Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Our Army at War #224

Our Army at War #224 (On Sale: August 4, 1970) has a standard cover by Joe Kubert.

This book has belonged to Sgt Rock and Joe Kubert for years. It is amazing that it will take DC almost 80 more issues before they officially change the name of the book to Sgt. Rock. Of all the "auteur" editors Carmine Infantino installed at DC, none came close to the success that Kubert found.

For more than a decade he had been the face of DC war books and in his role as editor, nothing much changed there, except that he started writing stories instead of relying on Robert Kanigher. Kubert's run as the maestro of DC war comics is unprecedented in its length and breadth. From Sgt Rock to Balloon Buster to The Haunted Tank to the Unknown Soldier to Enemy Ace they all were improved if not conceived visually by Joe Kubert.

In  "One for the Money..."  Joe Kubert writes and draws a 14-page Sgt. Rock story about a new member of Easy Company, "Trader" Johnson. One of the things Kubert was so good at was creating a full-blown character in just a few panels. Look at the first page of this story. You know almost all you need to know about "Trader" in six panels.  "Trader" was part of a five-man recon squad with Rock checking out a town ahead of Easy Co., when they run into a Nazi sniper nest.  A couple of grenades take out the nest and "Trader" starts going through the remains looking for souvenirs.

"Traders'" scavenging ways bothers Rock and he tells him so, but Johnson counters that he is just a businessman and plans on having enough money put aside by the end of the war to go into a legitimate business. The argument is interrupted when Rock sees a German convoy coming over the hill and heading for the town.

From their hidden position "Trader" admires the sleek German staff car as the soldiers march into the city. The Germans know that someone took out their sniper nest and that they may still be in town, they also know that Easy is approaching, so while they hide their vehicles and set up a trap for Easy they also search the town.

Rock says they need to do something so easy doesn't walk into a trap, but "Trader" want to lay low, "What good would it do for Easy...if we commit suicide?" Rock tells him to "Shut up!" Johnson goes into a quiet rant of why he is just as good as Easy and just as deserving, but it is interrupted when a German officer extols the hiding soldiers to give up and "spend the remainder of the war in safety...in a prisoner-of-war camp."

"Trader" jumps from hiding and gives up, but when he refuses to tell them were Rock and his men are, the officer tells his men to shoot Johnson. Wounded on the ground "Trader" pulls the pin on a German grenade he had in his collection. Easy sees the resulting explosion and comes in fighting, taking the Germans out. Wildman tells Rock that if it wasn;t for the explosion they would have walked right into the trap.

Next is a two-page Battle Album featuring the "Sinking of the U.S.S. Seawolf," which is drawn by Sam Glanzman. 

That is followed by a  Warrior, History’s Mightiest Men Of Combat! story featuring "Russian Guerrilla Warrior," which is also drawn by Sam Glanzman. I don't know if Glanzman was channeling Al Williamson and Roy Krenkel or what, but this one-pager was really nice.

Next we have "Roncesvalles," a four-page Great Battles of History story written and illustrated by Ric Estrada.

It is 778 A.D. and Emperor Charlemagne is making his way through the Pyrenees after campaigning in Spain. They camp beyond a pass and a man is sent back to have Sir Roland bring the baggage train forward.

They are unaware that they are being watched and when Roland and his men attempt to traverse the tight pass they are set upon by a savage hoard of great number.  Roland fights on with such savagery that the attackers wonder if he is indeed mortal.

However, by the next dawn, the pass, Roncesvalles, is strewn with the bodies of hundreds of the dead. Charlemagne orders graves to be dug for his fallen men, "Never again shall I have their like beside me."

The book ends with a Wild Blue Yonder gag strip, "Control...control..." by John Costanza.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

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