The TNT Trio was a war series that ran briefly in G. I. Combat during the period 1960 – 1964: the Silver Age. The three men who comprised the Trio were barely defined characters. While this worked in the Gunner and Sarge series, at least those two had contrasting status to play off of. Here, the men looked different, but were all of the same rank, and had pretty much interchangeable personalities.
Big Al, Little Al and Cigar Charlie, who would come to be known as the TNT Trio, make their debut in a story by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito in GI Combat 83. The story has the trio arriving as reinforcements on a Pacific island. It appears to them that all the other soldiers they encounter are too tired to fight, hence the title of the story.
They deal with attacks on their landing craft by a Japanese ship, and attacks from the air as they spend their first night on the beach. Then they move inland, and deal with the Japanese soldiers.
By the time more reinforcements arrive, the trio is also tired. But not too tired to fight! Yeah, ok. The story makes use of quasi-Japanese lettering for the shouts of the Japanese soldiers.
The TNT Trio, Big Al, Little Al and Cigar Charlie, are back in the following issue. This time they are actually called by their team name. The cover and narration both insist that the Trio has returned by popular request, although there would not possibly have been time between last issue and this one for that to actually happen. In this tale, the Trio are part of Dog Company. All the other soldiers in their battalion have been wiped out, except for the lieutenant in charge, who has sort of lost his mind. Shell shock and all that. He cannot accept that he has lost virtually all his men.
So it's left to the TNT Trio to do all the fighting against a seemingly endless wave of Japanese soldiers. But the three men hold their position until reinforcements arrive. Incidentally, aside from one being tall, one being short, and one having a cigar, there is little to distinguish the personalities of the three men.
The TNT Trio are back for a third appearance in G.I. Combat 85 and this time the name for the group is also the title of the story itself. Each of the team's tales so far has been longer than the previous ones, and this one comes in at 18 pages. While it gives more of an opportunity to showcase the characters, they still lack much in the way of defining personalities. As usual, the TNT Trio are in the Pacific, fighting the Japanese.
The story contains a running gag of Cigar Charlie constantly having his cigars getting damaged as he fights the enemy soldiers. Little Al is given the assignment to scout ahead and find out what the secret weapon is that the Japanese are working on. Cigar Charlie and Big Al decide to go along with him. But Little Al's diminutive size proves helpful to him, as he is able to avoid a pair of tanks by squeezing into a pipe. From inside it, he is able to get close enough to take out the two enemy tanks.
Big Al also gets to play the hero because of his height, being tall enough to jump a river that the others cannot. So it comes down to Cigar Charlie to be the one to find and destroy the Japanese rocket base, although once again he loses his cigar while doing so.
The TNT Trio end their run in GI Combat 88 with a brief story. The trio are sent on patrol and specifically told not to dig in. Then they get bombarded and buried in sand. While trapped, Big Al, Little Al and Cigar Charlie still manage to take out a plane and a tank. The rest of Dog Company eventually show up, and wonder why they dug in against orders. I hope the guys didn't get in too much trouble!
The TNT Trio return three years down the road as supporting characters in a Gunner and Sarge story in Our Fighting Forces, but would never get their own strip again.