I do not believe it is out yet, but last weekend Joe Simon gave me a copy of “The Boy Commandos by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby” volume 1. The current law requires that I admit to any financial benefit that I received when blogging about published books. I am not kidding, bloggers have been prosecuted for failure report that that the publisher gave them the review copy for free. In my case I supplied some of the scans used in this book and I believe the restorations for the covers. With that out of the way, the best way to describe this volume is that if you liked DC’s Newsboy Legion archive than you will like this book, perhaps even more so. It is very much the same approach. The reprints are based on scans with the yellow page color replaced by white. The dimensions of the book required that the scans be reduced in size. Some have criticized DC’s approach to these archives and I even wished they had decided to published a larger volume so that scans could have been printed full size. However I am a big believer in the use of scans in reprints rather than the reprehensible sanitized recreations that Marvel continues to put out. The DC archive includes one story (“Satan Wears A Swastika” that I restored for “The Best of Simon and Kirby”. The version from TBoSK was enlarged so it has a distinct advantage over the one in the DC archive. Personally I prefer my version (a completely biased opinion) but I do not think the reader would be able to find any true discrepancies between the two.
The Boy Commandos were Simon and Kirby’s biggest hit for DC. While Sandman and the Newsboy Legion were prominently featured in the titles they appeared in, the Boy Commandos was the only Simon and Kirby comic to get its own title. Since the feature also appeared in Detective Comics and World’s Finest there are a lot of Boy Commandos stories. The first volume of the DC Boy Commandos archives only makes it as far as Boy Commandos #2 and Detective Comics #72 (they started in issue #64). Potentially there are a number of volumes of this archive to come. For those only interested in Simon and Kirby drawn work (and I fully understand) this is the only archive that DC has so far published that is nothing but Simon and Kirby.
There are other reasons that the Boy Commandos are special. Of all the creations that Simon and Kirby did for DC, the Boy Commandos were the only one that actually fought the Axis Powers. The war was the biggest event of the time and yet most superheroes stayed on the home front (and that included Sandman). While the Newsboy Legion did paper and metal drives, they remained residents of Suicide Slums. But in story after story the Boy Commandos confronted the greatest evil of the day. The American spirit versus the tyrannical evil in its purist form. Now some readers may find it a bit unrealistic for youngsters to fight in the war and of course they are right. But if the reader is willing to suspend their disbelief to read superheroes comics they should have no problem in doing so for boy warriors. Especially today when it some parts of the world it has become a sad fact of life. And the rewards are worth it. This is Simon and Kirby at their best. Imaginative stories full of action and humor. Something not to be missed.