Recently we learned that Steven Spielberg announced that he was diving into the comic book world for his next film project, an adaptation of the venerable Golden Age aviator hero team Blackhawk. So we figured we'd dig an issue of the comic book Blackhawk originally appeared in during the early 1940s - Quality's Military Comics - and see about making fun of it. Well, sure, Chop-Chop of the Blackhawks is a horrifyingly racist caricature, even for its era, but what really caught our eye was yet another team of fighter pilot commandos battling the Axis with their weird airplanes and their various ethnicities - a team we dare - we DOUBLE dare - Hollywood to attempt to monetize - the Death Patrol!
Five escaped convicts - and Del Van Dyne, a wealthy fop, decided what they needed to do was to put on prison-stripe uniforms and fly kooky planes as a 'Foreign Legion Of The Air' against the Luftwaffe! One fun fact about the Death Patrol - they live up to their name, as these expendable jailbirds find themselves getting killed and replaced by new expendable jailbirds on an appalling basis. Another fun fact is that the Death Patrol was created by Jack "Plastic Man" Cole, but art and script duties were taken over by Dave Berg. Yes, Mad Magazine's "The Lighter Side Of..."- THAT Dave Berg.
So let's meet our Death Patrol. Hank rustles cattle, Zazzy is a kleptomaniac, Butch cracks safes, Chief Chuck-A-Lug is, of course, responsible for a complex financial swindle that ruined Wall Street, and Gramps has committed the most heinous crime of all... being old.
I'll tell you who the REAL Death Patrol is, it's those guys sitting there smoking those cigarettes!
Always remember to ask your superior officer for permission to go blasting off in your fighter plane looking for trouble! The Death Patrol is nothing if not a rigidly disciplined fighting team of goofs and crooks!
Why, this lull in German activity is because they're shining their boots and polishing up their brass for a big five-point invasion of the British Isles- tonight! Guys, relax - Dr Who and Harry Potter are still DECADES away. You're not going to miss anything.
Well, wouldn't you know it, those darn Duke boys - I mean those darn Death Patrollers sneak out of their beds one at a time and individually take off in search of whatever flying adventure they can find in the middle of the night without lights, ground control or support from other pilots. That's adventure all right, just ask any pilot!
Deadstick landing on an enemy aircraft carrier in the North Sea? Sure, just another wacky adventure for the Death Patrol.
I think I speak for everyone who ever learned German in school when I say that misleading a task force of aircraft carriers is pretty much the only time you're gonna use that German.
Meanwhile the writer started counting pages and counting Death Patrollers and figured he'd better start teaming them up or he'd run out of space pretty fast. Hey, it looks like Butch is in trouble. Will Butch be the Death Patroller to live up to his Death Patrol name this time?
Kaboom! So long Butch. Hope there are plenty of safes to crack in the afterlife!
Chief Chuck-a-Lug, flying what appears to be one of those insane combination automobile-airplane things that were briefly popular in Popular Mechanics in the 80s, well, Chief Chuck-a-Lug blows the holy hell out of a Nazi warship. You go, Chief!
Ugh! Ugh? Ugh.
If only the Germans had a few cattle rustler pilots at Normandy Beach, the D-Day invasion would have had a very different outcome!
And here's Gramps, flying what appears to be a paper airplane, ready to battle 1,000 Nazi bombers with some leftover fireworks! That sounds like Gramps, all right.
I believe this is, contrary to the caption, the FIFTH point of German attack, but what's an extra invasion front or two between friends?
Those lucky Germans, getting a free fireworks show!
And so, scared off by fireworks, the Luftwaffe turns around. If only Poland had thought of fireworks!
The Germans get reamed out for failing to invade the British Isles not once, not twice, but five times! Meanwhile the Death Patrol gets read the riot act for daring to sneak out at night. I don't care if you DID defeat the entire Nazi army! A curfew is a curfew! I'm disgusted with the lot of you, says our commander as he looks back and smiles at those incorrigible Death Patrol rogues and their wacky German-destroying antics.
If the Colonel seems familiar to you, well, it might be that you've seen him pop up in later Dave Berg works, complaining about women's fashion and TV and his ungrateful hippie children...
So that's the Death Patrol, Hollywood. Go on, make a movie out of it. Bet you're too chicken. Cluck-cluck-cluck!
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