Buck Danny is a French-Belgian comic book series created by Jean-Michel Charlier and Victor Hubinon (also the creators of Barbe Rouge). The title character is a pilot in the US Air Force (when he isn't assigned to the US Navy); he has two sidekicks, Jerry Tumbler and Sonny Tuckson.Together they first get to fight the Japanese in WW2, first as regular fighter pilots, and then as part of General Chennault's Flying Tigers in China. They go their separate ways after the end of the war but quickly reunite and become civilian pilots for a shady Middle Eastern company. They decide to re-enlist in the Air Force, become test pilots for the new generations of jet aircraft, and in 1950 are sent on the Korean front.After The Korean War, they have various adventures from Alaska to Malaysia, and earn a recurring Arch-Enemy, the spy-for-hire Lady X. In the 1960s and early 1970s, rather than being deployed in The Vietnam War, they fly on the Blue Angels acrobatic team and fight a drug cartel in South-East Asia.The series is notable for its realistic depiction of aircraft, even as the stories themselves are pure fiction.
Contains examples of:
Ace Pilot: All three characters, and others beside.
The Ace: Buck is a better pilot, soldier, leader, etc. than any other character in the series.
An Aesop: In "Le Pilote au masque de cuir". Racism is bad, mmkay?
Amazon Brigade: The Soviet acrobatics team is all-female. Naturally, Sonny is the first to find out and is soundly told off for expressing surprise at the idea.
Banana Republic: "Alerte Atomique" and "L'escadrille de la mort" take place in a fictional Latin American country where insurgents and government forces are fighting it out. And in "Alerte à Cap Kennedy", the villains are from the fictional Caribbean country of Managua.
Bling of War: Played with in "Alerte en Malaisie": Sonny is tricked into wearing a ridiculously over-the-top uniform, believing it's the official gear for air force officers in the country they're being sent to.
Blondes are Evil: Lady X is a blonde. Later on, however, she dyes her hair black.
Break Out the Museum Piece: In "Patrouille à l'Aube", Buck, Tumbler and Sonny use a WW2-vintage Avenger plane found in a scrapyard in order to locate the wreck of a submarine.
Buzz Job: In one episode set during the Korean War, a South Korean pilot does this upside down in full view of senior officers before landing safely but walking drunkenly, to the concern of his friends in the American squadron. It turns out the North Koreans are holding his family hostage, and have threatened to kill them if he doesn't obey their orders. He pulled the stunt so as to be barred from flying , but the spies figure out his plan and force him to betray the Americans. As usual for the series, it ends with Redemption Equals Death.
Comic Book Time: The characters join the US Air Force in 1941, and as of the 1990s were still young enough to be fighter pilots. The suspension of disbelief is all the harder as the characters get to meet US presidents Kennedy and later Reagan, without having aged in the meantime. The only thing that changes is the characters' ranks (and even then, they won't go ghigher than Colonel).
Coming In Hot: Happens about a dozen times throughout the series.
Cross Over: In one episode, the characters meet Tanguy and Laverdure, who are themselves the leading characters of a different series, also written by J-M. Charlier (and where Buck Danny also appears in an episode - the characters reference this).
Dirty Communists: Those make repeated appearances in the adventures taking place in The Fifties, starting with "Pilotes d'essai". Later on, the series dropped overt ideological references for its villains.
Dodge by Braking: A Soviet pilot in a Mig-29 pulls the stunt against both Buck Danny and Sonny Tuckson—twice—in "Les Agresseurs".
Don't Explain the Joke: On seeing Sonny show up on deck with five fishing rods, two boxes full of bait and a fisherman's hat, this exchange occurs between Buck and Tumbler:
Is he going fishing, do you think? No, he's going fishing! Huh! I could've sworn he was going fishing.
Everything's Better with Penguins: While the characters are assigned to a secret base in Alaska, Sonny spots what he thinks is a group of trespassers. When soldiers are sent to arrest them, they turn out to be penguins. Out of spite for being called out on his stupid mistake, Sonny adopts the one they bring back.
The General's Daughter: Subverted in "Mission Apocalypse", in which Sonny is asked to wine and dine the admiral's daughter, who turns out to be a pushy, overbearing and grossly overweight woman.
Hoist by His Own Petard: an enemy pilot in neutral territory challenges Buck to an acrobatics duel: each must copy the preceding set of stunts and add one himself (the pilot had sabotaged Buck's jet so it would crash from the stress). Having figured out the plot, Buck accepts on one condition... that they exchange planes. The pilot, strangely enough, forfeits then and there.
Holiday in Cambodia: The Asian countries where the characters go are typically war-torn or, at best, lawless.
Hollywood Mirage: Tumbler has one while stranded in the Arabian desert (though at that point it was bordering on hallucinations caused by thirst). Sonny has a somewhat more realistic one while in an Air Force base in the southwestern US, when he spots what he believes to be a natural lake in the distance, which turns out to be reflected sky.
Interservice Rivalry: One story memorably has Buck (who's in the Navy) adamantly refuse to let the Air Force's acrobatics team take their place at an air show due to a pilot being unable to fly.
Island Base: One of Lady X's bases is inside a volcano on a remote island in the Pacific. There are even smoke generators to fool the odd observer into thinking the volcano is still active. This actually works against them: Buck sees the smoke, and is ordered to get some pictures to send to the seismologists. When he goes closer, he realizes it's a decoy.
The Klutz: Sonny is particularly prone to klutzy behavior when off-duty (and even on non-combat duty as well).
The Korean War: Depicted in a two-album story arc, "Ciel de Corée" and "Avions sans pilotes".
Redemption Equals Death: Several stories have one character on the squadron be blackmailed into giving up information (usually by threatening his family). The truth always comes out in the end, but the pilot never makes it back (and Buck, Tumbler and Sonny never reveal this to the pilot's family).
La Résistance: The characters get to fight alongside Chinese partisans against the Japanese.
Robotic Reveal: a variation, when Buck discovers that the mysterious Ace Pilot codenamed "Ivan" are actually remote-controlled missiles (this was in the Korean war).
The Shangri-La: "Top Secret" and "Mission dans la vallée perdue" take place in a remote Tibetan valley where a rocket scientist is being held prisoner by a Buddhist sect.
Schematized Prop: The early albums frequently featured schematics and technical data of the aircraft depicted in the stories.
Shown Their Work: The authors started out as pilots for the Belgian company Sabena and made sure to get the technical stuff right.