on the dirty, impossible missions no on else would dare.
But then he is, as he describes himself: 'The man with "suicide" for a middle name.'
Is that genius or what?
The early issues were by Joe Kubert, Bob Haney, Doug Wildey and, slightly less impressively, Jack Sparling, but I want to jump ahead to the real golden era for this strip, when The Soldier had his adventures related by David Michelinie & Gerry Talaoc, a perfect team if ever there was one.
This is their first issue together, and is kind of a reboot, being the first time we ever saw the actual damage our hero sustained to his face, and it's an absolute belter of a mission statement.
The Man No One Knows, But Is Known By Everyone. Here he is:


  1. Great choice Pete - you dig deeper (as I understand the kids say these days).
    Gerry Talaoc is a name you don't hear much these days - I suppose he's easily overlooked when other Filipino artists recruited by DC around the same time included Alfredo Alcala, Nestor Redondo and the mighty Alex Nino (!!!) - but he did good work by any reasonable standard.
    Nice to see some of it again.


    1. Yeah, he's like Steve Gan in that regard, overlooked next to the greats ( the three you mentioned ), but valid, as you say.

  2. I remember that Kubert cover well, but I never warmed up to Gerry Talaoc's art. Didn't know Orlando was editing this comic either. I would have guessed either Kubert or Bob Kanigher helmed all of DC's war titles.

    Gene Poole

  3. Actually, considering it was Orlando, I'm always surprised he didn't stick the word 'Weird' in the title somewhere...

  4. The Unknown Soldier would make an excellent movie, quite possibly a trilogy. I don't understand why Warner Bros doesn't take advantage of more DC properties. I guess they still have a foul taste in their mouths over Jonah Hex.

    Haunted Tank has possibilities also, if they could bend the ghosts towards a horror element.

    Weird War Stories would make a great war-themed "Creepshow". Ah..but what do I know..

    1. These days I would expect something like that as a Netflix series, so who knows? It could happen.

      - Neil

    2. I love the ideaa of a TV show, just because you'd have one actor playing The Soldier in the opening scenes where he receives his mission, then a different guest star every week playing whichever disguise he's in. Actors would line up for that.

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    4. I'd definitely tune in to that.

  5. I have always been a fan of the Unknown Soldier! I've wanted to cosplay as him at DragonCon for some time now but, haven't been able to get the period correct items yet. I will though! This was an issue I've seen the opening panel but, never read the comic. Truly one of the best war comic characters ever created! Also, I agree with the previous poster Haunted Tank would be a great movie! Still hoping you can find that mysterious House of Secrets or Mystery I remember but, can't find! :)

    1. Never seen an Unknown Soldier cosplay, but I bet it'd be cool! You'd have to keep taking the bandages on & off though, wouldn't you?
      Still no luck locating that HOM story sadly, Turbo, and I did try... :)

  6. Neil, I'd bet dollars-to-donuts that a Netflix/online TV show would incredibly blow.

    I'm am old-school Doom Patrol fan. I'm not happy with the action/sitcom theme. Those guys deserved a movie, faithful to the original source material. If Marvel can make films with B to D listers and make them blockbusters, Warner better rattle the dice and take a shot. Wonder Woman was great, but I think Aquaman was a fluke of luck tho well made. I truly think the movie-going public may be tiring of Batman. Think all of us are tired of Supes.

    Bats is eternal, but maybe he could use a hiatus to find a good story & actor.

    Marvel/Disney is probably going to wait a year or two till they find the right creative team/actors to merge X-Men/FF into the MCU.

    Man, at least I hope so.

  7. OK, I'll admit to being taken aback - I kept expecting it to be revealed how Mr Unknown had not really killed the girl, but....he really did!

    Mark me down as another Talaoc fan - saw most of his work in the Phantom Stranger book (where he had the misfortune of following Jim Aparo's run) and the various mystery books. He would've been totally unsuited to superhero titles, I suspect (not that I can back it up with any examples), but the work I did see was fine stuff indeed.

  8. That's just another reason why this was a great run, B, it's full of those kind of 'wait, he didn't just...' moments!

  9. I just picked up a replacement copy of this issue a few months ago. I was all over this run at the time. I absolutely loved DC's war titles, including all of the ones mentioned previously.

    Talaoc has a short but excellent story in Weird War Tales 18, which I recommend very highly.

  10. I'll check that out and maybe post it, thanks GDM.