The Unknown Soldier #243.

The Unknown Soldier is a hideously-scarred soldier whose head is completely wrapped in bandages. A master of disguise and impersonation, he works as a spy against the Axis forces in World War 2. In Unknown Soldier #243 (September 1980), the faceless warrior is invited up to Restricted Area Alpha in the Shire of Inverness to witness a testing of a new kind of bomb on Loch Ness. The new bomb, it turns out, is the bouncing bomb which has been designed to destroy dams of the German Ruhr valley in order to flood Hitler’s war machine factories. However, when the bomb is tested it is swallowed by what appears to be a sea-monster. Disguised as a retired businessman out fishing, the Unknown Soldier recognizes a German Nazi spy, Emile Vargas, a.k.a. The Vole, by his waddling walk. Following the Vole, the Soldier sees that it was a German submarine disguised to look like the Loch Ness Monster which intercepted the bouncing bomb. A falling stone gives away the Soldier’s presence and the German spies flee, taking the bomb with them.

British Intelligence is concerned that if the German agents get the bomb back to Germany, Nazi scientists will deduce what the bomb is designed to achieve. Disguised as a British pilot, therefore, the Soldier flies over the North Sea and drops another bouncing bomb on a Nazi battle-ship when it is hemmed in by Norwegian fjords. Flak catches the plane and the disguised Soldier parachutes into the sea and is captured. The Vole is informed that it would appear the bouncing bomb has been developed in order to destroy warships in narrow waters. The Vole is not convinced. He suspects his faceless foe the Unknown Soldier is involved in this business.

As previously planned, British planes bomb the prison the Unknown Soldier is being held in so that the faceless warrior is able to escape. He then contacts the Norwegian underground in order to return to Britain as quickly as possible. The Vole meanwhile orders his London-based agents to keep their eyes out for the Unknown Soldier. One of the agents spots a man bandaged like the Soldier and reports back to the Vole that the Soldier is indeed in London. We then learn that the Soldier had recruited a British soldier with bad facial scarring to pretend to be the Unknown Soldier on the streets of London in order to deceive the Vole. 

The Vole is thus persuaded that the Soldier was in London at the time of the incident in Norwegian waters but since he now believes he has learned the address where the Soldier stays when he is in London he decides to pay a visit. Meanwhile, supplied with the Unknown Soldier’s fake London address, British scientist Fiona Mactavish, one of the team who developed the bouncing bomb, is sent by her superior Professor Harris to ask the Soldier how the bomb performed in the fjord. The Vole arrives while she is there and captures her. He proceeds to torture her in order to find out the true purpose of the bouncing bomb.

The Unknown Soldier knows that the Vole is holding Fiona in ‘a certain South American embassy’ in London, but he is told that since the embassy is on foreign soil the British army is not allowed inside. (Actually, embassies are not foreign soil. In any case, the legislation protecting embassies from intrusion by local forces post-dates World War Two. It was drafted at the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. What the Unknown Soldier’s advisor should have said was that invading the embassy of a neutral South American country might cause a diplomatic incident.) An unexploded German bomb is planted in the street outside the embassy which means the embassy building has to be evacuated. The captive Fiona is carried away in a truck which is run off the road by a vehicle driven by a British agent. The Soldier pulls the Vole out of the back of the first truck but the Vole manages to escape. The bouncing bombs successfully destroy the Ruhr dams. Hitler rages and Fiona rewards the Unknown Soldier with a kiss.

There are also two back-up stories. One is an instalment of Dateline: Frontline starring war correspondent Wayne Clifford, drawn by Cuban artist Ric Estrada. The story starts in 1941 when Wayne is brought back to New York because the owner of his newspaper Mr Foster thinks Wayne’s reports on the situation in Europe have been too one-sided. Foster does not want the U.S. to become involved in the war. Disgruntled, Wayne goes for a beer with his old friend and fellow war correspondent Ed Barnes and Ed says maybe Foster is right. It’s no fun, going to war. Then the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour. Wayne is told to write a story about the calamity but his story is pulled, not by Foster this time but by the U.S. government. The country was now on a war footing and newspapers can only print official reports from government sources. Wayne meets Ed in the bar again and says even Pearl Harbour has its good side if it means the U.S. has to enter the war. Ed smashes a glass on the counter then apologises, explaining that his son had died at Pearl Harbour.

Moody art by Ric Estrada.

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