The action in this back-up story from Star-Spangled War Stories #183, picks right from last issue. Writer Robert Kanigher and artist Frank Thorne shift the narrative point-of-view back to Hans Von Hammer for the finale of this Enemy Ace v. Balloon Buster 3-part serial.
Challenging American maverick Steve Savage to a duel at dawn, Von Hammer makes his way to the rendezvous point, just in time to see a giant zeppelin burst into flames. This could be the work of only one person - The Balloon Buster. Savage had vowed last issue to arrive at the duel site early, in hopes of ambushing The Enemy Ace - though he could not resist such an easy target as the now burning balloon.
This falling inferno provides the backdrop to the aces' aerial contest, as they chase each other through the flames.
|Red zeppelin - backdrop for a showdown|
|Has Steve Savage busted his last balloon?|
Score at the half: Enemy Ace - 1, Balloon Buster - 0!
Von Hammer, thinking he's killed Savage, mourns the loss of such a courageous & worthy opponent. In a two-panel epilogue, 2 French nurses tend to a bed-ridden figure wrapped in bandages, Negative Man-style. The nurses can barely make out what the patient is mumbling, but it turns out to be Savage, miraculously alive, wanting another crack at Von Hammer. He'd get it - in The Balloon Buster's next back-up stint 8 years later!
|Savage, doing his Negative Man impersonation|
This is one of the few Balloon Buster stories to receive a modern reprinting - it's available in the Enemy Ace Archives vol 2, and in the Showcase Presents: Enemy Ace collections.