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Friday, January 29, 2016

War Comics Key Issues Part 5

Alright, we are getting a tad bit deeper into the Silver Age war comics genre. Things do get a bit interesting in this era.

More longer recurring specific characters are introduced and the most popular of them are from the DC side of publishing. I'm pretty sure you can already guess who I'm talking about.

However, there are some pretty boring keys as well, especially if we're talking about minor prototypes and whatnot. I won't be getting too in-depth with minor prototypes as I am no expert when it comes to them and the specific character addressed.

Click this Part 4 link if you missed the previous post. If not, here's more key war comics, troopers!

3rd Sgt. Rock prototype

When it comes to most of these different Sgt. Rock prototypes, I have no idea what differentiates one from the other. I mean, some I do get on why but some are just over my head.

Like I said, no Sgt. Rock or war comics expert here. In this issue, the 3rd Sgt. Rock prototype is in the story called "The Rock Sergeant". Somewhat a valuable prototype issue for Sgt. Rock, and Star-Spangled War Stories #53 has the cover date of January, 1957.

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Pre-Sgt. Rock Easy Company story

It seems that Easy Company had quite a few stories before the group became hugely tied to or identified with Sgt. Rock. Really wouldn't say this is a key issue, but some fans seem to make a big deal out of the early pre Sgt. Rock stories involving Easy Company.

Really don't know much about that, so really don't have much to write about concerning those. However, I figure I'll just make a generic list of the ones I could find in case you're interested in them:
  • All-American Men of War #48
  • Our Army at War #61
  • G.I. Combat #58
  • G.I. Combat #66 
  • Star-Spangled War Stories #64
  • Star-Spangled War Stories #67
  • Our Army at War #61
 All-American Men of War #42 has the cover date of February, 1957.

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Minor Sgt. Rock prototype

Here we have another prototype concerning Sgt. Rock, in which seems to be popular for fans of the character. There's quite a bit of them and not just in this title alone also.

I suppose I could try to ramble about how this is deemed as a Sgt Rock prototype, but I'd rather not talk about something I know absolutely nothing about. February, 1958 is the cover date for Our Army at War #67, and it's pretty valuable for a minor Sgt. Rock prototype.

U.S. nukes Russia story

The Fightin' Air Force comic title may not be as valuable or as popular as other war comic titles, but when it comes to this issue and the story that depicts the U.S. nuke the U.S.S.R, it is the most valuable one in the titled series.

As if that is any surprise. This isn't the 1st story that has the U.S. nuking Russia. That story has played out in other titles by other publishers as well.

Not a huge sought out comic or war comics key issue, but just wanted to add another example of some of the crazy type of stories that came out from this genre. Not crazy as is not plausible, but just crazy to think about if that were to ever happen or vice versa.

The story itself concerns the fear of Russia's newly developed ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) and the U.S.'s preventative measures and weapons of mass destruction to counter the new threat. It's a strange read as in more educational than to entertain.

"The Push-Button War Of The Future" is the story that has one of the last panels of the story show Russia being nuked. Fightin' Air Force #12 has the cover date of October, 1958.

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1st appearance Tank Killer

1st appearance of Tank Killer and this issue also has a pre Sgt. Rock Easy Company story as well. The Tank Killer feature would later move to All-American Men of War starting with issue #69.

The Tank Killer in actual reality was a nickname given to bazookas. Both were used during World War II and the Korean War. The 3.5 was called the new Tank Killer during the Korean War.

During World War II, common bazookas were the 2.36 inch rocket launcher, and there were three variations that were made during the era. The third was the M9 and was adopted in October, 1943.

I believe the Tank Killer stories were fought during World War II, as a German tank is shown on this cover.  December, 1958 is the cover for G.I. Combat #67.

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1st lead up Sgt. Rock prototype

Jimmy "The Rock" is the character in this story and it's simply entitled "The Rock". This character is the 1st of the trio of prototypes that finally introduces the true 1st appearance of the favorite war comic hero, Sgt. Rock.

I think the character is depicted as a private in this story and a former prize fighter. January, 1959 is the cover date for G.I. Combat #68. The story "The Rock" was written by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert.

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1st appearance of Gunner & Sarge

Two popular characters that would emerge from  DC's war comics genre would be the soldier duo known as Gunner & Sarge. Despite online sources, they are 1st introduced as a team in this comic here - All-American Men of War #67 and not Our Fighting Forces #45.

