FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: DC’S VIKING prince BY JOE KUBERT
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by Robert Greenberger
Comic books were floundering as the 1950s hit their midpoint. The popular genres of romance, war, and western were selling okay, but nothing was a major hit. The horror comics of the day were gutted by the just-instituted Comics Code Authority and while DC was squeaky clean in that regard, they as well were scrambling to find something to stimulate sales.
When personnel editor Robert Kanigher suggested an anthology of heroes from the past – a Roman gladiator, a Knight of the round table, and a Viking. His notion was that movies were gaining some traction from stories set in those eras while research of the day was proving that Vikings shown up in America long before Columbus, so they were somewhat topical. willing to gamble on Kanigher’s notion, Irwin Donenfeld authorized the book, entitled The take on and the Bold. For the first fifteen issues, the three features – the golden Gladiator, the silent Knight, and the Viking prince would share the 26 pages every other month.
Of the three features, the one with the most lasting appeal proved to the chanciest hero of all. As written by Kanigher and drawn by Joe Kubert, the Viking prince took visitors to unfamiliar lands and customs. set in the tenth century, Jon was found by fellow Scandinavians. An amnesiac, he was named Jon, and his enemy Thorvald, sought to kill the man before his memory returned and he sought revenge. later stories modified the background, making Jon the true son of the local King, Rikk, and ignored the amnesia story.
Now, for the first time, DC is collecting all those Viking prince tales in a hardcover. The book is arranged to include the stories from The take on and the strong #1-5, 7-24, and Our army at war #162 and 163. (Don’t despair, the solicitation reads only with B&B #20, but a quick inspect with editor Bob Harras confirms all the B&B problems are included.)
By this point, Kubert was drawing mostly war stories for Kanigher and he told The Comics Journal, “It was a different genre, and it provided me a chance to draw something other than army uniforms. I’ve tried, with every story, every job I’ve done, to do the very best I know how. That’s half the pleasure of doing this stuff.”
The take on & the strong #23
The full pleasure, then, was for the visitors who thrilled to fights against warring armies or sea serpents. After fifteen issues, the lineup was modified so just two features ran in each issue and B&B #16 offered up a exceptional 13-page story, written by Kanigher’s right hand man, Bob Haney. before leaving the series after 24 issues, there were two full-length tales, a glimpse of promise, one unfulfilled. issue #23, though, sported a exceptional Kubert cover in the laundry tones production whiz Jack Adler had recently introduced.
You can’t keep a good Viking down and seven years later, Kanigher and Kubert created a two-part Sgt. rock tale where Jon the prince was found frozen in ice. Thawed and trapped in a world he didn’t understand, trapped because a curse. Inventively, Jon was prohibited access to Valhalla, the hall of the dead, by Odin because he dared to like a Valkyrie and could only gain access if he died a heroic death. Seemingly, he got his reward, assisting the battle happy Joes of easy company stop a Nazi threat.
Of course, Jon has been subsequently utilized (and abused) in time tossed tales every since. Still, you can excitement to these original adventures by experts near the top of their form.
The cover to The take on and the strong #23 comes from the Grand Comics Database.