Aces High (E.C.)

 AHEC   (E.C., 1955)

™ and © Eclipse Comics

(From The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide)

Aces High is a comic about the rather limited subject of World War I flying aces which, after only five issues, was clearly running out of creative direction. The artists and writers faced several problems, not least finding ways to introduce American characters to stories set in France. Visually, while there is some stunning artwork, particularly from George Evans, it proved difficult to make the multiple dogfights that comprised the bulk of the action look different from story to story. The issues followed a similar pattern, opening with a visually accurate Evans story with beautiful artwork, followed by a story illustrated by Wally Wood, which usually had less fights and more characterization. Even so, this is obviously not Wood’s favorite subject matter and some of the figure work looks rushed. Bernie Krigstein looked most out of place in the line-up, cluttering his art as if trying to ape Evans and Wood’s level of intricacy. It doesn’t suit him, although the writers have obviously tried to accommodate his strengths and supply him with more character-based stories such as “Revenge” in #1 and “The Mascot” in #2. Finally Jack Davis, again drawing in a slightly more detailed style than one associates with him, would round out the issue with a quirky shock story like issue #5’s “Iron Man,” about a seemingly invulnerable fighter who doesn’t realize he’s a ghost. Davis’ broader line and robust approach to story-telling added a much-needed vigor.

Although lovely to look at, it’s clear Evans would have happily illustrated the same basic story until the cows came home. In issue #1’s lead story, “The Way It Was,” an old man reminisces to his grandchildren about how fine and chivalrous fighting was in the old days, and how the air aces subscribed to a forgotten code of conduct which was transgressed at their peril. It’s repeated time and again (“Chivalry!” in #2, “Footnote” in #3). Evans does get to draw the best story in the run, “The Green Kids” in #4, in which a squadron leader, sickened by the way young pilots with almost no experience were supplied as aerial cannon fodder, continually harangues his commanding officer, who seems cold and distant. When appointed to replace him he discovers that he had been futilely battling for the same ends. Generally, Aces High soft-pedals the “awfulness of war” angle for which Kurtzman’s earlier titles became justly famous, and here the idea is refreshing. Ultimately, beautifully drawn but few stories worth reading. ~FJ

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  NotesWriterArtist

#1

Date: 4/1/1955
Cover Price: $0.10
NM Guide: $120.00
No copies available
 Carl WesslerBernie Krigstein, George Evans, Jack Davis, Wally Wood

#2

Date: 6/1/1955
Cover Price: $0.10
NM Guide: $118.00
No copies available
 Carl WesslerBernie Krigstein, George Evans, Jack Davis, Wally Wood

#3

Date: 8/1/1955
Cover Price: $0.10
NM Guide: $75.00
No copies available
  Bernie Krigstein, George Evans, Jack Davis, Wally Wood

#4

Date: 10/1/1955
Cover Price: $0.10
NM Guide: $95.00
1 copy available for $26.00
 Carl WesslerBernie Krigstein, George Evans, Jack Davis, Wally Wood

#5

Date: 12/1/1955
Cover Price: $0.10
NM Guide: $75.00
No copies available
 Carl WesslerBernie Krigstein, George Evans, Jack Davis, Wally Wood