Things were looking good for Johnny Cloud, the Navajo fighting ace, at the start of the period 1964 – 1967: the New Look. His Kanigher and Novick battle tales continued to hold the cover spot in All-American Men of War, graduating to book-length adventures. He even acquired a romantic interest along the way, Running Deer. But then his appearances abruptly became sporadic, and with the book’s cancellation, Johnny Cloud got grounded.
Johnny Cloud gets a romantic interest in his book length story in All American Men of War 107. A recurring feature of Johnny Cloud’s tales were flashback scenes to his youth on the reservation, events which would come to mind to aid him in his battles against the Nazis. Because this full length story has the room to do so, we get a longer flashback montage of Johnny Cloud and Running Deer, growing up together on the reservation and falling in love. He left to join the army, and Running Deer had as well. For her troubles, she has been kidnapped by the Nazis.
There is a special Nazi “magnet plane” in this story, which guides the pilots to their targets. Johnny’s target, on the other hand, is a Nazi rocket base. The Happy Braves believe they have destroyed it, but in fact the one they bombed was a fake. Johnny rescues Running Deer and steals a magnet plane. Using the magnet plane to direct the other German flyers, he manages to get the Nazi pilots to bomb their own rocket base. Running Deer sticks around, becoming a nurse, and a regular supporting cast member.
Johnny’s prominence in the book changed drastically with issue 111. He did not have the cover spot, and had to share the issue with two other stories, instead of just one. Still, the story comes close to introducing a recurring villain. At least, the character had that potential. Johnny winds up in a dogfight against a German pilot named Eric, who had happened to be part of a group of German tourists who visited the reservation Johnny grew up in, just before the war began. Eric tried to prove his racial superiority to Johnny in a number of matches, culminating in an almost-fatal game of tag. Now in the air on opposite sides, the pilots continue their game, “tagging” each other and opposing aircraft as well. Eric’s death at the end of the tale is a bit nebulous, and could easily have been undone, but that didn’t happen. Indeed, things were not looking good for Johnny Cloud at this point, as his series went into hiatus for a few months.
Johnny Cloud returns to the pages of All American Men of War with issue 115. Running Deer is back as well, and stationed close enough to Cloud that they can carry on a hot romance when he is not off flying missions. They spend some time in a bombed out London in this story. Their love affair is marred by some stress and self doubt that Johnny is harbouring after an intense dogfight. Tex gets shot down and wounded. Johnny comes across him as he heads back to base, rescues his friend and kills the invading Nazis. But this is also Running Deer’s final appearance, and as far as I can tell, she is never even mentioned again. Considering how long they have cared for each other, despite time and distance, I think that Running Deer likely perished in the blitz of London, rather than the two just parting ways.
Johnny Cloud stars in the final issue of All American Men of War, issue 117. Kanigher and Novick conclude Johnny Cloud’s run with a story that has him fighting against a rival family. Many years earlier, Standing Bear challenged Johnny’s father for leadership of the tribe. Standing Bear lost, and left in disgrace, with his son, Wolf Fang, vowing revenge. When Wolf Fang learned that Johnny had joined the military, he went and joined the Nazis, to become a flyer, in hopes of facing off against him. And that is what comes to pass in this story. Wolf Fang’s desire for personal vengeance overrides any strategic concerns. Wolf Fang shoots down another Nazi pilot who is about to kill Johnny, just to that Wolf Fang can get him himself. Both Johnny and Wolf Fang wind up crashing into the ocean, and Wolf Fang drowns. Not a bad story to finish off the run on.
After a year in which Johnny made some guest appearances in other series, he returned for another outing, this time in the pages of G.I. Combat 124. It's a full twelve page tale, by Kanigher and Novick, which includes cameos of the Happy Braves, who he flies with, and some flashbacks to his childhood, both frequent elements of his former ongoing series. The story has Johnny leading his squadron against German flyers lead by the Hammer (not Hans Von). Johnny Cloud winds up shooting down the Hammer's little brother, and the Nazi vows revenge. The Happy Braves also gain a new pilot, a young guy named Henry Short. He's a bit of a problem, and people treat him like he's a kid. Of course, Henry becomes the target for the Hammer. The Hammer does shoot Short's plane, but the boy manages to survive and gains the respect of the men. In the meantime, Johnny Cloud shoots down the Hammer.
Johnny Cloud: All-American Men of War 103 – 111, 115, 117 (May/June 1964 – Sept/Oct 1965, May/June 1966, Sept/Oct 1966)
G.I. Combat 124 (Jne/July 1967)