Issue by Issue – Combat Kelly and His Deadly Dozen #9

Writer – Gary Friedrich
Artist – Dick Ayers
Inker – Vince Colletta
Colours – Petra Goldberg
Letters – Jean Izzo

For most of its run, Combat Kelly and The/His Deadly Dozen has been a pretty standard war comic, though one written and drawn exceptionally well by Gary Friedrich and Dick Ayers with this entry, which is also its last issue, being no exception. What makes this issue different than the rest and sets itself apart from most other comics in this genre, or any genre is that most of the cast is killed off with only two members of the Dozen remaining. It all continues off the last issue that would find Kelly and Laurie prisoners of the Nazi scientist Dr. Sweikert, an abomination of a man who experiments on human beings in order to further his research. Knowing that the two are trapped, the rest of the group led by Jay Little Bear are intent on rescuing them, the mission at this point forgotten. Attacking en masse, the companions make a go of it and even before they have begun, Doc Watson is gunned down. Not that they needed any, but it provides what is left of the Deadly Dozen incentive to just attack and consequences be damned. One by one, the rest of the team is killed off whether by the Nazis or through self-sacrifice and while that happens, Sweikert performs his monstrous experiments on Laurie who screams like the life is leaving her with Kelly unable to do anything about it. As time passes, Combat Kelly manages to get himself free, but when he finally reaches Laurie’s side, Sweikert has already finished removing her Achilles tendons from both legs, his intention to try and replace them with something else, to see if his genius can make her walk again. When it is all said and done, Kelly’s rage has gotten the better of him and Sweikert, the only man who might have possibly cured Laurie, lies dead. Eventually, he and Laurie escape with the help of Jay Little Bear who is the only other remaining member left alive, though that too does not last for long. Friedrich and Ayers end the book off on a fairly tragic note, with Kelly quitting the army so that he might look after the woman he loves, now forever crippled. As a series finale, the book was packed with action, suspense, drama and tension with the only thing anybody could have asked for at this point being the book not ending just yet. A good series that definitely finished better than how it began with the creative team delivering a powerhouse send-off.

4.5 out of 5

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