Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Free Comic Book Download - Atomic War #1 1952 For Your Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaigns

Grab It Right Over
Atomic War #1 is from 1952 and its part of a tradition of exploitative atomic war comics from the Fifties. With the paranoia of the Cold War just starting to get into full swing, this comic book really taps the exploitation vein quite hard. The artwork is typical of the period and very well done.
  Atomic War lasted just four issues but man these were very well crafted comics. Wiki has a bit more to say about Ace and this short series : 
A comic series that lasted four issues and published by Ace Comics from November, 1952 to February, 1953. According to Bradford W. Wright, in Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America (ISBN: 0801874505)

“Published during the time of U.S. participation in the Korean War, Junior Books’ Atomic War! Speculated on the possibilities of World War III. Despite the series’ stated purpose to warn against the horrors of atomic warfare, it did just the opposite. In its stories, U.S. forces employing tactical and strategic nuclear weapons triumphed repeatedly over the Communists.”
According to Scott Shaw at Oddball Comics: “This is one of many comics that reflected our national paranoia during the Cold War of the 1950s and early 1960s. The cover depicts the atomic destruction of Manhattan (note the crumbling Empire State and Chrysler Buildings.) Here's a quote from the issue's first story, "Sneak Attack."
"Look upon the pictures of our giant cities hundred of years in the building, smashed by the atom-bomb, and say: this shall not come to pass! More than ever today, only a strong America can prevent this from becoming a reality!"
Ace Comics was a publisher of comic books during the 1940's through mid-1950's. Like many comic book publishers of the day, the earlier series included costumed superheroes. As trends in the comic book market changed, the focus shifted more to other genres, such as crime horror and romance. The company ceased publishing comic books in 1956.
These comics are in the public domain and various publishers and creators have used them since.
Using Atomic War #1  For 
Your Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaigns

You wouldn't think that exploitative comics from the 1950's could possibly be used as fodder for an old school post holocaust rpg ala Gamma World or Mutant Future. Actually these comics are perfect for doing exactly that. The stories here have a few things going for them : they're very well detailed, all of the weapons and military hardware is fifties era, they follow a very detailed chronology of events, and the comic series builds upon itself in each issue.
Given these details its easy to see how this comic book could be the basis for the end for a game of  Mutant Future or the like. The other thing about Fifties era Atomic exploitative comics is that they're not that well known today. They've become nothing more then a patriotic speed bump in comic book history
Many of the ideas here would later be exploited by video games such as the Fallout series and other retro future style video games. And that's one of the keys to using this series. Simply up the level of technology, add in a few bits of tragic history(as if nuclear war wasn't enough) and your ready to go into the 'Shadow Years' of your retro future post apocalyptic campaign.
Many of the events described in this comic have become the basis for a few adventures on an alternative Earth in a Gamma World game I ran in college back in the 90's. Atomic War has had a few reprints over the years by independent comic book companies over the years. Many of the nuclear weapons seen in this issue have been the objects of 'quests' for my mutant PC's a few times. The world of Atomic War is quite horrid in its own special way and remember if your going to adventure here keep your Rad Away handy! 

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