Have I mentioned that it’s a good time to be a Wally Wood fan? There have been so many great books covering Wood’s life, art, and career in one or more capacities in recent years that a fan could easily fill a bookcase with nothing but wonderful Woodwork!
The latest of these books is Vanguard’s cleverly titled DARE-DEVIL ACES, subtitled “Commandos and Other Sagas of War.” As you might suspect from that title, this is a collection of Wood’s war-related comics stories. Well, most of them anyway. Avoiding repetition, the already widely printed EC’s and the separately published BLAZING COMBAT pieces are instead covered herein via informative text pieces and some original art pages.
The meat of this volume consists of lesser-known material originally published by Charlton, Harvey, Avon, Tower, and even DC Comics. Military comic books flourished throughout the 1950s and into the ‘60s until ant-Vietnam sentiment began driving many of them out of business. Sgt. Rock and Sgt. Fury managed to hang on a bit longer, as did a few under-the-radar Charlton titles, but the boom had ended.
While the boom lasted, though, Woody contributed some typically attractively drawn pieces, some concurrent to his amazing MAD years, and those often uncredited—but easily recognizable—stories are to be found here.
Storywise, most are lacking in comparison to Harvey Kurtzman’s highly researched war/anti-war EC’s but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of Wood’s art, which is really why you’re here. In fact, most of these stories, originally printed on cheap pulp paper (REALLY cheap pulp paper in the case of the Charltons!) have never looked better. The decision to reproduce from the original comics on slick paper goes a long way toward covering up many of the printing flaws of the original comics.
And make no mistake! While some of the examples here might be considered lesser Wood, we’re also treated to The Lone Tiger and Dollar Bill Cash from 1966, considered by many to be some of the artist’s very best work of that decade. And Cannon! Wood’s own paramilitary strip superspy character that ran in the Overseas Weekly for years is represented here by the stories from both issues of Heroes, Inc., done with the great Steve Ditko! Dan Adkins, Maurice Whitman, and Russ Jones are also credited as working with Wood on a number of the pieces at hand.
Available in multiple editions, Dare-Devil Aces is a particularly attractive book and yet another choice addition to that Wallace Wood bookcase from Vanguard Publishing. With more to come, Wood fans might want to start shopping for bigger bookcases!