By Koppy McFad
January 9, 2009 - 03:01
Sgt. Rock, DC Comic's premier war hero, is trapped behind enemy lines in World War II as an overwhelming force of elite German troops close in on them.
The Germans have superior numbers, Tiger tanks and bad weather on their side while Easy Company must fight on without food and with dwindling amounts of ammunition. The US army is trying to rush reinforcements to help them but the Germans have planned for this and swiftly ambush the Americans. To make matters worse, a German sniper starts picking off Easy Company's men.
Based on real life events, this issue has a believable depiction of men in combat. There is little gung-ho bravado from the Americans or slavering sadism from the Germans. Just determined professionalism from both sides. The two opposing forces are depicted without any editorialising to the point that a stranger to world history might be unable to tell which ones are the good guys.
The story is livened up with the presence of the Haunted Tank and by the narration of a war correspondent called "Kilroy." While the plight of the Americans is dire, the story doesn't overplay the melodrama so there are no tearful, sappy death scenes.
But the story's focus also wavers a lot. A Southern soldier makes a remark, confusing the Germans with the Mexicans -- a line which just draws attention to itself as though the writer was trying to insert a contemporary issue to a World War II story. A French soldier suddenly mentions all the Vichy French who joined the Nazis, but nothing is done about this. Jeb Stuart's name is changed to Jeb Stuart Smith-- for seemingly no reason. This all just uses up space and dialogue that could go to building up the main story.
The art has a grittiness and humanity that makes the confusion of war more palpable. But it also makes it hard to tell Easy Company's men apart. Even Sgt. Rock is recognisable mainly from his helmet with the sergeant's stripes on it. Joe Kubert, Russ Heath and George Evans never had trouble making Rock stand out, even in the dirtiest and grimiest situations.
Rating: 8 /10