I picked this up a few years ago when I went on a buying spree, trying to get everything artist Gray Morrow did for DC Comics. Re-reading it now, I'm shocked at the amount of talent in all of these stories. Paul Chadwick writes & draws a touching Superman story; Dave Gibbons writes and Gray Morrow draws a Batman story, as told by the Batcave; there's a Wonder Woman story written and gorgeously illustrated by Eric Shanower; the Flash & Green Lantern star in a story by then-Flash scribe Bill Loebs and drawn by a couple other favorites of mine, Colleen Doran & Ty Templeton, who, together, make a fantastic team; and the only Deadman story I've ever really liked, by Alan Brennert & Dick Giordano. This story is notable for Deadman's encounter with a thinly veiled Earth-1 Supergirl, who perished/ceased to exist in the Crisis on Infinite Earths 4 years prior to this story - appearances by parallel universe/non-existent characters were a company policy no-no, at the time. Not sure how this 'snuck' through editorial, but I guess if the Vice President of the company (Giordano) is also the story artist, you'd let something like this slide.
Also included in this issue, is a short story by writer/penciler John Byrne & inker Andy Kubert starring none other than the 'Hammer of Hell,' Hans von Hammer, World War I German flying ace. I thought a look at this story would help ease the transition away from The Balloon Buster for a couple of posts.
Considering the number of characters John Byrne has written and drawn for DC, it is a little surprising that this might be his only work on this long-established property. The story, called 'Silent Night' is well executed and provides a little insight into the nobility of a character that in strict geographical terms, was a true Enemy Ace. Byrne chose to tell this story entirely in pictures - there are no word balloons.
A Red Cross hospital, low on supplies in the dead of winter, is filled with wounded Allied soldiers. Though the situation is desperate, the soldiers are tended by a buoyant, pretty nurse. Everyone is stopped in their tracks when they hear the sound of an approaching aircraft.
|Effective, wordless panel - The Enemy Ace approaches|
|For a moment - awkward|
|Dancing with the Enemy|
A wordless story can be an interesting experiment if done well, and this story is just that - it certainly captures the conflicted nobility of Von Hammer - a trait the character's had since his earliest appearances. If anything it was nice to see the name Kubert attached to an Enemy Ace story again - there are panels where Andy Kubert's inks on John Byrne's pencils evoke the style of Von Hammer co-creator, and Andy's daddy, Joe Kubert.