Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Losers - Mile-A-Minute Jones!

In Our Fighting Forces one hundred and fifty-nine Jack Kirby and inker Mike Royer give us the story of Mile-A-Minute Jones, an African-American soldier who has to run a deadly race not only to survive but  to win a victory of sorts for his country. This is the final issue of the run which will feature a Jack Kirby cover. In fact Joe Kubert steps in to do all the covers for Kirby books this month and will continue to do with a few exceptions right through the end of Kirby's tenure.

The story begins with Henry "Mile-A-Minute" Jones attempting to elude Nazi soldiers who have attacked and largely wiped out his comrades. Using surprise and his speed he does manage to escape the Nazis, all save one named Bruno Borman who some years ago had been a runner and had competed against Jones himself at the Olympics in Berlin. The Losers show up and save Jones as they make their way into a town to capture a Nazi leader. While the Losers take their captive Borman escapes his bonds and races after them to warn a Nazi company some distance away. Jones sees him and tries to overtake him, and the two essentially recreated their race from years before but this time with life and death on the line. Borman given a head start wins, but as he leads the Nazis back to attack they run into a minefield and are destroyed. Jones had missed the mines because he followed a white line which showed the safe path through. So the Losers fly out with their captive and Jones as Borman's body lies on the battlefield.

The little fable here of Henry "Mile-A-Minute" Jones is of course inspired by the real life saga of Jesse Owens, the African-American Olympian who showed up Adolph Hitler in the 1936 games.

Owens famously won four gold medals in the Berlin games as a sprinter and long jumper, the first to do so and the most by any American until the 80's. The success of Owens put to lie the execrable nonsense about race superiority promoted by Hitler's noxious and properly defunct regime.

Kirby does a pretty good job here of recreating a contest and pits two old competitors against one another, this time for all the marbles.

More to come.

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