Airboy

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Air Fighters Comics vol. 2, No. 2 (Nov. 1943): A typically cleavage-baring Valkyrie provides the "latest war thrills". Cover art by Fred Kida

Airboy is a fictional aviator hero of an American comic book series initially published by Hillman Periodicals during the World War II-era time period fans and historians call the Golden Age of comic books. He was created by writers Charles Biro and Dick Wood and artist Al Camy.

Publication history[edit]

Golden Age[edit]

Airboy debuted in Air Fighters Comics No. 2 (cover-date Nov. 1942), an omnibus series featuring a variety of aviator heroes.[1] The series was renamed Airboy Comics with vol. 2, No. 11 (Dec. 1945), and ran 89 issues, through vol. 10, No. 4 (May 1953).[2]

In the early issues, Biro wrote the scripts with Dave Wood and drew the covers, Al Camy was the initial story artist. He was followed by Tony DiPreta and, beginning with Air Fighters No. 10 (July 1943), Fred Kida, who would become closely associated with the series. Ernie Schroeder became the regular artist with Airboy Comics #vol. 5, No. 11 (Dec. 1948), through the end of the series' run, with Dan Barry, Maurice Del Bourgo, Carmine Infantino and others supplying an occasional story.[1][2] The two consecutive series contained backup stories about other aviators, including Skywolf, Iron Ace, the Black Angel, the Bald Eagle, the Flying Dutchman, the Flying Fool, and the prototypical comic book swamp monster, the Heap. Airboy's most frequently recurring supporting character was the German aviator Valkyrie, who fought on the side of the Axis but then defected to the Allies.

Hillman went out of business in the 1950s. Two issues were reprinted in 1973 and a trade paperback entitled Valkyrie!: From the Pages of Air Fighters and the Airboy was published in 1982 with five stories from Air Fighters Comics vol. 2, No. 2 and No. 7 and Airboy Comics vol. 2, No. 12, and vol. 3 No. 6 and #12.

Modern era[edit]

In 1986, Eclipse Comics published a new Airboy series, updated to the modern era, starring the son of the original character. The 50-issue comic (15 July 1986 – Oct. 1989), which ran as a half-sized (16-page) bi-weekly through issue No. 33 (1 Nov. 1987) and monthly thereafter, reintroduced many of the supporting characters from the old series, such as Valkyrie and a Japanese fighter pilot named Hirota, and guest-starred many of the characters who had appeared as backups in the original comics. Chuck Dixon scripted with the occasional assistance of Tim Truman, with Truman, Ron Randall and Stan Woch the main illustrators.[3]

Spinoffs from the Eclipse series include the one-shots Airboy-Mr. Monster Special (Aug. 1987),[4] Airboy Meets the Prowler (Dec. 1987),[4] The Air Fighters Meet Sgt. Strike Special (Jan. 1988),[5] Target: Airboy (March 1988),[4] and Airboy vs. the Air Maidens (July 1988).[4] Additional spinoffs starred related characters: Air Maidens Special (Aug. 1987), starring Black Angel, La Lupina, and Valkyrie;[6] the miniseries Skywolf #1–3 (March–Oct. 1988);[7] and two Valkyrie comics, the one-shot Valkyrie: Prisoner of the Past (Dec. 1987), drawn by Paul Gulacy,[8] and the three-issue miniseries Valkyrie! (July–Sept. 1988), penciled by Brent Anderson.[9] In addition, the Air Fighters co-starred in the five-issue miniseries Total Eclipse (May 1988 – April 1989), which featured most of the Eclipse stars together,[10] and the one-shot Total Eclipse: The Seraphim Objective (Nov. 1988).[11] Prisoner of the Past was collected as a trade paperback, as were Airboy #1–5 entitled The Return of Valkyrie. Prisoner of the Past was also published in a hardcover edition.

Starting in 1988, Eclipse also published Air Fighters Classics, a six issue bimonthly series dedicated to reprinting the original Golden Age stories of Airboy and related characters.

In 2007, Moonstone Books announced plans to revive the World War II character in new stories written by 1980s Airboy writer Dixon. However, the revival did not see print until March 2009, when Moonstone released the one-shot Airboy – 1942: Best Of Enemies.[12] Two issues of Airfighters, featuring Airboy, followed in 2010.[13]

The Valkyrie character was ranked 45th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.[14]

In 2012, Antarctic Press started publishing Airboy: Deadeye by Chuck Dixon, Gianluca Piredda and Ben Dunn.

Fictional character biography[edit]

The first Airboy was David ("Davy") Nelson II, the son of an expert pilot and, despite his youth, a crack flyer himself. His friend, inventor and Franciscan monk Brother Francis Martier, had created a highly maneuverable prototype aircraft that flew by flapping its wings, like a bird. Martier, however, was killed while testing it, and Davy inherited both the plane and a uniform, which had apparently been in Martier's family since the French Revolution. Davy soon christened himself "Airboy", and in his seemingly sentient new plane, "Birdie", helped the Allies during World War II.

Airboy confronted such weird antagonists as intelligent rats, the mysterious Misery – whose Airtomb imprisoned the souls of dead pilots – and his cleavage-baring Nazi archnemesis, Valkyrie, a German aviator who later became his ally.

After the conclusion of World War II, David Nelson II continued to work as a freelance pilot and mercenary for a time, but he eventually retired from combat flying and stored Birdie in a barn outside his California estate. He had a son, whom he named David Nelson III, and founded an aircraft manufacturing company, through which he became very wealthy. In the mid-1980s, David Nelson II was assassinated by mercenaries from the South American nation of Bogantilla. When David Nelson III discovered that his father had been assassinated, he began to investigate the circumstances which had led up to his father's death. He soon discovered his father's mothballed plane and uniform and teamed up with a number of the surviving Air Fighters to face many of the same enemies as David Nelson II, as well as South American dictators, Soviets, pirates and corporate criminals.

Homages[edit]

The first volume in the Wild Cards novel series edited by George R.R. Martin includes a character called Jetboy, an Airboy analogue created by Howard Waldrop who wanted to write an Airboy story.[15]

The lead character of publisher America's Best Comics' graphic novel Top 10: The Forty-Niners is Jetlad, whom historian Jess Nevins calls, "an analogue of Charles Biro's teenaged aviator Airboy."[16]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Air Fighters Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  2. ^ a b Airboy Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  3. ^ Airboy (Eclipse, 1986 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ a b c d Airboy series at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ Airfighters [sic] Meet Sgt. Strike Special, The at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ Airmaidens [sic] Special at the Grand Comics Database
  7. ^ Skywolf at the Grand Comics
  8. ^ Valkyrie: Prisoner of the Past at the Grand Comics Database
  9. ^ Valkyrie! at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ Total Eclipse at the Grand Comics Database
  11. ^ Total Eclipse: The Seraphim Objective at the Grand Comics Database
  12. ^ Airboy – 1942: Best Of Enemies at the Grand Comics Database
  13. ^ Airfighters (Moonstone, 2010 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  14. ^ Frankenhoff, Brent (2011). Comics Buyer's Guide Presents: 100 Sexiest Women in Comics. Krause Publications. p. 34. ISBN 1-4402-2988-0. 
  15. ^ "Wild Cards – Origins". Wildcardsonline.com. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  16. ^ Nevins, Jess. "Annotations for The Forty-Niners". EnjolrasWorld.com. Archived from the original on 16 July 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 

References[edit]