The DC War Comics
by Corporals Enfantino and Seabrook
Jack: The Johnny Cloud series was squarely in the middle of the DC War Comics series for me. Sgt. Rock and Enemy Ace take the top slots, and the War That Time Forgot is at the bottom, along with some of the short-lived series like Steve Savage, Balloon Buster, and Captain Hunter (what, no love for Gunner, Sarge, and Pooch? -PE). Novick's art is always serviceable but never hits the heights that Kubert and Heath reach, but it's rarely as annoying as what we've seen from Andru and Esposito or Grandenetti. I'll be looking forward to Johnny Cloud's return but I'm not in a hurry.
"A Slug for a Sergeant!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Russ Heath
"Have Bazooka--Will Travel!"
Story by France Herron
Art by Russ Heath
(Reprinted from G.I. Combat 59, April 1958)
Jack: Sgt. Rock engages in a duel with a Nazi sergeant, who shoots him and then approaches for a point blank kill shot. Rock thinks back to how it all started when Easy Co. was surprised by an attack from a Nazi plane. Olson and Goldstein were killed before the plane was shot down. Rock and his men moved on into a forest, where they witnessed the Haunted Tank battling with a bazooka-wielding Nazi. The men of Easy Co. got into a fistfight with Nazi soldiers, but Rock was knocked out and captured when the rest of his men were off saving the tank.
The Nazis wanted Rock to offer to exchange himself for Sgt. Schlum, who had been captured by the Americans. Though Rock ordered them not to make a deal, his men disobeyed and met the Nazis for a prisoner swap. Sgt. Schlum was insulted that he would be traded for Sgt. Rock and started trading punches; when that ended in a draw, a duel was the next step. Schlum approaches Rock to finish him off but suddenly keels over dead, in a delayed reaction to having been shot.
I'm sorry, but without Joe Kubert drawing it, Sgt. Rock just does not work. Heath provides some nice panels, but he can't touch Kubert here. The second story is a reprint from 1958 and, once again, the script is sparse but Heath's art is solid, probably better than his new work on the lead story.
Peter: Russ Heath is my favorite DC war artist but Rock minus Kubert is jarring. The pictures are still breath-taking but Rock just doesn't look like Rock to me. The script is the best the Sarge has gotten in years, though. These two men would love nothing more than to kill each other but, in the end, there will always be the respect. "Have Bazooka" is an entertaining little slice of G.I. life, with our second jolt of Heath in one issue. Life is good.
"The Tunnels of Death!"
Story by Howard Liss
Art by Jack Abel
"No Hill for Easy!"
Story by Bob Haney
Art by Jerry Grandenetti
(Reprinted from G.I. Combat 58, March 1958)
Jack: Capt. Hunter has a vivid dream of rescuing his brother Phil and awakens to engage in some action with the Viet Cong. He promises a dying American paratrooper to look for Viet Cong underground tunnels and, with Lu Lin's help, discovers an underground hiding place for enemy armaments. After seeing that a canal passes above "The Tunnels of Death!" he is able to blow a hole in the canal bed and flood the tunnels below, destroying everything inside.
This story includes a lot of fighting and a big explosion, but nothing moves forward in Hunter's quest to find his brother. Like Richard Kimble before him and Kwai Chang Caine after him, he keeps getting sidetracked and never seems to move closer to his objective. At least he doesn't spend any panels kissing Lu Lin this time around.
In WWII, Easy Co. envies the other companies because they have not taken a hill. After some hard fighting, they finally take one, but it turns out to be a sand dune and blows away, leaving "No Hill for Easy!" Seeing Jerry Grandenetti's work again reminds me how much I don't miss it.
|Lu Lin seems to be in no hurry to get back to her village!|
A Special Double-Sized Issue
as we say "So Long" to 1951
with our Picks of the Best EC Stories of the Year!