Christmas With Enemy Ace (1989)

Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2 (Enemy Ace)
“Silent Night”
Words/Pencils – John Byrne
Finishes – Andy Kubert
Colors – Glenn Whitmore
Editor – Mark Waid
Dedicated to – Joe Kubert & Bob Kanigher

Alrighty… talk about outta my comfort zone and headfirst into “uncharted territory”… here’s Enemy Ace!

Not only have I never discussed Enemy Ace before… I’ve never even read a story featuring him before!

So… it oughta go without saying… apologies to fans of the character, because… this time out, ya boi hasn’t got a clue!

We open at a military hospital… there is a downed plane nearby.  Inside a man with a mostly-bandaged head sketches Von Hammer’s airplane… which his attending nurse seems to appreciate.  This is, however, not as appreciated by a one-legged fella with a mustache… who swats all of the art to the ground.

Time passes, and Enemy Ace himself arrives at the hospital.  He’s brought with him provisions to ensure the patients and residents can have themselves a nice Christmas meal.

After the food is prepared and the meal shared, Von Hammer has himself a dance with the attending nurse from earlier.  This doesn’t go unnoticed by the bandage-headed fella.

After the dance, Hans walks over to the list of patients being treated, maybe some casualties too… and salutes.  Just then, a man points a gun in his direction.

It’s the bandage-headed fella!  The one-legged mustachioed guy makes sure the situation doesn’t escalate any further.

He then suggests Hans take his leave… which he does.

Not gonna lie… this one took me a few tries.  I question the wisdom of making the Enemy Ace feature a “silent” story.  I mean, if it were Superman or Batman… or any “mainstream” DC character, I could see this working for anyone reading it.  With Enemy Ace though?  He’s just off the beaten-path enough to where I wasn’t sure who was who… and what was what.

I know Enemy Ace primarily from his distinctive mask.  You take that off… and give him a standard non-distinct Byrnian face, and he kinda gets lost in the crowd.  My first couple of times through this one, I wasn’t even sure if Hans stayed for dinner!

In subsequent re”reads”, the story became a bit more clear… but I still wouldn’t swear to anything I’m about to say.  I get the impression that many of the injuries and casualties that this remote hospital has seen were due to the actions of Enemy Ace himself.  We see the bandaged man sketching Hans’ Fokker Triplane… so, I think we can assume he’s the one who shot them down.

Hans, who I don’t know from Adam, seems like during combat he’s just “doing his duty”… following orders, and all that.  Otherwise, he might be a caring and empathetic guy.  We can see this in how he salutes the fallen after having a dance.  This story reminds me a bit of the Christmas Truce of 1914… where German and British troops had a brief ceasefire in the midst of World War I.

Before we cut out, let’s have a look at the art.  I’m a pretty big Byrne fan, though even I will admit that his faces tend to be a bit generic from time to time.  Having Andy Kubert provide finishes really jazzed up the work.  I feel like Byrne/Kubert might’ve been one heck of an artistic “marriage”.  Really solid stuff here… wish there was more of it!

Tomorrow: Barry and Hal save Christmas!

4 thoughts on “Christmas With Enemy Ace (1989)

  • Billy Hogan

    This story was my favorite from this Christmas issue. I had thought that Joe Kubert drew this story, but his son Andy's inks give that impression obviously.

    • I thought this was a very good story too… after I sorta-kinda figured out the "whos" and "whys". That's more of a "me" problem than any sort of deficiency in the storytelling. I feel like, if not for the Deadman story we'll be looking at in a couple days, this might've been my walkaway favorite of this book as well!

  • I think a lot of what the Enemy Ace is about comes from the notion that pilots on both sides of both WWI and WWII had a kind of mutual respect for each other as combatants serving their nation and their actions were not of a personal nature. This story seems to portray that idea anyway. I like the fact that you cannot really tell who's who (sort of) because it blurs the line between hero / villain in a war setting.

    • I feel like you hit the nail on the head there! There are just soldiers doing their duty, and not (necessarily) good guys vs. bad guys…


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