In the year 1942, a young boy was thrust into the spotlight of comics and war! Davy Nelson, A.K.A. Airboy, is a teenage pilot that not only has great skills, but also an unbelievable airplane to perform great feats that seasoned veterans can only dream of! His plane, Birdy, is such a fantastic piece of aviation wonder, that many have tried to duplicate it, but no one has had any luck in doing so. This Golden Age character was revived in the 1980s by Eclipse Comics, and had a 50 issue run starring the son of Davy Nelson. I was privileged enough to be asked to check out the first three issue of the current series (Antarctic Press) written by Chuck Dixon and Gianluca Piredda, with artwork by Ben Dunn!
In the first issue, the action begins immediately. The teenage Airboy is dog fighting with another elite pilot who is unaware that the war is over (as it is now 1946). The bandit seems to be able to match Airboy move for move, but he doesn’t have the awesome airplane, Birdy, that Davy has! The bandit makes a hasty retreat to an unknown location, and Airboy, along with the others on the American base, are befuddled. Next, Airboy and a few of his friends go into the jungle to seek out this bandit on the ground. They find a Japanese soldier who thinks the war is still going on. After some persuasion, he relents with his attack, and agrees to surrender. Airboy eventually becomes friends with this soldier, Nakai, and after he returns to Japan, he’s visited by his new friend. Neither is ready for what awaits in the aftermath of the war, though!
From an artistic standpoint, this issue was great. The cover really makes this issue jump off of the shelf at you (cover by Kelsey Shannon). The interiors were nicely done, as well, and even though the book is in black and white, it doesn’t hinder, but rather it gives the story a nostalgic feeling. The story itself is a war story of sorts, but with an emphasis on the lead character, Davy Nelson, and his technologically advanced airplane. A solid plot keeps things moving nicely, and it was nice to get some back story, as well.
The second issue provides more action, as Airboy and Nakai battle some Japanese thugs that are trying to get Japan back on its feet, but through illegal means. At first, the Japanese warlords try to entice Nakai into helping their cause, but he refuses. He basically is then branded a traitor, but then to maker things worse, Airboy gets captured by these men. It doesn’t seem so bad, until he escapes but remembers that they still have his one of a kind airplane, Birdy!
The most recent book shows some betrayal, with Airboy falling in love with Nakai’s beautiful daughter. After meeting back up together, Nakai and Airboy must infiltrate an impenetrable complex, take out the thugs, and take back his plane without getting killed. Little do they know that the sinister scientists have already stolen some of the plane’s secrets and are putting them to use against them!
All three issues were solid and moved nicely with even pacing, good artwork, and an interesting but very unique tone. One thing that stands out right away, is that just judging by the cover and artwork, you’d think this was an all-ages read. It definitely isn’t, though. Not to say that it’s a mature read, but it’s not light or whimsical, and the story is heavy enough for any adult. The creators, Chuck Dixon, Gianluca Piredda, and Ben Dunn, do a great job at bringing back this Golden Age hero! If you love period pieces or military themed books, this is for you! Give Antarctic Press a look, because they have an individual style and put out some interesting books! Rating 4/5