Thursday, February 4, 2016

War Comics Key Issues Part 7

Well, folks, looks like we are mostly hitting up Sgt Rock keys in Part 7 here. Not saying there won't be other titles, but Part 7 of this war comics key issues series are mostly Sgt. Rock key issues.

On top of that, it seems like the only ones worth discussing are the DC war comics of the era. Sure, there are other publishers that published war comics at the time, but there's very little information on them out there. 

Not like there's all that much information on Sgt. Rock and Easy Company either, but I'm basically doing whatever and whenever I can. So, this Part 6 link here will bring ya back if need be. If you're good to roll out, hope someone enjoys this.

1st all Sgt. Rock issue

This here issue sees the 1st all-Sgt. Rock issue in comics. The character and his men would end up getting their own headlining titled series, but that would come much later.

There are three Sgt. Rock stories in this issue, however. Our Army at War #91 is one of the more valuable Sgt. Rock keys and has the cover date of February, 1960.

1st appearance of Zack Nolan

Zach Taylor Nolan is one of the earliest recurring and specific members of Easy Company that was introduced. He is the units original bazooka man, and does show up in quite a bit of Sgt. Rock's war stories during the Silver Age.

He was replaced after he lost his arm in combat by the duo Long Round and Short Round. 1st appearance of Zack Taylor Nolan, and Our Army at War #93 has the cover date of April, 1960.

1st War That Time Forgot

For some reason, this issue here is still viewed as a war comic, although the military does go up against dinosaurs. Also, for some reason, this issue here is pretty valuable and sought out as well.

Actually, it's the 2nd most valuable comic in the titled series according to Overstreet, even beating the 1st appearance of Mlle Marie. That's a head scratcher there, but I guess we've always been fascinated of what it would be like if man went up against dinosaurs.

After all, look at the Jurassic Park movies. Same basic story each time round and they still make tons of money. 

Anyways, the War that Time Forgot stories would end up becoming the main feature of this title for a while. The 2nd story is in issue #92 and has the 2nd dinosaur cover of the titled series.

1st War that Time Forget story, and Star-Spangled War Stories #90 has the cover date of May, 1960.

1st appearance of Bulldozer

Filling or fleshing out more characters in Easy Company is the 1st appearance of Bulldozer, but there is debate about whether or not this is Horace Canfield. Some sources say that there was another character named Sergeant Nichols who first had the Bulldozer name.

It might just be an artist's mistake, but Nichols was seen with three chevrons on his helmet. In his 1st appearance, Bulldozer Nichols had an intense jealousy of Sgt. Rock. After he was saved by Sgt. Rock in the same issue, he agreed that the Rock had what it takes to lead Easy Company.

As fans know, the character of Bulldozer is the 2nd in command of Easy. He is a corporal as well and respected Sgt. Rock.

Not too sure whether or not this is indeed Horace Canfield, as some sources say his real name is Horace Canfield and others say Horace Canfield Nichols. I think a real fan might know the real answer, but I sure don't.

So far everyone lists this as the 1st appearance of Bulldozer, and I believe the character once led the Suicide Squad but not sure whether that was an imposter or not. 

This is definitely one of the more valuable war comics key issues out there and not an easy find as well. June, 1960 is the cover date of Our Army at War #95.

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1st appearance of Buster

Buster was a short-lived Easy Company member. This character would die in the same issue as Ice Cream Soldier in issue #107 of the titled series.

However, Ice Cream Soldier does come back in later issues. In later reprints of the story contained in this issue, the name of Ice Cream Soldier is changed to Young Willy.

So, Ice Cream Soldier really doesn't die in Our Army at War #107, but they did put the ka-bosh on the character of Buster. He has no further appearances after #107.

Sometimes they just don't come back in the world of comics, and people did actually die in the Sgt. Rock stories. Our Army at War #101 has the cover date of December, 1960.

1st appearance of Johnny Cloud

Johnny Cloud, the Navajo Ace, was a pretty popular comic character in the war genre. A fighter pilot for the U.S. Army Air Force, he fought the Nazis in World War II in his early adventures.

One of the panels in his story is the source material for one of Roy Lichtenstein's famous paintings, but that isn't where the fame should end for this character. Later Johnny Cloud would be part of the group known as the Losers as well.

