G-8 and His Battle Aces #1A column article, Cheap Thrills by: Daniel Elkin
G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES #1
Publisher: Blazing Comics(part of Argosy Communications)
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Sam Glanzman
HOLD THE RUMPUS, YOU TWO.
Do you remember twenty years ago? 1991? It was the year the Soviet Union collapsed and we fought the first Gulf War (bringing the words "Scud"and "Sortiee"into the national lexicon).
The Dow Jones closed above 3,000 for the first time ever, Mike Tyson was arrested for rape, Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested for murder, the Minnesota Twins won the World Series, and "The Perfect Storm"ripped up the northeastern United States.
Remember 1991? The Super Nintendo was released; as was Nirvana's Nevermind (which I still think is somehow more than coincidental). 1991 also saw the deaths of Serge Gainsbourg, Doc Pomus, Klaus Kinski, Freddie Mercury and Dr. Seuss.
In 1991 the average cost of a new home was $120,000, the average US citizen's annual income was $29,430, the average US rent was $495 and a gallon of gas cost $1.12.
1991 also saw Blazing Comics release the Chuck Dixon/Sam Glanzman atrocity, G-8 and his Battle Aces #1, and a little bit of us all died because of it.
G-8 and his Battle Aces was apparently based on characters which appeared in the novel The Green Scourge of the Sky Raiders by Robert Hogan, which itself was originally published in the May 1940 issue of G-8 and his Battle Aces Magazine. I know this because the front flap of the comic tells me this. How an entire novel was published in the pages of a pulp magazine is a concept I am having difficulty wrapping my head around, but I accept it as a matter of faith because I am convinced that Chuck Dixon would never lie to me.
I must warn you up front that in the opinion of this humble reviewer, the front flap of this comic is its high point.
You have been forewarned.
Now, let us continue. I will try to make this as quick and as painless an operation as possible.
The comic opens with a picture of some British bi-planes and a text box stating, "They call it the Great War."From this, I am able to quickly gather that we've got ourselves a comic book based on the World War I British Air Force. This makes me nervous, as I have a fear of heights.
We are quickly introduced to the titular character, G-8,
a dashing fellow if there ever was one. Through his thought bubbles we learn that his companions in the sky are named Bull and Nippy and that the three of them are searching for Herr Doktor Krueger's secret laboratory.
Suddenly, G-8 sees Nippy pointing "at something … coming down at (them) from the clouds…"
It's Kyle of the 4th Air Corps, and he seems to have misplaced his plane somewhere in the skies.
His plane, actually, is right behind him and it takes Nippy and Bull some poorly rendered stunt flying to evade it.
G-8 is confused how Kyle and his plane parted company, but before he can find out, six "Fokkers"attack them (I hate being attacked by Fokkers, that Ben Stiller fellow has a reputation for fighting dirty). But not to worry, dear reader, for G-8, Nippy and Bull make short shrift of the Fokkers in four rather lifeless panels.
Hooray for our heroes.
Low on fuel and ammo after the battle, G-8 and his men have to return to their base and curtail their search for Herr Doktor Krueger.
Speaking of Herr Doktor Krueger, the comic quickly cuts to his lab where he is working on "a device that could change the shape of the world … of reality itself"(hopefully into one that never saw the publication of this comic).
"Himmel!"indeed. I never understood why some writers feel the need to have their foreign speaking characters jump back and forth from their native tongue (in this case German) to English. Are we really that bovine as readers that this conceit is supposed to fool us? Personally, give me all or nothing. Chuck Dixon, I thought you loved us more than this.
So, Herr Doktor Krueger is interrupted by none other than Herr Grun.
As you can see, Grun is green. He is also rather Neanderthal looking. No explanation is provided whatsoever as to why this is, where he comes from or how he got hooked up with the German Army during World War One.
I do kind of like his line here about how, when the "Englanders"are "yanked"out of their planes in mid-air, "they scream like women."This is not enough, however, to redeem this book in any way, shape or form.
Anyway, it turns out Herr Doktor is working on "An Einstein-Edison-Steinmetz machine"which he attaches to "The Kruegler Time Dislocator"to "mold history." But this is not why he has called Grun to his lab. He wants Grun to "take command of the Ball Lightning Cannon Project" which is a gun of some sort that Grun can mount to his plane.
We do get this little bit of characterization, but in the end it only serve to remind us how devoid of anything good the rest of this comic is.
And, of course, this bit goes nowhere and any tension it produces is only left in my dreams of a better book.
I hate this comic.
So, Grun mounts the Ball Lightning Cannon on his plane. He then proceeds to blow up an English plane with it. G-8, our hero, won't let Grun get away with this atrocity (I wish he felt the same way about this comic) and attacks Grun head on.
Grun revs up the Lightning Cannon to blow G-8 out of the sky (and maybe ending this ordeal entirely...please let him kill G-8, please, please), but before he can get off another shot, it blows up in his face and sends him hurtling to the ground on top of another German plane.
Here's a lesson for you, kids: always wear a seatbelt.
The very next panel shows Grun behind bars with a bandage on his head. Chuck Dixon leaves it in the hands of the reader to make up the whole story as to how this happened. Mine involves 17 donkeys, 6 babies drunk on tequila and a flame-thrower.
There is some piquant repartee between Nippy and some guy named "Battle"(who looks like Alfred from the Batman comics – Chuck Dixon can't get the bat out of his blood, I guess) concerning Grun's resemblance to members of Nippy's family. It ends when G-8 tells them to "hold the rumpus."
I am having so much trouble finding anything redeeming about this comic. Grasping at straws, I will say that "Hold the rumpus"will be a term I will probably use again at some point in my life.
Back at the lab of Herr Doktor, Krueger reacts to the news of Grun's capture by appropriately laying blame on everyone but himself.
Herr Doktor orders his minions to attack G-8's aerodome with "heavy nitro bombs" that he has stockpiled in a nearby hanger. During the bombing raid, Grun's prison is destroyed and he climbs over the rubble to freedom, first tossing a rock at Battle.
We're almost done. I promise.
Grun has amnesia (as a result of his head injury?).
He steals a plane.
He shoots down the German planes.
He goes to visit Herr Doktor.
He accidentally goes through the Time Dislocation Terminal (remember, it was the one attached to the Einstein-Steinmetz-Edison Machine) and disappears.
He returns on the next page without amnesia.
Herr Docktor celebrates.
And it ends.
Now for some good news and some bad news.
The bad news first.
This comic is actually a flip book. If you flip it over it also has another comic you can read. This one is also created by the same team who gave us the festering stool of G-8. It is called The Spider's Web starring Web-Man, which features a character based on the character featured in The Web originally published in The Spider Magazine. It is even WORSE than G-8. As a matter of fact, it may be one of the worst things I have ever read in my entire life (and I teach high school English and have read many many many Freshman essays).
The good news is I'm not going to talk about The Spider's Web anymore than I already have. In fact, I will banish it from our collective minds entirely by providing you with this:
I think we all feel a little better now.
So, was G-8 and his Battle Aces #1 worth the fifty cents I paid for it? Only to the extent that I now have in my possession a device useful for no other purpose than punishment of minor infractions on the part of my son or any other person I deem in need of said punishment (speaking of my son, I let him read about four pages of this book-- to give him a taste of its power, I guess-- and his response was "This comic is dumpass"-- truer words have never been spoken).
Somehow, perhaps, there is redemption in our collective suffering.
From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry I pulled this comic this week. Thank you for sticking with me. It is my hope that we won't ever have to do anything like this again.
See you next week.