GASPAR SALADINO in THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

All images © DC Comics. From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #208, Oct 1977

This character, a World War Two intelligence agent with a badly disfigured face that he usually wraps in bandages (except when going in disguise) first appeared in OUR ARMY AT WAR in 1966. He moved to STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES, where he was popular and gradually took over the lead and cover. In 1977, with issue #205, that book was renamed for him, and went on for another 64 issues until 1982. Gaspar Saladino lettered many of the covers and a few stories inside. His first cover, above, has standard lettering and open display lettering that help tell the story.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #210, Dec 1977

This cover illustrates the kind of moral dilemmas the character faces when he disguises himself as one of the enemy. I like the thought balloon.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #215, May 1978

More great thought balloons on this cover, and artist Joe Kubert could make any situation seem real.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #216, June 1978

The series was, of course, inspired by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, and the story ties to that in some issues, as here.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #220, Oct 1978

Gaspar’s dynamic burst on the left side of this cover adds excitement.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #227, May 1979

Unlike typical soldiers such as Sgt. Rock, this character worked behind the scenes and often behind enemy lines, a unique approach that readers liked.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #234, Dec 1979

Much of the conflict in these stories and covers was moral and mental, as here. The round blurb by Gaspar is rare for him.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #245, Nov 1980

Despite the general decline in interest in war comics, this one kept selling, and well enough to maintain a monthly schedule. The “DC Implosion” that ended many such comics at DC couldn’t slow this one down. Perhaps it had a Cold War appeal.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #248, Feb 1981

Or maybe it was the mystery of the title character’s identity that kept readers coming back, this cover plays to that, and Saladino did real and faked lettering on the file document.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #251, May 1981

With few other places to showcase them, stars of former DC war titles, like Enemy Ace, appeared in this one as backups or second features. Lots of variety and energy in Saladino’s lettering here.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #261, March 1982

But perhaps sales were falling by this time, as the creators turn to a demon to add interest.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #267, Sept 1982

The large Saladino blurb on this cover predicts the death of the main character. The book itself would end with the following issue. Perhaps the success of superheroes did it in. DC tried reviving the character several times in later years, but those efforts didn’t last long.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #210, Dec 1977

Saladino didn’t letter many stories for the book, this is one where writer (and his former editor) Robert Kanigher probably asked for him. Someone else added the credits.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #224, Feb 1979

This is the only lead story lettered by Gaspar, many were produced and lettered in the Phillippines. The treatment of VALHALLA is terrific.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #249, March 1981

Gaspar lettered some backup features toward the end of the run that might have been originally done for other war titles that were cancelled. Both the character logo and title on this one are creative and appealing.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #265, July 1982

This feature is one Saladino had been lettering in OUR FIGHTING FORCES, and was probably left over from there.

From THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #267, Sept 1982

This character had been the lead in ALL-OUT WAR, and again this story may have been left over when that book was canceled.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these covers: 208, 210, 215, 220-221, 227-228, 231, 234, 239-241, 243-253, 255-263, 265-268. That’s a total of 36. Below are the details of his story lettering.

#210 Dec 1977: The Gun That Changed the War 5pp

#224 Feb 1979: Unknown Soldier 13pp

#249 March 1981: Mademoiselle Marie 8pp

#265 July 1982: The Losers 8pp

#266 Aug 1982: Viking Commando 8pp

#267 Sept 1982: Viking Commando 8pp

Thats 50 pages in all. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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