Friday, May 8, 2009

Famous First Fridays: The Unknown Soldier's Series Debut

The Unknown Soldier, created by Bob Kanigher and Joe Kubert, first appeared as a guest character in a Sgt. Rock story (Our Army at War #168, March 1966) and promptly forgotten. Exactly four years later the Unknown Soldier took over the lead spot of Star Spangled War Stories with issue #151. Written and drawn by Kubert in his gritty, realistic, humanistic style, the Unknown Soldier was a smash-hit. He headlined every issue of SSWS from issue 151-204 (November 1976), when the title was re-named for its star and lasted another sixty-four issues before ending with issue #268 (July 1982). For twelve years, "the man no one knows--but-- is known by everyone" used his mastery of disguise (the only give-away to any of his disguises was his incessant need to scratch under his rubber masks) to battle the Nazis, save innocent civilians and Allied spies, and eventually assassinate Adolph Hitler (in his final issue). With top talent like Kubert, Kanigher, Bob Haney, Archie Goodwin, Frank Robbins, David Michelinie, Dick Ayers, Doug Wildey, Dan Spiegle, Jack Sparling, and Gerry Taloac chronicling his adventures, it was no wonder the Unknown Soldier lasted as long as he did.


  1. The last of the great DC war characters, and probably my favorite (although Enemy Ace is right up there, too. AS are the Losers as a group. OK, maybe I shouldn't call him my favorite. However, I can say that the mixture of espionage and war in his stories DID make his Showcase Presents collection my favorite one so far -- and I've purchased all of them that I didn't already have in Archive editions.

    However, if the story in OAAW 168 is the one reprinted early in the SSWS run, I can't say that I ever thought it was really the same character. I think Joe Kubert was just riffing off the name when he came up with the character in SSWS, and I'd give him sole creator credit for the bandaged one.

  2. Thanks for this post captain of groove! I got to give Kubert his props here, just a really fine job, very cinematic, and powerful. This level of work, his influence, and guidance of younger artists, and the large body of work to his credit is why I rank him alongside Kirby, and Buscema as three of my top five favorite artists.



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