DC, Marvel Artists Create Graphic Novel About the Only Female Medal of Honor Recipient

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Cover art for Medal of Honor: Mary Walker.
The Association of the United States Army has released the latest entry in the Medal of Honor graphic novel series: Medal of Honor: Mary Walker. (Courtesy of the Association of the United States Army)

The latest graphic novel presented by the Association of the United States Army is all about Mary Walker, the U.S. military's first -- and only -- female recipient of the Medal of Honor.

The graphic novel, part of a Medal of Honor series produced by AUSA, was created in collaboration with some of the top comic book writers and artists in the field, including Chuck Dixon, who has worked on Marvel's "The Punisher" and other projects; Peter Pantazis, a Marvel colorist; Karl Moline, an artist who has worked on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fray comics; and Troy Peteri, an award-winning letterer.

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"The AUSA Book Program works with publishing partners to produce military titles that foster an understanding of, and appreciation for, the U.S. Army and its role in national defense," Joseph Craig, director of the AUSA Book Program, told Military.com. "We work with university presses and trade publishers on biographies, military histories and books devoted to Soldiers' issues."

Craig said each story in AUSA's series is carefully vetted by historians and scholars to make sure we present the details as accurately as possible.

"We have received an overwhelmingly positive response from readers," he said, noting the books are distributed free of charge. "It is particularly satisfying to see ROTC cadets and young Soldiers enjoying the work."

Dixon, who wrote the text of the new graphic novel, said he learned about a new piece of history in the process.

"It surprised me that, despite reading a lot of books on the American Civil War, I had never heard the story of Mary Walker, a woman of courage and well ahead of her time," said Chuck Dixon, the scriptwriter of Medal of Honor: Mary Walker. "I appreciate the chance to make the life of America's only female Medal of Honor winner known to a larger audience. Including me!"

Mary Walker was one of the first women to earn a medical degree in the United States, and served as a surgeon for the U.S. Army during the Civil War. She also used her medical skills to treat civilians on both sides of the conflict. In one of her trips across enemy lines, she was captured by the Confederate Army and imprisoned in Castle Thunder Prison Camp in 1864. Several months later, she was released in a prisoner exchange and received a contract as an "acting assistant surgeon" with the U.S. Army.

In 1865, President Andrew Johnson awarded Mary Walker the Medal of Honor in recognition of her courageous war efforts, though her career and gender meant the move was a significant break with tradition.

The U.S. government withdrew Walker's medal in 1917 after determining she was ineligible because she was a civilian not a uniformed service member. Nevertheless, she refused to return the medal and continued to wear it. In 1977, Mary Walker's Medal of Honor was posthumously restored by President Jimmy Carter. She spoke out for women's rights and refused to be restricted by her gender throughout her life.

"Walker's actions in life are an inspiration to me. With many forces against her telling her she did not belong, she rose up to the challenge and became a leader as well as a healer," said Peter Pantazis. "Having been the colorist for each Medal of Honor comic, every one holds a special place in my heart."

According to AUSA, the next issue about Tibor Rubin, the Holocaust survivor who moved to America and later fought in Korea, will be released soon.

"This is a very rewarding project to work on," Craig said. "The stories of the Medal of Honor recipients are inspiring, and we have been fortunate to work with a top-notch creative team to help bring them to life."

-- Bing Xiao can be reached at bingxiao2020@u.northwestern.edu.

Related: New Graphic Novels Honor Medal of Honor Recipients

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