Navy Combat #1, June 1955, Atlas


Navy Combat no.1, June 1955, from pre-Marvel Atlas. This title launched a few months after the Comics Code started getting slapped on covers (notice how prominent the code seal is). Navy Combat shows how good comics could be under the restrictive and capricious Code. Navy Combat was packed with good art and decent stories – and fantastic covers. 

My copy for no.1 is a bit roughed up, but still holding together. “Dedicated to the valiant ships and courageous men of the United States Navy” proclaims the cover. This first dynamite issue is an all-Pacific, all WW2 action fest.

Atlas workhorse Joe Maneely illustrates a strong, dynamic cover of the US sub Barracuda, diving with Torpedo Taylor waiting until the last possible minute to close the conning tower hatch as the radio mast catches an enemy gunner’s round just behind him. The Pacific froths around the descending sub in a great waterline view, as a Zero skims the chop, seeming to be coming right at the reader. 

“Starring Torpedo Taylor in ‘Attack By Sea!’ Action aboard a fighting sub!” Reckless Torpedo Taylor struggles to save the Barracuda while a relentless destroyer probes the deep with depth charges. Fantastic art by Don Heck, some of his best work ever.


 “Salvo!” The big guns of our fighting fleet in blazing action! The other cover blurb refers to the second story. There are some terrific panels by Mort Lawrence in this short. 

Though they never refer to the battleship by name, I believe this is the USS West Virginia or “Wee Vee”, because the ship steamed into position on the 19th. The Wee Vee had to replace the USS New York when it struck a reef and damaged one of its propellers, traveling 900 miles in 50 hrs to join the battle with her 8 16″ big guns. 

Just as described in Salvo, the Wee Vee had to leave the battle at the end of the first day to obtain more ammo before returning to unleash more salvos.

“The Fighting Lady” is about the USS Yorktown and has great art by Joe Sinnott. The story is about Yorktown’s heroic fight in the Battle of the Coral Sea in which she was crippled when a dive bomber’s load tore through her upper deck. She sustained mortal wounds at Midway, also described here.

“Hit and Run” with amazing Joe Maneely art is about “Smokey Pete” PT 12 and their confrontation with the Japanese destroyer Kakakuma off New Guinea. Best as I could tell, this great David and Goliath story amid coastal waters is not based on history. There was no light cruiser called Kakakuma (there were Kuma-class cruisers).   

This is a treasure piece for any Naval War or Atlas art aficionados as is most of this series. One of these days, I need to find a cleaner copy. 



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