|The set-up for most 'Balloon Buster' stories for years to come|
Savage experiences first-hand the hell of trench warfare, as German artillery, directed by observation balloons, rains down on the American unit.
Reunited with his squad on patrol the next day, Savage can't help but disobey orders to stay in formation, by attacking the observation balloons that caused the casualties witnessed the day before. The balloons are destroyed, but not before Savage is wounded by a German ace in a tiger-striped Fokker named Von Sturm. The following day, Von Sturm drops a leaflet challenge to the recovering Balloon Buster - 'I'll be waiting for you in the skies above your field!' Before Savage can react, the challenge is taken up by a young pilot admirer in Savage's squad. Von Sturm shoots the young pilot down, which was the biggest mistake he ever made, as this spurs Steve Savage into action.
|German ace Von Sturm drops a gauntlet at the feet of the Ballon Buster|
|The distinct look of The Balloon Buster is now complete|
The letters page, at the back of the book, gives some unusual insight into the creative process. In his response to Alvin Kessler of Newark, NJ (ever wish for a 'Where Are They Now - Comics Letter Hacks' book? Yesterday's letter writers are today's bloggers/podcasters, I guess), writer/editor Robert Kanigher, in the spirit of what I hope is jest, calls out artist Russ Heath, giving him a hard time for his slow work pace. Considering that All-American Men of War was a bi-monthly book, and these 1st two Balloon Buster stories were only 15 pages each, Heath must have worked at an incredibly deliberate pace, or perhaps had too much on his plate and fell waaaaaay behind. Whatever the case, in the next issue, a new artist is drawing the adventures of Steve Savage.
|I don't recall responses like this in the back of old JLAs or Green Lanterns|