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G.I. Combat 141
"Let Me Live... Let Me Die!"


Story: Robert Kanigher Art: Russ Heath

(Originally Reviewed On 02/06/02)

On the cover by Joe Kubert, The Haunted Tank is a flaming wreck, with its crew strewn around it, and a sweating Jeb Stuart is in shock, and yells at the corpse in his arms that the loss of his crew and tank is because of him!

The Haunted Tank is being reloaded for shells, as they must plug a hole in the line prior to enemy attack, while a Private insists that he is moving as fast as he can, especially since they're short-handed and he's not exactly an octopus. Time passes, and The Haunted Tank rolls out, with Rick wondering why the rear echelon commando is upset since they are the ones who will be on the firing line, while he's sitting in back, but Jeb points out that all folks have their own problems.

The Haunted Tank arrives about twenty miles east of the ammo dump and meets up with Easy Company, where Jeb wonders why Rock and his men haven't dug in yet, especially with no cover. Rock points out that it's all solid rock and that the tank must be Easy's umbrella for this one, with steel rain on the way. The first of the enemy tanks roars into view, with Rock telling Jeb that recon has said that they intend to break through, but Easy's orders is to hold them. Jeb agrees since The Haunted Tank is now part of Easy's family and both of their lives are on the line... The battle explodes with fiery steel seeking to pierce the heart of the combatants. Jeb urges Rick to pour it on and to heat up the 37, while Rock tells Easy that the enemy tank is the key to keeping the Kraut-Heads at bay!

BRATTA BRATTA CLICK! CLICK! Hell is personified in the form of a machine gun spitting fire... and hell is also a now silent one. One enemy tank has been downed, with another to be taken down... BLAM CRANG! CLANKETY CLANK! BAM BAM CLICK! CLICK! The Haunted Tank Cannon is also sending the sound of thunder, until even it runs into silence.

The redness of the combat has stained the scorched earth, with The Haunted Tank out of ammo, but still with their sidearms, and Jeb eager to stick by Easy, but Rock has other ideas... Not wanting to be collecting their dogtags, as well, Rock points out that they need the tank's firepower, and for them to return to the ammo dump for a refill. Jeb wonders what would happen if the enemy returns to smash through while they're away, with Easy not packing a bazooka...? Rock tells them that Easy'll hold, but not for them to take too long! Jeb tells Slim to speed up, while Slim says that they don't exactly have wings... yet! Miles pass, and Jeb sees The General, he who can see through the smoke of battle, and he asks if The Tank will be able to get back to Easy in time, but The Confederate General tells him that things will not be the way he thinks...

Time is hard to keep track of, an unknown interval until The Haunted Tank reaches the ammo dump... and sees the smoke...! CLANKETY --- CLANK -- CLANK -- CLANK --- All that there is left to see is the smoking debris of what once was an ammo dump and its personnel.

Jeb wonders if there's anyone left alive, and from the smoky soil, there rises a survivor, who tells them that they should have been there sooner, and that the party was not one to be missed.

It was an hour after the tank left, when two enemy tanks came, their crews laughing and calling them errand boys, for the rear echelon had nothing to fight back with, and the private heard their laughter... even over the roar of the machine guns, and he... can still... hear 'em... laughin'. The private reaches for some ammo from what survived, and tells Jeb that all they're interested in is to fight the war, and it would be his pleasure to supply them with what's left. Jeb, Slim, Rick, and Arch form a relay, while the private insists that he didn't enlist to be a delivery boy, for he is wearing the uniform of a soldier, and he's wanted to live-- or die... like a man!

Once The Haunted Tank has been re-armed, Jeb urges the private head back to the rear, especially since the enemy might want to give the dump another going over, but the private is done with being hit and not being able to hit back... he is coming with them! The private tells Jeb about being a boy in Harlem... playing with soapbox carts and baby buggy wheels, which he found in garbage dumps... he dreamed of driving some big wheels, and now, here he is, in the ultimate clankin' hot-rod! Inside, the crew think that the private figures this to be some kind of game, that Jeb shouldn't have let him ride with them, and that when trouble hits, the private will hit the panic button! RATTATAT An FW at 12 o'clock high! Jeb tells Rick to elevate the 37, but is hit, not hearing Rick say that it's too high for it to be elevated.

