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Action-packed, thrilling, fantastic, and surrealistic,
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This review is from: Showcase Presents: Haunted Tank, Vol. 2 (Paperback)
Kanigher's imagination has no limits. These were among my favorite comics during my childhood and it's a thrill to be able to read them again. The Haunted Tank fights its battles in Europe, particularly France, the African desert, and in Russia. These issues cover late 1966 to early 1972. Like many other DC war comics, these are action-packed (and I would argue that these have more action than any other war comic), fantastic, and surrealistic. Kanigher has no limits as Jeb Stuart, accompanied by his namesake, a ghost general from the Civil War, and his tank travel to the past to fight WWI with Sgt. Rock's father, marries an Arab woman, and witnesses a fight between Attila the Hun and the Civil War ghost. This is not to mention that his small Stuart Light Tank constantly battles with buzzards, bigger Nazi Panzers, and even a submarine. It catches fire, it is disassembled and rebuilt, and it even survives an attack by lying on a wooden raft in a river.
In every issue, the general warns Jeb of impending danger without giving any specifics, since no human can know the future; while inside the tank, Jeb's mates wonder about his sanity every time he speaks to the ghost. Of course, later on, Slim gets to listen to and see the ghost in "The Ghost of the Haunted Tank" (Feb.-Mar 1968) and the whole crew has a close encounter with it in "Beyond Hell" (Oct.-Nov. 1972). Although Jeb does not exhibit physical action as much as Sgt. Rock does, he shows as much supernatural endurance, courage, and heroism as he. Often we see Jeb fighting against Nazi airplanes and getting in extenuating circumstances. His ability to survive a barrage of bullets, and fire coming from tanks, or perceive hidden enemy tanks, places him among the pantheon of DC super soldiers. "I prayed as the lead slug bounced all around me..." (in Stay Alive Until Dark, Aug.- Sep.1967) is characteristic of Jeb's supernatural encounters with the enemy. We do see some romance with a French resistance fighter, Mlle. Marie, and an Arab princess. The race issue and a Jewish soldier make their presence in "Let me Live... Let me Die!" (Apr.-May, 1970) and "Leave the Fighting to Us!" (Aug.-Sep. 1971. Every story here is unique, well-written, and well-illustrated. Kanigher's language is challenging for kids and adolescents. His use of metaphors and similes, along with the artwork of various DC illustrators, Russ Heath and Sam Glanzman (and Joe Kubert doing the covers) make these texts a great adventure to read.