The curious evolution of “The Haunted Tank”

Posted on February 4, 2009 by

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In my mid-elementary school years in the 70s, I went through a couple years with an intense interest in WW2 comic books. Ranking at the top of my list of favorites in the G.I. Combat series was The Haunted Tank. For those who need to have their memory refreshed, the “haunted” element of The Haunted Tank was none other than the ghost of J.E.B. Stuart. It seems ol’ JEB had been tapped by the ghost of Alexander the Great to act as a guardian over his two namesakes, Lieutenant Jeb Stuart (named in the early stories as Jeb Stuart Smith, but eventually just shortened to Jeb Stuart) and the Light Tank M3 Stuart that Jeb commanded. To get those childhood memory cogs rolling, you can read a bit more on this page at Wikipedia.

Well, a week or so ago, I was surfing around the Web and happened upon (don’t ask me how) a site that mentioned bringing The Haunted Tank back from the grave. The new publisher, Vertigo, took a bit of a twist on the old story and changed the storyline to focus on an M1 Abrams in Iraq at the onset of the invasion in 2003. But that isn’t the biggest shocker. Frank Marraffino, the writer of the re-done comic book, commented that JEB’s ghost, “no longer satisfied with only being a cryptic Caucasian Confucius… now takes a more active role but the frightful efforts of this plantation-raised, slave-owning, defender of the Confederacy are not entirely welcome by the black tank commander whose name is… Jamal Stuart.”

[Huh!? O.k. Frank, I'm detecting a little sensationalism tainting your knowledge of history, but go on...]

“When I heard word from Brandon Montclare that Haunted Tank was fair game at Vertigo, it was immediately obvious that it should be set in Iraq and that the lead protagonist would behave more than a little superciliously towards the Haunter in Whiteness. The sparks would fly, drive and maybe even snorkel.”

Whew! Talk about a total change-up from the old story! But that still ain’t it! Take a look at the image below… Stuart looks wayyyy cooler than he did in the 70s, let me tell you! Hey Harry; now, this, THIS(!) is Civil War art at its FINEST!

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