Yes, that comic group called the Losers that was made into a movie, the one that stars Zoey Saldana and Chris Evans. However, that movie was adapted from the Vertigo imprint of the team and not the original Losers that would appear 9 years after this issue here, so Johnny Cloud wasn't featured in the flick.

Well, at least the character got to appear on the cover of his 1st appearance issue. All-American Men of War #82 has the cover date of December, 1960.

1st appearance of Junior

I'm not going to note this as the possible 1st appearance of Horace Canfield as Bulldozer, because I simply don't know if that's true or not. There are some sources out there that state Nichols and Canfield aren't the same character and some that do.

Not a huge fan to be honest, so I really don't know either way. I apologize for that and just thought I'd bring it to your attention just in case.

However, Overstreet does note Our Army at War #105 has the 1st appearance of Junior, who lied about his age to enlist. Junior's real name is William West, but I'm not entirely sure just how prominent a member of Easy Company Junior is or how often he appears.

He is noted by sources online to be a core member of Easy Company. Our Army at War #105 has the cover date April, 1961.

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Definitely some heavy hitter, key war comics in this Part 7 here. 1st appearance of Johnny Cloud is definitely one as is the 1st appearance of Bulldozer in the world of Sgt. Rock.

Eventually, DC would tie many of these war comic characters together, especially ones that debuted in the Silver Age. I'm not sure whether the Time that War Forgot was ever tied into Sgt. Rock or Gunner and Sarge or The Losers, but that story feature is a pretty popular and valuable one.

Part 8 will be coming up with more war comic key issues in the near future. See ya and thanks for reading.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

War Comics Key Issues Part 6

And we are back with Part 6 to this war comics key issues series. During this time in the Silver Age, there are quite a lot of specific key issues and 1st appearances of popular war comic characters for sure.

If you missed Part 5 to this key comic issues series, just hit that blue link to head on back. Otherwise, let's lock and load.

Classic American Flag cover

While I don't necessarily consider this a key issue, this comic cover is definitely a great one and example of American patriotism. You can't go wrong with the American flag, even more so when a G.I. soldier holds it in honor of a friend while firing at an incoming fighter plane in what appears to be an impossible feat to survive.

I'm surprised that this cover here isn't considered a classic cover by industry, but you know what? I think it is and deserves to be such. 

I think this is another cover by Jerry Grandenetti, but not too sure. G.I. Combat #74 has the cover date of July, 1959.

2nd appearance of Sgt. Rock

Issue #84 has the 2nd appearance Sgt. Frank Rock in the story "Laughter of Snakehead Hill". Another amazing yet intense cover by Joe Kubert depicting an up close and personal struggle between a Nazi soldier and an American G.I. from Easy Company.

The cover definitely captures the featured story. Sgt Rock and the men of Easy Company are stationed on Snakehead Hill. Although greatly running short on supplies, they are ordered to hold their position even when Nazi soldiers come across the unit.

When their bullets run out, Sgt. Rock and Easy Company have to fend off the Nazis with their bare hands. Intense? Yep! Awesome? You bet! Our Army at War #84 that features the 2nd appearance of Sgt. Rock has the cover date of July, 1959, and it's not an easy find online.

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1st appearance of Mademoiselle Marie

Although there weren't many female characters in war comics, the ladies were not exempt from them. There was Canteen Kate, and although her stories was in a military-themed comic, it was more on the romance or humor side.

Canteen Kate did work for the Army but really didn't do much except for scheming up different disguises and plans so she could be closer to her boyfriend, Al. In reality, American women did serve in the Armed Forces during World War II primarily as nurses or clerical positions.

Mlle Maria, however, was based on the female French Resistance fighters of World War II and most notably Simone Segouin. Her comic career saw her fight in World War II as a French Resistance fighter and was the only known love interest for Sgt. Rock. She's an extremely popular character and her 1st appearance is quite valuable.

This first appearance is of the original Mademoiselle Marie, and like most of the popular war comics characters, she would be somewhat tied into the superhero genre later.

Marie would have a daughter in later comics named Julia Remarque. It was revealed that Alfred Pennyworth is the father, and he was an intelligence agent in France during the war where he met Mlle Marie.

The name Mademoiselle Marie would be used as a code name in the DC Universe, so there are several characters who have took the name. Anais Guillot is the real name of this most popular and original Mlle Marie in comics.

