Saturday, July 4, 2009


Well, couldn't have planned this better if I'd planned it better, but the 200th issue of STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES falls on Independence Day.

Parts One and Two here:

The Unknown Soldier, still disguised as Nazi Lt. Holbach, is about to be ventilated by a super-pissed Mlle. Marie, French rebel, flanked by her Maquis fighters. At the Soldier's feet is the recent suicide, guard Sgt. Schepke, whom he'd come to find. As Marie draws down on the Soldier, Nazis guards slam into the room and begin a firefight with the Maquis. Mlle. Marie is trying to escape via a window, but the Soldier knows she will sign his death warrant with the Allies by confirming his guilt as a double agent. "Holbach" quickly captures Marie, demanding the Maquis stand down before he kills her.

Holbach knocks out Marie before she can reveal him to be a spy. The Nazis are unaware that Holbach is the Soldier, and so he continues the pretense. Ordered to tie Marie in the Colonel's office for questioning and, no doubt, torture, Holbach is on the spot when Marie regains consciousness and explodes with anger. Holbach convinces her to play along, with the possibility of striking a "blow for France."

Marie pretends to still be unconscious while the Nazi Colonel returns, gloating over the Fatherland's victory. The "Sonic Shell" has been loaded on a train headed to the French Front, where it will be used against the Allied Forces there. Holbach gets the Colonel to reveal how the Nazis fooled the Unknown Soldier into delivering a deadly bomb to the Allied Foreign Forces leader Lethin. Once Marie has overheard this information, Holbach breaks a wine bottle over the Colonel's skull and frees her. Together, Holbach and Marie gather the design plans for the Sonic Shell and prepare to stop the train. However, they find that Marie's Maquis have been tied to the exterior of the train engine to discourage attacks. Marie is distrought, convinced there is a way to save her men. The Soldier knows there's no time, and locks Marie in a utility shed to keep her out of the way while he goes to destroy the train.

Marie breaks out of the shed, but the Soldier reaches the train engine and gets it rolling. The Maquis tied nearest explains he understands the situation, that they will all die destroying the train. The Maquis knows how to run the train. The Soldier frees him, and the Frenchman gets the train up to speed while the Soldier lays down cover fire. Once out of range of the Nazis soldiers, the Maquis tells the Soldier to jump free. The Soldier refuses, taking full responsibility for the suicide mission, but the Maquis pushes him off: " are the most valuable weapon ze Allies have. And I'm afraid zat our mistake in not believing that makes the responsibility ours!"

The barreling train smashes into the munitions factory, erupting in a massive conflagration, killing the Nazi Colonel and all of Marie's fighters strapped to it. The Soldier slips away, but is stopped by Mlle. Marie, her weapon trained on him. She agrees that the train had to be destroyed, but the Soldier is responsible for murdering her friends. Walking away, Marie relates that she will report the Soldier's innocence to the Allies, but "I warn you, monsieur: should you ever return to France when ze War is over, watch carefully ze shadows, because I will be among them...and I will be waiting..."

Another solid gem from Michelinie and Talaoc. Their timing and execution is impeccable by this time. Again, this particularly three-parter isn't as strong as some of the individual stories, but the depth gained by adding Mlle. Marie makes up for it. There's a strange and unique interaction beneath the surface of the War-bound warriors, something in the art I think. And I find it a shame Marie isn't in more stories of this run, because Talaoc has a fascinating touch on her, finding a nice balance between courage and vulnerability, allowing Marie to be a woman while still formidable as a rebel leader.

Out of Five 3D Men

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