Back in April, best-selling author Brad Meltzer and legendary comics artist Jim Lee tapped into the real-life heroics of Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Army Specialist Salvatore Giunta for an 8-page story produced in partnership by the National Medal of Honor Museum and DC Comics. The story, published in the anthology comic book series Our Fighting Forces Giant #1, was co-authored by Giunta Meltzer, who serves on the Museum's board. Announced at New York Comic Con last fall, "Medal of Honor" is an eight-page comic story that begins, seemingly about Batman, but transitions to chronicle the heroic actions that earned Specialist Giunta the highest decoration available to members of the military.
Meltzer and Lee, of course, are a dream team, and have been trying to find excuses to work together for a long time. It was the book's editor who brought the two together in a short, heartfelt tribute to Giunta.
"It was Katie Kubert who gets all the credit," Meltzer told ComicBook.com recently. "She came to me and said, 'Hey, we know the work you do with the USO, and I do a lot of work in travel for the USO. We're doing this comic about war. Any way you can help us do something that's in the more modern era, and that's kind of Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terror era.' And as a board member for the Medal of Honor Museum, I quickly realized, wait a minute...anytime they asked me, I'm always like, 'I'm busy. I can't do this.' But I was like, 'We can actually tell an incredible story here.' And Jim and I have been trying to work together for years. Our schedules just have kind of always been at different times. And I finally said, 'Jim, you want to do this one?' And pitched him the idea for it. And he was like, 'Let's do it.' So, we couldn't ask for better. It truly was the dream team."
The story was originally announced at a Meet the Publishers panel at New York Comic Con, and Lee expressed enthusiasm for the gig.
"It was really a wonderful honor to be able to do that and I hope we’ll be able to do more going forward," Lee said at the time.
Ultimately, the timing was such that the comic ended up being one of DC's first digital-only comics released during the pandemic lockdown, as a result of Diamond Comics Distributors temporarily halting operations.0comments
"We had no idea that Diamond was going to stop shipping comics, and they were going to suddenly take this story and release it as the first digital comic that these people are going to come back with," Meltzer said. "That wasn't a plan. That was all of us just trying to adapt. So, no one did this because we were like, 'Oh, we're going to get the most readers on this.' If I want to do that, then Jim and I should go do some big giant book and launch with a number one. Instead, I think both of us felt like we could do some good in the universe. And my long-term goal is that when the Medal of Honor Museum is finally built, that there will be millions of kids who leave that museum and have a copy of this comic book tucked under their arm, drawn by a guy, some young upstart named Jim Lee, who they've never heard of, and some fool named Meltzer, telling the story of Sal Giunta and his incredible day risking his life in one of the great tragedies."
You an pick up Our Fighting Forces 100-Page Giant #1 on ComiXology or at Walmart. Meltzer also has a new nonfiction book, The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America's 16th President--and Why It Failed, which you can get at any bookstore that's open.