New Reviews of Old Comics
That’s quite a cover isn’t it? Sgt. Rock captured by toy soldier with bright red rosy cheeks? If this is reflective of the story inside you have to wonder if this is some sort of fantasy sequence or Nazis dressed as toy soldiers. Either way it would be an atypical Sgt. Rock story. Only one way to find out.
The first story, “24 Hour Pass!” was written by Bob Kanigher with Russ Heath on the art, starts with Rock and Easy Co. in the middle of a heavy fire fight leaving Rock looking battle weary. Rock is assigned to single-handedly guard a nearby town which looks like the war has passed it by. Despite being Rock’s enemy, all of the German people in the town are super friendly, offering knockwursts and torts. Outside of town the good sergeant finds a barn with kindly gentlemen making toy soldiers, and while in there he sees a German patrol run by, but nothing is actually there when he steps outside. Maybe he’s losing it. A series of other oddities happens which culminate with Sgt. Rock meeting up with a young fraulein during which a man tries to strangle him. Of course he ain’t going out like that, and fights the attacker off, demanding information. The rat squeals, but gets a knife in the back before he can finish his sentence about the toy factory. Aha! Rock heads back to the barn, finds a secret munitions factory below the toy factory and takes appropriate action.
The next six page story, “Visit to a Small War!” is un-credited and tells the story of how GI Jim beechum spent his furlough visiting his kid brother’s unit. Prior to his visit Beechum read his brother’s letters about how the never saw any big action, so he figured the visit would be like a vacation. Tiger tanks, stukas and infantry raids, oh my! Beechum’s brother is seeing more consistent action than Beechum, but that’s all he knows so it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Like most things in life, this story is all about perspective.
“Rita, a truck!” also un-credited, is an eight page story about a well loved supply truck that just won’t quit and the guys who drive her through a mess of German attacks until she reaches her destination. She starts out all nice and shiny, but ends up with blown out windows and flat tires. The last panel has more shiny new trucks rolling into town. I guess this is very similar to the men themselves; start out shiny and new, get beaten down and see new recruits pulling in. Interesting simile.
The Pacific Theatre is the setting for our last un-credited story, “Last Shot of the Triggerfish!” A frogman is sent to a downed submarine in search of new fangled “acoustical torpedoes” (as opposed to electric torpedoes, like guitars, right?) before the Japanese can get their hands on them. While scouting the Triggerfish the frogman also finds a model of the doomed sub. Despite being in a watery grave, the sonar still works letting the frogman know an enemy sub approaches, so he fires the acoustical torpedoes. The startled and ingenious Japanese sailors assume it’s an acoustical torpedo so they stop the engines, making the torpedo stop. I guess this stand-off could last a long, long time, except the frogman starts banging on the Japanese sub with the model until the torpedo wakes up and takes out the enemy. Does the heroic frogman survive such a close blast? You’ll have to read it to find out.
The stories in Our Army at War are short, fairly predictable, but still an enjoyable read, and at 52 BIG pages, it’s hard to beat the value. I like that the stories aren’t so much about war itself, or just big battle scenes, but more about regular people in unusual circumstances.