Friday, July 24, 2015

War Is Hell (But Necessary) 6

Chapter 6

Discussing yesterday's story. A great example of Chapman's qualities as a storyteller.


"It's June in Korea... but don't expect pretty flowers! They can't find the sun... because the dead are in the way!" That's the start of the story called Battle Convoy in Battle #6. It is drawn by Russ Heath, who depicts the action with extreme realism.

The hero of this story is corparal Hank Stern, who is stuck being a truck driver when he want to be fighting at the front. When the narrator warns him that being at the front is not all it's cracked up to be, he looks straight at the reader and says: "Aw, shut-up! What are you butting in for?!"

Is it a coincidence that the hero's name, Stern, is also the name of Harvey Kurtzman's former studio mate Charlie Stern? Probably, but worth noting anyway.

The narrator doesn't shup up, though. He tells him about the horrors of the front line:

"Don't go shouting off your mouth like that, corporal Stern. Yelling that you want to be in combat doesn't mean that you are a brave man... it means you're foolish. While you are screaming to get up to the front, every G.I. up on the line is cursing the day he was sent into combat. And they have reason to curse... the Chinese have launched another of their vicious Jen Hai (human sea) attacks."

He then shows the attack while quoting Lord Tennyson, John Pierpont, General Sherman and William Shakespeare. 

"But you wouldn't know about all that, corperal Stern... because you are tucked away safely in your sack."

But Stern is a stubborn man. He wants to have a medal and will do anything to get it. When he is asked to join a convoy of trucks to deliver ammunition to the front, he takes first position. 

The convoy leaves. "And twenty trucks loaded with ammunition roll into the night..." 

Of course, the convoy gets attacked and it all goes wrong. 

Corperal Stern't truck is the only one to make it through. He will get his medal... but it wil have to be posthumously.

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