DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL
Our Army At War #294
Published monthly, thirty cents, July
Cover artist and Editor: Joe Kubert
Our Army At War premiered in August of 1952 and lasted 302 issues until February 1977 when the title was changed to Sgt. Rock to reflect the popularity of its main character. Sgt. Rock would last until July 1988 with issue #422.
Our Army At War is known for its main character, Sgt. Frank Rock of Easy Company. Although a character nicknamed “The Rock” debuted in GI Combat, Sgt. Rock as we know him debuted in this comic in 1959. He was created by Robert Kanigher.
Easy Company was the unnumbered regiment he commanded. It saw action in every European theater. Easy contained African-American members – an anachronism for more enlightened times. Some members were given nicknames such as Bulldozer (the second-in-command), Wildman, Jackie Johnson, Little Sure Shot, Ice Cream Soldier and Four Eyes.
Our Army At War also earns its place in comic book history for the first appearance of Enemy Ace in #151 (February 1965) – the flying ace of WWI who proved very popular as an anti-hero.
But by July 1976 the Enemy Ace feature was gone and Sgt. Rock and Easy Company dominated the comic.
“A Coffin for Easy”, Robert Kanigher ( w ), F. Redondo (a)
Easy Company runs out of ammunition and prepares to face a troop of Nazis with bayonets. Monks in a hearse drawn by two horses approach – it is Mlle. Marie and her brother Jules, who bring ammunition in the coffin!
Mlle. Marie, Rock and Easy fight off the Nazis. Rock reveals their mission – find and destroy the secret oil pipeline in the village of Aix. This is the village in which Mlle. Marie’s brother Jules lives! Her brother is a … er … brother in Aix’s church.
While searching the church, Rock finds the oil pipeline following an underground river. Jules rings the church bells to warn the villagers to evacuate before Easy detonates the explosions. The Nazis investigate and Jules is killed in the battle.
Rock, Easy and Mlle. Marie make it to the hills as the pipeline explodes, collapsing the village in the river and killing off the Nazis stationed there. The church bells ring one last time as if to honor Jules’ sacrifice.
Bob Kanigher’s Gallery of War: “A Pair of Boots”, Robert Kanigher ( w ), Ric Estrada (a).
Near Warsaw, Pvt. Fritz Vorst Wermacht-is issued boots that are too painful for his feet. He stops to eat and shoos away two cardinals trying to eat his crumbs. He kills a Polish officer and steals his soft leather boots. He tries to assault a village girl and kills her when she tries to run away. He is killed hiding in a farmhouse during a mortar barrage. The two cardinals he shooed away nest in his empty boots (boots, shoos, get it?).
Take Ten (Letter page): comments for OAAW #289. Walter Green of Wading River, NY (positive), Terry Chadwick of Phoenix, AZ (positive), Wade Sears of Calgary, Alberta (mostly positive, but critical of the lack of Commonwealth soldiers – UK, Canada, Australian, etc. and questioning the accuracy of Nazi tank tactics.), James Parker of Clarksville, TN (negative – questioning the time setting of the story in #289 being only 8 months before the end of the war. The editor explains that the stories depicted are not chronological) and Robert LaChine of Chicago, IL (negative). E. Nelson Bridwell answered the letters.
Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry
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