Deed of Valour is an iconic issue and an iconic story. This is a story of redemption.
The main character Joe Burns is a coward. He manages to save his own skin many times at the expense of the lives of his comrades. He becomes adept at survivng and uses his status as the last man standing to gain promotion and notoriety as tough veteran. Only the young officer, Bob Leefe, who shared his first action and the same overwhelming fear and disgrace in front of the enemy knows the truth about Burns. However while Leefe carries the shame of that event, Burns congratulates himself for not getting caught out. The two men are soon seperated but inevitably their paths cross again.
I love this story as it screams redemption from the very begining. You know how it's going to end - but that's not the point. It's Burns' lack of moral fibre and arrogance that see the story through.
In later editions this cover image was also used to advertise upcoming issues and encourage subscriptions. I consider it a bonus that it also contains a great story.
Burns is craven coward! Why don't you fight man!
I like the AAGH!
Don't worry it's not Burns - he's hiding somewhere.
Take any War Picture Library, Battle Picture Library or Commando comic and you will always find those famous last words “arrgghhhhh” or even “donner und blitzen”.
Cowards try to prove themselves or officers interfere by trying to run battles “by the book”. The enemy is treacherous. Mysterious locations hold significant secrets. Sometimes a simple gun is the focal point of a unique karmic destiny.
There are those who are lost or left behind enemy lines where they invariably make a discovery – a hidden base, a wonder weapon or a traitor. The host of intangible struggles are often more significant such as the dark secret, the family shame, the family curse or the stigma of not being like the other chaps.
Strangely enough for stories about war and battle the killed the dead and the dying are usually absent.
There's a lot to like (and make fun of) among the dramatic titles, fantastic artwork, impossible stories, daring heroes, nasty bad guys, body building and not quite diamond rings advertisements.