U.S.S. Stevens: Kamikaze
by Sam Glanzman
In America at War: The Best of DC War Comics
Edited by Michael Uslan
Originally appeared in Our
Army at War #235, August 1971 (National Periodical Publications)
Simon and Schuster, 1979, 247 pages
Between 1970 and 1977, Sam Glanzman wrote 65 comic stories of four to five pages
each about the wartime adventures of the American ship USS Stevens. This four-page
comic by Glanzman reveals the thoughts of a Japanese kamikaze pilot as he flies toward
the Allied fleet off Okinawa.
Tatsuno Sakigawa, the kamikaze pilot in the story, believes in bushido,
the samurai code of chivalry. However, the real motive of his attack relates to the March 1945
incendiary bombs that burned Japan's cities and his home. The last frame of the
comic has the following explanation:
Tatsuno Sakigawa died for the emperor ... for country ... for honor! But
mostly ... to avenge the death of his parents! The destruction of his home! The
loss of his own life!
The author commits a big blunder by saying that Sakigawa's family lived on a fishing
junk, since this type of boat is Chinese, not Japanese. The comic also mentions
that kamikaze planes had enough fuel for only a one-way trip, but Kōsaka
(2001, 19-20) explains that this is a myth.
The book contains a wide variety of other comics about World War II and other
wars, including even fictional ones such as "The War That Time
Forgot!," where a PT boat fights against dinosaurs. The comics are divided
into four sections representing decades from the 1940s to the 1970s. Especially
interesting are two
Superman comics from 1943.
Four pages does not give much room for a comic writer to make a point, but
Glanzman briefly gives a possible motive for one kamikaze pilot's attack.
Kōsaka, Jirō. 2001. Tokkōtaiin no inochi no koe ga kikoeru
(Hearing the voices of lives of special attack corps members). Originally
published in 1995. Tōkyō: PHP Kenkyūsho.