Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Classics - Our Army At War #203

It's easy to kick yourself over comics you missed.

Recently I talked about how, as a youngster, I bought precious few western comics.

Same story for war comics.

I did pick up a few issues of Sgt. Fury, and my brothers had a few issues of Sgt. Rock - and that was about it.

Big mistake, as this issue clearly demonstrates.

Published in 1969, this "80 Page Giant" (for a quarter!) is actually a collection of classic stories, and a celebration of some of the finest artists who worked on DC's comics.

The stories were all written by Bob Kanigher - not one of my favorite writers, but he did his best work in war comics. The first story is a classic Sgt. Rock story as illustrated by living legend Joe Kubert, and this story is a good example of why he's so revered. It's loaded with amazing action, numerous splash panels and intense emotions, all in service of a story about Easy Company learning whether or not it can survive without Rock.

The second story is by one of the few artists who belong in the same ranks as Kubert - Russ Heath, who illustrates a Haunted Tank story. It's the gimmick-laden tale of how Jeb Stuart discovers a previously-hidden ability to sense where the next attack is coming from, but Heath gives it amazing depth and detail - never anything less than stunning work.

None of this is to take away from the other two artists included - Mort Drucker, who would achieve greater fame for his comedic work, provides a fun story of Mlle. Marie taking on the Nazis, and workhorse Irving Novick crafts stories for Jonny Cloud and the team known as Gunner, Sarge and Pooch, and as always, he turns in excellent work.

DC's war stories could run the range (as this issue shows) from intense combat to silly morality tales, but their batting average was high, and most issues provided lots of entertainment and some terrific art.

I just wish I'd picked up more of them back when they were easier to track down.

Grade: A-


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