Friday, August 03, 2012
THE BOY COMMANDOS
We're going back to 1943 this week, to a time when "Detective Comics" was huge, I mean physically gigantic, an inch or more taller, an inch or more wider, and with a lot more pages than in today's comics, with not nearly as many ad pages.
One of the features that Batman made room for in the pages of Detective Comics was "The Boy Commandos," a group of four ten-year-old boys who were formed into a commando squad for some reason and sent into battle on every front in World War II.
It sounds insane and perhaps a little irresponsible, but it's not quite as bad as all that. You see, they had a little guidance in the form of a single adult, Capt. Rip Carter, so it's not like they were actually riding snowmobiles and attacking the Nazis in Russia all alone in insane stories like the one in Detective Comics #69. You see, Captain Carter was always along to make sure they were safe.
There was Andre, the French boy, who gets to say things like:
We must get zem out quickly before ze fire spreads!
And then there's Jan, the Dutch boy, who talks like zis, I mean, this:
Vot iff vun of those towers should fall out of the clouds, I vunder?
He says that when they're in New York, impressed with the skyscrapers, I guess. Which brings us to Alfy, my favorite, who says "Blimey" a lot. As in:
Blimey! H'i 'ad no idea h'i was so fymous!
(I think I could overlook this if it weren't for the "y" in "fymous." That's just excessive.) And then there's the leader of the kids, second in command to Carter. He's called Brooklyn, because he's from Flatbush, which is, apparently, in Brooklyn. He says "youse" a lot:
Youse limeys is slow to catch on! Any mugg wot gets inta dis scrap is a hero!
(I swear, I could just fill this post up with the dialogue from pretty much any randomly chosen Boy Commandos story! But I shall refrain. Let us move on.)
And they fight Nazis who talk like this:
No vun vill effer be able to shtop us Nazis!
Hurry! Pass der dummies und let's get oudt of here!
The Boy Commandos first appeared in Detective Comics #64 in 1942 and the feature quicky became a hit! It was in Detective Comics for a while, also in World's Finest for years, and they had their own comic book that lasted long after the war had ended.
I've heard that, in their heyday, The Boy Commandos were the third most popular heroes that DC put out, just behind Batman and Superman. It may be true. After all, their own comics book lasted all of 36 issues, to the end of 1949. That's a pretty good run for a 1940s comic book.
Here's a sample splash page:
I'm going to say a few words about the insanity that is The Boy Commandos story in Detective Comics #76. The Boy Commandos get a ticker tape parade in New York City! Also showing up to honor The Boy Commandos are The Sandman, Sandy and The Newsboy Legion! Each boy commando gets to say something in his inimitable manner:
Ya doity Nazis! Put down dem rods an' I'll take on your whole gang!
Somezing ees wrong weeth ze motor of ze car ahead!
Ve vill show the Nazi dogs!
Wot 'o! Me 'eads busted!
The Nazis, fearful of the boost to morale that the U.S.A. may harvest from The Boy Commandos, rig up a set of dummies as decoys while they kidnap the real Boy Commandos!
Poor Nazis! They find that the boys are a bit too much to handle and, with a little help from Sandman, Sandy, The Newsboy Legion and every Brooklynite who's younger than ten years old, the Nazis are routed, but not before they can say things like:
On your way to Berlin, English pig!
Und (I mean, and):
Bah! Infants mit toys!
Things are wrapped up rather neatly in 12 pages.
When I was surfing and looking for some supplementary material, I came across a link to a Boy Commandos story where they help out in The Iliad. That's right! They invade Homer's epic poem and take part in the Trojan War!
That's from The Boy Commandos #3.
I leave you now with this parting thought from Alfy:
Blimey! This is fun! Every time I jumps on 'im, oi bounces!