Veteran creator Howard Chaykin brought together Jack Kirby’s wartime kid groups for the first time in DC Comics’ Newsboy Legion/Boy Commandos Special this week, but after reading the book I wish he hadn’t.

Chaykin teamed the Newsboy Legion and the Boy Commandos and did a giant disservice to Kirby in the process. Sure, it seemed like a natural fit: twin quartets of boys dedicated to making the world a better place in their own unique ways. However, Chaykin got in the way of making this meeting work as well as it could have.

Readers new to either group will have a hard time figuring out the players without a program, as Chaykin does a terrible job introducing the team members. Longtime readers would have been fine, but a great disservice was done to newcomers by someone who should know better.

Chaykin drew the issue as well, and his pencils in this particular story can best be described as puzzling. He made the kids’ faces look far too similar and the shading on their skin made them look as though their faces were badly scarred. The story plodded along, and when I reached the end I was relieved because I didn’t have to read anymore of it.

The lone saving grace of this book was the backup story, a Kirby-Joe Simon tale of the Newsboy Legion from Star Spangled Comics #27. In this tale, the boys produce their own comic book, using people from their neighbourhood as characters. The four-colour portrayal didn’t go over well with some of the unsavoury neighbourhood members, and the boys find themselves in some dire circumstances. It’s a fun read.

This book is a definite miss for me. Chaykin could have done so much more with these kids, but instead flub his lines so poorly that he produced something completely unreadable.

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