Sunday, January 13, 2013
TONY’S BACK PAGES: G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES
Doc Savage was my first and favorite pulp hero. I was introduced
to him via a well-read Bantam paperback loaned to me by high school
friend Gary Lunder. By the time Gold Key published Doc Savage #1
[November 1966], I had my own well-read collection of paperbacks,
purchased on nigh-weekly visits to Cleveland’s famed Kay’s Books.
That solitary Gold Key issue featured writer Leo Dorfman and artist
Jack Sparling’s less-than-spectacular adaptation of The Thousand-
A month earlier, Gold Key had published G-8 and His Battle Aces #1
[October 1966]. Though it barely registered on my comics radar at
the time, I got a copy a year later in a trade with another pal.
It was thrown in to sweeten whatever deal we were making.
G-8 was a “brother” to Doc Savage, though I didn’t learn that until
later. Created by Robert J. Hogan, who wrote all 110 of his pulp-
magazine adventures, G-8 was a World War I secret agent and aviator
whose battles against the Kaiser sometimes included science fiction
and supernatural elements. In the 1970s, Berkley Books reprinted
eight of the Hogan novels. Comics legend Jim Steranko painted the
first three covers and that’s when I learned of G-8's pulp origins.
G-8 and His Battle Aces #1 featured “G-8 and the Secret Weapon” by
Dorfman with art by George Evans (pencils) and Mike Peppe (inks).
By Gold Key standards, it was a decidedly grim and gritty thriller.
Master of disguise G-8 goes behind enemy lines and amasses a modest
body count while learning the secret of the terrible mystery weapon
the Germans have unleashed on the allied forces. Though G-8's true
identity is not revealed in this comic book or the pulp magazines,
his wing-men Nippy and Bull are both Americans.
The secret weapon is a zeppelin shaped like an enormous eagle that
drops siren-equipped bombs on our trench-bound soldiers. Dorfman’s
script is good, though the finale, in which G-8 turns the zeppelin
against the enemy, is surprisingly rushed given the 32-page length
of the story. Evans isn’t at his best here, but he does manage
several effective shots of the grim G-8, the battlefields and the
zeppelin. Though my original copy is long gone, I was delighted to
buy a replacement on eBay for a reasonable seven bucks. This one’s
“Tony’s Back Pages” - though my CBG editors shorted it to “Tony’s
Back Page” - was many things during its long run in CBG. Sometimes
I shared tales of my life as a comics fan and comics professional.
Sometimes I wrote about other things, always limited by the 300-400
word count of the feature.
In the run-up to the publication of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read,
it presented previews of entries in that book. Once the book was
published, it switched over to extended versions of entries in the
book. After a couple years of that, it settled into what you just
read: quick looks at old comic books I found interesting enough to
With CBG’s sad demise, “Tony’s Back Pages” also ends. Or does it?
If my bloggy thing readers have enjoyed the feature, I’ll continue
writing it here or elsewhere. Maybe as its own blog. Maybe at some
other website. I’m open to offers and suggestions on both counts.
Let me know your thoughts.
Tomorrow’s bloggy thing will feature the “Tony’s Tips” column I did
for what would have been Comics Buyer’s Guide #700. It’ll serve as
my not-quite-complete eulogy for the publication with which I have
been associated for so long. I’m going to run it as written, then
return on Tuesday for my more-or-less final comments.
Stay well, my friends.
© 2013 Tony Isabella