A long lost character from the annals of comics time recently returned to the comic shelves. Airboy, the World War II-era aviator hero whose own origins come from that Golden Age of comics, recently returned – with friends – in the Moonstone one-shot Airfighters. This anthology-style 72-page book features new stories of Airboy, along with other Golden Age era aviators with their own standalone stories.
According to Moonstone publisher Joe Gentile, it comes from a simple love of a good adventure story.
“I enjoy adventure stories,” said Gentile,” and to have that additional relevance of history and how some of that history continues to be played out today is hard to beat for good storytelling possibilities!”
Moonstone’s Airfighters one-shot is a return to the skies for this eclectic group. Airboy, along with characters such as Skywolf, Black Angel, Flying Dutchman, Iron Ace, Bald Eagle and the Flying Fool are in play. Rounding out this cast of air aces is a newly minted character dubbed Captain Midnight for which Moonstone plans more appearances later this year. Each character has it’s own 8 page story, with Airboy taking the lead feature and an extra two pages to boot.
Although the title boasts a full roster of Golden Age characters, for most readers Airboy stands front and center. And the current creator most closely associated with Airboy is writer Chuck Dixon. In the mid-80s, Dixon and a talented group of comic creators produced an Airboy that lasted for fifty issues before the publisher, Eclipse, went under. Dixon, along with creators such as Tim Truman and Todd McFarlane, created stories and put the character back into prominence and cemented their own then-early careers in comics. And now years later, after Dixon has grown in popularity by leaps and bounds from his Airboy days, he returns to the stick for more stories from one of his most beloved childhood characters.
“I had a real affection for these characters long before I ever got to work with them at Eclipse,” revealed Dixon. “I first heard of Airboy and the Air-Fighters in Steranko's comics history. And issues of Airboy were readily available at conventions at reasonable prices. I bought Golden Age issues for as little as three bucks! So, I've always dug the cast and it doesn't take much to get me to come back to them.”
As Dixon stated, Airboy’s origins go back to the fabled Golden Age era of comics --- 1941 to be exact. Airboy debuted in the second issue of a title called Air Fighters Comics as young prodigy and pilot who flew an experimental plane with a brain called “Birdie”. In addition to fighting the Axis powers along with a major of comic heroes of the day, he also hit out against unlikely foes such as intelligent rats and a supernatural creature named Misery who imprisoned the souls of dead pilots in an “Airtomb”. Airboy’s adventures were published for over ten years in his own title, with back-up features showing other characters that made up the informal Airfighters team.
And once again, this group of aviation heroes come back for duty. As Chuck Dixon returns to scripting Airboy with art by Shawn McGaun, Moonstone brought on its own host of creators to pen tales of the other Airfighters. Joining Dixon and McGuan are creators such as Tom DeFalco, Mike Bullock, Chris Mills, Tom Grindberg and more.
“The writers we got are both comic and history buffs,” explained the publisher. “They’re just excited to write these kind of stories andstretch their creative muscles past superhero stuff, but still writing exciting adventure!”
When asked if there’s a big overarching story in the Airboy & The Airfighters one-shot, Dixon shook his head.
“In the best Golden Age tradition, the other teams are running wild with the other characters,” smiled Dixon. “With a property like this its a mistake to rein in anyone to one consistent vision or approach. In the Golden Age, all these characters had very different features. I'm not the kind of guy to tell another creator what to do and the insane stuff these guys have come up with proves that a 'hands off' approach is best.”
Another concern that Dixon waived off is the possibility of re-setting these WW2 era heroes in modern times like some returns to classic characters do.
“All of the stories are vignettes of the part he played in WWII,” explained the writer. “So far I have a story of him bunker-busting at Normandy on D-Day; providing close (REAL close) air support on Omaha Beach. Another story is him in a cat and mouse dogfight with Valkyrie.”
Although released as a one-shot, Moonstone hopes to publish more stories with these characters with Dixon on board.
“Yes, hopefully more of what’s in the one-shot, with some more "origin tales" although there is a couple on the first issue,”said publisher Joe Gentile. “As well as possible one shots featuring each character. And, we hope a couple of “in history” team-ups of all of these guys.. like an Airfighters: Pearl Harbor special and the like!”