New Reviews of Old Comics
I was pretty excited when I found this one among the stacks and stacks of comics at my favorite estate sale store (the fact they have stacks and stacks of comics makes it my favorite). It has a great Joe Kubert cover, as if there is any other kind, with a Cardinal (the church variety, not the bird) dividing a gun wielding Nazi and Sarge. Turns out it was among the last I read of the ten or so comics I bought that day. Why? Don’t know.
The cover story “The Cardinal and the Killer” gives Robert Kanigher creator and writer credits with artwork going to someone by the name of Vicatan Jr. and even then you have to hunt to find his name. Whatever. Sarge and Easy are in Rome fighting the good fight. They meet up with some Italian partisans who are seeking a murderous Nazi officer. As they pin him down the Nazi seeks refuge in a Catholic church where the Cardinal tells the partisan to get lost and leave the Nazi to God, which he does. By the end of the 15 page story the Cardinal is dead, the Nazi has put a hurting on Sarge, but the Nazi meets his fate courtesy of the church bell. Good timing or the hand of God? You decide! Either way, one less Nazi is one less Nazi. I’m still not sure who Vicatan Jr. is, but the art in this story is pretty damn good. Layouts move the story along and the line work is gritty and appropriate for the story. What more can you ask for?
Next is “Ground Zero…with Anchovies!” art and story by Tom McSweeney. First of all this was published 16 years before anyone would ever consider equating the phrase “Ground Zero” with New York City, so it has nothing to do with 9/11. We see three grunts walking in a desert setting bitching about being lost. Suddenly a light flashes and the soldiers are vaporized. Are they in a nuclear test range? Nope. They’re the toppings on a pizza being placed into a large pizza oven. Clever.
Finally we have two Battle Albums which consist of two page spreads passing along a war related tidbit of information. One is about Japanese samurai, the other is about privateers. Not much story in either, but the art isn’t bad. Noticing the “Joe Kubert School” credit in the samurai Battle Album I wonder if all of the art and stories (except the Kanigher story) in this issue were done by students at the Kubert school. If so, I find the issue all the more impressive and hope I find more Sgt. Rock issues in my various travels. Having been heavily involved with small press comics back in the late 80s and early 90s I still have a soft spot for amateur artwork. Even the biggest names out there had to start small and work their way up, right?
Best Ad: A small display ad toward the back offers “Star Rocks REAL METEORS! From the moon or passing comets?” New World Expressions of San Rafael, CA says their star rocks, which have been studied by NASA, struck Earth at over 25,000 mph 750,000 years ago. Rocks range in size from 1” – 3” long and are black. For $5 (or 2 for $9) star rocks can be yours too. I’m neither an astronomist nor a geologist, but something doesn’t seem right here. Doesn’t NASA tend to keep their space rocks pretty close to the vest? I doubt they’re using New World Expressions as a broker of cast off meteorites, and even if they were, $5 seems awfully cheap. It’s probably just chips of some common rock that wasn’t formed by volcanoes or tectonic motion (hey, I said I wasn’t a geologist). Mostly I think I’m just a cynic after getting a tiny box of flat army men through a comic book ad. I’m sure there were a lot of satisfied Star Rock customers out there. Not.