The American Eagle tells it to a Nazi.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Charlton Comics
First Appeared: 1965
Creators: Unknown scripter; Charles Nicholas and Vince Alascia (artists)
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The name "American Eagle" sounds like it could belong to one of those flag-wearing superheroes that comic books were full of back during World War II. In fact, that's exactly what Standard/Better/Nedor Comics (Black Terror, Supermouse) called exactly that sort of superhero. And it also sounds like what an American Indian who was trying to ingratiate himself to the occupiers of his country might call himself — which is probably why Prize Comics (Frankenstein, Young Romance) used that name …

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… for a western character that it published during the 1950s. But whether it sounds like a World War II fighter pilot or not, that was the name Charlton Comics chose for just such a character in the 1960s.

The third U.S. comic book series character called "American Eagle" made his first appearance in Charlton's Fightin' Air Force #50 (August, 1965). The writer's name hasn't been recorded, but it was pencilled by Charles Nicholas (The Blue Beetle) and inked by Vince Alascia (Captain America).

The American Eagle as done by Charlton was one of those insubordinate, idiosyncratic, altogether non-military military men you find a lot of in comic books. Perhaps not as bad as MLJ's Sgt. Boyle, who would never have lived through his antics in a real-life war zone, but easily rivalling Marvel's Sgt. Fury. He didn't have Fury's panache, or even that of ACG's Cowboy Sahib, but that's only because he didn't have such talented creators crafting his stories.

The Eagle's superior officer, that is, the guy he had to get his hare-brained schemes past, was Col. "Hardnose" Cole. The guys he regularly fought Nazis with were "Reb" Folsom, "Ugly" Harrison Clymes and "Hot-Rock" Hutchins. Together, they'd sally forth in their P-51 Mustang aircraft, and, miraculously, always emerge victorious.

Their creative personnel didn't stick around very long, but The American Eagle wasn't around very long either. Only one other artist is known to have worked on one of their stories, Ernie Bache (Fightin' Five), but Pat Masulli (Kid Montana) and Rocke Mastroserio (Black Fury) worked on his covers.

The American Eagle appeared only in Fightin' Air Force, of which the final issue was #53 (March, 1966). After he was gone, the only time the name was used was for a member of Marvel's Squadron Supreme, and he switched superhero names several times.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Charlton Comics.