While France did allow a small number of females to enter combat during World War I and II, the U.S. did not allow female service combatants. Even after the World Wars, the Combat Exclusion Policy was written into The Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 in the U.S.

While the integration law did allow women to serve as permanent, regular members in the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, and Airforce during peace time and war time, it also barred them from positions or units whose purpose were to engage in direct combat. In April  of 1993, combat exclusion was lifted from aviation positions by Secretary of Defense Les Aspin under President Bill Clinton.

There were still restrictions, however, in terms of positions regarding aviation units in direct support of ground units and special operations aviation units. The combat exclusion policy was completely lifted in 2013, though service women still did engage in combat in the Gulf and Iraq wars. 

A small group of American women did serve as combat soldiers in the Revolutionary, Civil, and Mexican Wars in U.S. history. They had to disguise themselves as men in order to do so.

Star-Spangled War Stories #84 features the 1st appearance of Mlle Marie and August, 1959 is the cover date for this comic. Not an easy find for this key issue, and Mlle Marie was created by was created by Robert Kanigher and Jerry Grandenetti.

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1st appearance of Ice Cream Soldier
Origin of Ice Cream Soldier
3rd appearance of Sgt. Rock

Is Ice Cream Soldier really the 1st specific, recurring Easy Company members to appear in comics? Not sure, but it looks like it.

Phil Mason is his real name and he's usually selected as the point man on various missions. He got his nickname from being at his best in combat during cold weather and his ability to keep a cool head under pressure.

CGC and Overstreet does not note it yet, but Our Army at War #85 also has the 3rd appearance of Sgt. Rock. Cover date for this key issue is August, 1959.

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Grey-tone cover
Grey-tone covers begin

Another grey-tone cover by legendary Jerry Grandenetti. This issue also has artwork by Russ Heath in Buck Private Jet!, Irv Novick in the story Dogtag Hill!, and Jack Abel in Tin Pot for A Tank!

The grey-tone covers begin continually starting with this issue here. They end with issue #109

Not really much else to say, but if you're into the grey-tone or wash-tone covers, this one is pretty darn cool! G.I. Combat #75 has the cover date of August, 1959.

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1st appearance of Pooch

Hey, you gotta give love to all those who served if you're an American, and that includes military canines as well. Well, Pooch was one of the first recurring military canine, comic characters and pretty popular as well.

Pooch fought along side of Gunner & Sarge during World War II, and would later become the mascot for the Losers. Definitely an important character and first appearance for Gunner & Sarge.

So here's a little bit about how our canine friends have served in the military. Hounds were used during the American Civil War to protect, send messages and guard prisoners, and in World War I, dogs were used as mascots on American propaganda and recruitment posters.

During World War II, the Soviet Union sent dogs strapped with explosives against invading German tanks but with very little success. Dogs were also used during World War II in the Pacific theater by the U.S. to help recapture islands taken over by the Japanese.

The Doberman Pinscher became the official dog of the USMC (United States Marine Corps), and our canine friends also served in the Vietnam War. So, giving respect to all the canines who served.

1st appearance of Pooch is in this issue of Our Fighting Forces #49, and it has the cover date of September, 1959. Not an easy find online.

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1st Sgt. Rock cover

Overstreet notes this as the 1st Sgt Rock cover, but CGC does not. A bit strange since Overstreet has been noting this back in 2000 as well.

Well, if you're into your favorite characters and their 1st cover appearances, Our Army at War #88 should be one to snag if you're a Sgt. Rock and Easy Company fan. 

November, 1959 is the cover date for Our Army at War #88.

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I'm gonna get away from the actual comic investment or key issue aspect of this particular series for a brief moment here. 

As an American, I cannot express my gratitude and respect enough for those who have served this country past, present and future. Though comic historians have regarded many war comics propaganda, these comics do mainly depict the sacrifice, patriotism, and bravery of military men and women.

Sure, racist depictions are obviously present in them. Even some of the comic artists that drew these comics even admit to this. Yes, these war comics reflect a time and mentality of those eras, but they do represent much, much, much more than just that.

Not saying that anyone should or shouldn't be offended by some of the depictions of certain groups in many of these comics. That's pretty much up to you.

I pretty much think these war comics honor those who put their lives on the line so we can basically have one. To me, that's the important part to remember, and they will always have my gratitude and respect. 'Nuff said!