Aristocrats of War #5 – Blazing a Trail
With the Blazing Combat series from Warren Publishing, we get the best written overall series of war stories, ranging from all time periods. The art for the books was just as good. Of course, that is only my opinion. Comic Hall of Famer Archie Goodwin, who along with fellow Hall of Fame creators John Severin, Alex Toth, Reed Crandall, Gene Colan, Al Williamson, Russ Heath, and Wally Wood, produced the quarterly magazine. Frank Frazetta provided the cover art for the short-lived series.
Although Frank Frazetta was a legendary cover artist known for his fantastic art and illustration skills, he rarely dove into the War Genre. I will be the first to admit that his skill in military type illustration isn't as good as his fantasy and sci-fi work, but his cover for Blazing Combat #1 is fantastically dark, grisly, and full of mood. His covers for the Blazing Combat series were all great in their own way but I would have loved to have seen a Frazetta depict an ancient battle.
If you haven't read Blazing Combat, I highly suggest it. It isn't based on any one character but rather a series of short war stories ranging from all eras. The stories are more of a humanistic view on war than the traditional pro-war views comics had taken. I would compare it to EC's Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, although questioning war and not glorifying it.
Published first in October 1965, the series struck controversy right away with wholesalers questioning the publication's anti-war stance. Of course, this was before the turning of America public sentiment about the Vietnam War. With issue #2, a story called "Landscape" changed the history of the series. At the time many wholesaler's employees were veteran's and members of the American Legion, who ran a campaign within distribution channels to leave the books sitting on shelves and not offer them for sale to the public. By issue #4 Army PX's refused delivery and wholesalers were sending back unopened bundled with personal letters affixed to them. It was also at this time the controversy started to affect Warren's other titles.
My opinion is if Blazing Combat would had been released in 1975, and not 1965, it would have been a runaway success and quite possibly been the most well-received war publication ever produced. Sadly, it remains a little-known title, with little attention outside of war fans and Frazetta fans. There are numerous reprints available, and I highly recommend picking one up. Another great story from the series was based on the Spartan stand at Thermopylae, which is in issue #4. Again, the art is fantastic and writing is top-notch, so enjoy.
Currently, there are 46 Blue labels of Blazing Combat #1 on the CGC census, ranging from 3.0 to 9.4. High grades are difficult because of the black cover.
An 8.0 sold for $1150 in April, with earlier sales in 8.0 being $300 in 2008, so these have seen a nice return.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting.