The postwar-era Defense Department comic Kerry Drake in the Case of the Sleeping City featured Kerry Drake, a detective from a well-circulated syndicated comic. This piece stressed the importance of civic duty to servicemen, and to encourage them to take the skills, training, and morality acquired in the service to lead the nation forward at all levels of government. This comic differed from some other pieces that place social ascendancy upon men for earning a living and supporting their family financially. Instead, this supported the idea that military provides ascendancy through male leadership, which begins as a role as driving force in the home, and continues through the levels of government.
In the story, two young brothers on leave from the Army and the Navy learn that the local government in their hometown of Norville is completely corrupt, having fallen prey to a politician who answers to a shadowy building materials salesman. The town is seemingly apathetic, but the young men contact Kerry Drake, a friend of their father and former Norville resident.[^] Drake soon moves in and begins talking tough, blaming the ”…evil that exists in Norville” on the indifference of the citizens.[^] Even though the young men feel powerless, Drake single-handedly battles on in the face of resistance. He keeps moving up the legal and judicial chain, until he is appointed special prosecutor by the governor, and begins clearing up the corruption.[^] Before he leaves Norville, he delivers another of his speeches, denouncing civic apathy and indifference, and encouraging the citizens to ensure that this corruption does not creep into town again.[^]
The story ends with a monologue from the young sailor, saying: “Teamwork paid off in Norville. Without help from the townspeople, Kerry Drake would have been powerless. It took the combined action of many people to clean out their city and re-establish good government.”[^] This statement, however, does not exactly reflect the true arc of the story. The citizens of Norville expressed an inability to fight back against corruption because of intimidation, and even the brothers gave up hope at one point.[^] It took Kerry Drake’s effort to put himself in a position of power above and beyond that of the corrupt city officials to get anything done. This line at the end, twisting a story of individual heroism into a story of teamwork, is reflective of the individual masculinity available within constraining groups.
The soldier’s monologue at the end continued to reinforce this concept: “Teamwork pays off big in the armed forces, too. Servicemen realize that group action is essential to success! Every member of the military team has a job that must be done, and done well, if the team is to win. Combined teamwork of civilians and servicemen alike keeps our nation strong and free.”[^] One’s individual efforts and courage exhibit leadership and, when done in conjunction with similar efforts from others, can contribute to the greater good. Aaron Belkin argued, in Bring Me Men, that individual actions and efforts were often highlighted in military discourse to smooth over the contradictory nature of limited freedom that comes with military service.[^] Kerry Drake’s heroism and highlight and celebrated, but remains attributed to the team effort, and is shown to advance the collective good. By wedging Kerry’s arc into this format, the story illustrated that a man’s individual efforts contribute to the greater good, and are admirable because of it. This message, combined with the piece’s inclusion in a Citizenship Booklet given to soldiers re-entering civilian life, gives a clear indication not only that military service crafts men into civic leaders, but also that these soldiers have a special duty to serve their communities in leadership roles.