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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Weird War Tales 50 - the Spear of Destiny

Before I go on to issue 52, I am going to jump back to cover Weird War Tales 50 (Jan/Feb 77). It's a full length story, by Steve Englehart, Dick Ayers and Alfredo Alcala. As it is neither a Day After Doomsday tale, nor a Tales of the Great Disaster one, I hadn't paid much attention to it. But then Earth Two (the person, not the universe) called me on skipping it. It is an important story for DC Comics, as it introduces the Spear of Destiny.

The story opens in Hitler's bunker at the end of World War 2. Hitler was in possession of the Spear of Destiny, and believed that it signified that he was the "Coming Man," the ruler destined to control the world. It didn't, and he wasn't.

The story follows an American solider, one of a group who burst into the bunker, aiming to capture Hitler, but too late to do so. He and a friend follow a man they see escape from the bunker. The friend gets killed, and the GI is wounded, but makes to a German house. There he is treated kindly by an aristocrat and his daughter. Eventually he learns that they retrieved the Spear from the bunker, and he learns the story of the legendary object. The Spear belonged to the Roman soldier who used it to pierce Jesus. It is attributed, in this telling, to have later belonged to Alexander the Great and Napoleon, before coming into Hitler's hands, and to give the bearer great military power. There is no larger supernatural element, as it would come to acquire in later DC stories.

The German guy believes the Spear will allow him to rule in Hitler's place. He and the soldier fight over it. The soldier manages to get the Spear, and winds up killing the man and his daughter.

The soldier then wonders if he is meant to be the Coming Man. He isn't. He gets shot and killed by a Chinese servant, who then steals the Spear for himself. The Spear becomes a harbinger of the wars to come in the 20th century.

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