The Focke Wulf makes a sharp bank above them, and the private is trying to see where Jeb was hit, and then... he makes his play... RATTATATA... The Focke Wulf is back for another round, and the private fires the machinegun... RATTA TAT... on the hottest spot in town... RATTATAT TAT BRATTA TATATA The private is in it for the long haul, and he collapses, just as the flaming Focke Wulf passes right in front of him...

The private tells Jeb that he should see a medic, but Jeb needs a man at the machine gun even more. He tells the crew to get rolling, and that the private is taking over for him topside, while the crew wonders if he knows what he's doing. The private sees that the crew isn't exactly thrilled with the idea, and Jeb insists that he hasn't heard anything, and that there's no time for talk... Indeed, the miles pass without so much as a word... They arrive to see Easy caught in a fiery inferno, with the private knowing that the tank can't fire at the enemy tank without killing their guys, too!

Rock tells Easy to hit the dirt and yells at Jeb that it's okay to fire since they're all insured! The Haunted Tank fires and sends the enemy tank out of commission. The private is firing the machinegun... BRATTA BRAT BEEOW... his place is up -- front! BLAM! BRATTATAT BRAT BEEOW VIP BRATTATAT The private nails the last tank... then collapes...

He sees the tank catching fire... the ammo and fuel inside will cause it to explode... and he begins to beat at the flames with his bare hands! Silence has settled over the smoky battlefield, and the enemy has fallen back... Jeb believes it was his own fault for taking the private along, for he would still be alive if he'd ordered him back! No, the private thanks him, for he'd have rather live or die like a man! Flames engulf the remains of the enemy tank, while a blazing sun casts a halo around Jeb, who embraces the private.

It is said that a soldier's greatest tribute... is the respect of his fellow soldiers... as the private's remains are carried by The Haunted Tank, then lowered by its crew, while Sgt. Rock and Easy Company stand silent beneath dark clouds. Rain begins to fall, and The Haunted Tank begins to roll... the private saved their lives... and they didn't even know his name, but Jeb Stuart points out that all you've got to know is... HE was -- A MAN!

The cover by Joe Kubert has Jeb Stuart bearing some resemblance to the actor, Nick Adams (No Time For Sergeants).

Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath craft stories where the reader has come to the conclusion that both writer and artist must have been there in person to present such vivid scenes. Joe Kubert, too, is also of such an ilk. I can easily see Joe sitting at a bar and sharing drinks with the likes of Katar Hol, Tor, The Balloon Buster, and Enemy Ace.

The title sounds like a James Bond movie title, but it came first.

Russ Heath has recently drawn part of an issue of Suicide Squad, as well as an issue of Starman, Fanboy, Thrilling Comics (JSA crossover event with Hawkman and Wildcat), Enemy Ace: War Idyll (He told me that his art was ready and the delay was due to the other artist), the "Heat" arc of Legends of The Dark Knight.

Mr. Heath also mentioned that the toughest thing for him to draw would be hands. He used his own hands as models in a story featuring The Living Brain of Von Schmitter from The Atlas books of the '50s.

The letterspage features a letter from Chris Juricich, who thanks Joe for the latest story in G.I. Combat with the return of The Losers. The idea of the plot and its implications are staggering. He wonders if The Losers will be published in their own mag, and hopes so, particularly for Johnny Cloud.

He doesn't want The Losers to take the place of The Haunted Tank. He doesn't like Captain Storm or Gunner, Sarge and Pooch that much, but in a series of future team-ups between the two would be well welcomed. He wonders what Joe thinks and asks him to spell his name right.

Joe responds that at the time of this writing, many issues of Our Fighting Forces star The Losers and if reader reaction warrants the number of letters they've received on The Losers acceptance, they have a good chance of being winners after all!

He hopes that Mr. Juri --- Jurr --- Jecir --- or however he spells his name is pleased.

Hmm... methinks The Juricich is still out on that.

This Review Is Dedicated To Chris Juricich

Steve Chung
"Let Me Live... Let Me Review!"