Under the Radar: “WEIRD WAR TALES” #10 – First Professional Work by Walt Simonson

Welcome to another edition of Under the Radar, a segment where we will spotlight comic books that don’t have the widespread attention of the comic book community that they should.  Today, we’ll be looking at Weird War Tales #10, which contains the first professional work by comic book creator Walter (Walt) Simonson. 

Weird War Tales was a war anthology series that incorporated supernatural elements.  The series ran from September 1971 to June 1983 and lasted 124 issues.  Each issue included multiple, short, self-contained stories by a variety of creators, be it industry greats like Joe Kubert, Alex Toth, or newly found talent.  This article focuses on the latter.

Cover to Weird War Tales #10 from DC Comics

Weird War Tales was somewhat of a trail ground for DC, meaning when DC found aspiring creators, they’d assign them a short story in an issue to see how they handled their work.  Several creators got their first DC work under the Weird War Tales title, including Frank Miller and J.M. DeMatteis.  Among those creators is none other than Walt Simonson.

Walt Simonson is approaching 50 years of being a professional comic book creator and is known for a host of contributions to the medium all too numerous to mention.  He came to prominence working on a backup Detective Comics story featuring The Manhunter at DC Comics.  He is well known for generating a surge of interest into struggling Marvel titles such as The Mighty Thor, The Fantastic Four, and X-Factor, along with his own creation, The Star Slammers, and his current series Ragnarok for IDW. 

Title Page to Cyrano’s Army by Len Wein and Walt Simonson

All of this started with a short six-page story titled Cyrano’s Army appearing in Weird War Tales #10.  Blink though, and you may miss his credit.  You see, the issue only credited writer Len Wein with the story.  Eagle-eyed readers however will spot Mr. Simonson’s unique dinosaur-inspired signature in the bottom left corner of the opening splash page. 

Walt Simonson’s unique signature

I can’t say you’ll ever find this issue in the $.25 of your local comic book shop.  Comics from this era do seem to command a premium.  That being said, this issue doesn’t seem to garner any more attention than Weird War Tales #9, or #11.  It wouldn’t be uncommon to find this book in a discounted silver age bin.  I personally found it in a box of generically-marked $3 comics.  Books like this are important to comic book fans.  They are a piece of history; they represent the start of a beloved creator’s career.  If you find yourself in a comic shop or convention, see if you can find this book.  I doubt you’ll see it on the wall, or behind a case.  You’ll have to do some digging.  Books like this can typically only be found under the radar.


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