I do have to say that it is a bit confusing the way Overstreet notes both issues as 1st appearances, but Our Fighting Forces #45 has the cover date of May and this one has the cover date of March. So it should be just be Gunner & Sarge stories begin when it comes to Our Fighting Forces #45.

Also, this has the publishing date of January, 1959 and Our Fighting Forces #45 has the publishing date of March, 1959. So I have no clue why these two comics are noted by both CGC and Overstreet as 1st appearances.

CGC also notes both issues as the  "1st appearance of Gunner & Sarge". Makes it confusing, and unless both have some secret inside knowledge as to why we have two 1st appearances for this duo, I think the pair's 1st appearance as a featured duo is in this issue here.

It should be noted that some out there are noting All-American Men of War #61 as the 1st appearance of Gunner. I have no idea if this is true or if it's even the same character, but Overstreet does note issue #61 as a "Gunner c/s", meaning cover and story.

So, no clue about that and All-American Men of War #67 has the cover date of March, 1959.

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1st appearance of Sgt. Rocky (prototype)

Marvel has Sgt. Nick Fury, but DC's most popular war character is Sgt. Rock. The 1st prototype lead up for this character was in G.I. Combat #68 as listed above.

In this issue, the Sgt Rock prototype was called Sgt. Rocky and is depicted as a 4th grade rate sergeant and known as "The Rock of Easy". The story in which this prototype appears is titled "The Rock of Easy Co!" and was written by Bob Haney and Ross Andru.

Like Nick Fury, Sgt. Rock is a World War II Army officer. His  real name is Franklin "Frank" Rock.  He is the leader of Easy Company. There are three prototype lead ups to this character that Overstreet notes.

CGC notes this as the last prototype for the character and Our Army at War #81 has the cover date of April, 1959. Though this issue was believed to be the 1st appearance of Sgt. Rock back in the day, it's not any longer.

Chris Pedrin wrote a book called Big Five Informational Guide. It is a reference book that covers the five major war titles published by DC Comics: All American Men of War, G.I. Combat, Our Fighting Forces, Our Army at War, and Star-Spangled War Stories.

In it, he analyzes the evolution of the character of Sgt. Rock and concludes that this issue is indeed a prototype. Overstreet must have concurred with Chris Pedrin, because they also note it as such and so does CGC.

However, according to DC Comics and reprints of the Our Army at War #81 in later comics, the publisher does note issue #81 as the 1st appearance of Sgt. Rock. Yeah, I know, confusing.

1st appearance of Sgt Rock?

Ah, this crap gets confusing and lame the more I read about it. So apparently, issue #82 finally has a character finally called "Sgt. Rock" but it's not considered the 1st true appearance of Sgt. Rock?

Well, Sgt. Rock is present visually in this comic book and is finally called "Sgt. Rock." Overstreet notes that he's only in 6 panels in a 6 page story, and this issue is the last lead up trio to the character's 1st true appearance. 

However, CGC notes the last lead up trio as issue #81. CGC only notes this issue as "Character named Sgt. Rock in Easy Company Story".

Like in issue #81, this Sgt. Rock is depicted as a 4th grade rate sergeant, and I have no idea how much bearing that actually has. Seems to have some bearing for it not to be considered Sgt. Rock's official 1st appearance. Of course, there's debates on comic forums as to whether this should be considered Sgt. Rock's 1st true appearance or not.

Dunno and could care less to be honest. Our Army at War #82 has the cover date of May, 1959.

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1st true appearance of Sgt. Rock

Despite the actual DC publisher referencing Our Army at War #81 as the 1st appearance of Sgt. Rock, it seems Overstreet and CGC note Our Army at War #83 as the 1st "true" appearance of Sgt. Rock.

This story finally depicts Sgt. Rock as a Master Sergeant and has a specific narration that defines the character according to Overstreet and most likely Chris Pedrin. This key issue is perhaps the most valuable Silver Age war comic out there even beating out Nick Fury's 1st appearance in Sgt. Fury & his Howling Commandos #1.

Definitely one of the Holy Grails of war comics. Actually, issue #81 and #82 are also quite valuable and sought out as well. Sgt. Rock's 1st "true" appearance is in the story "The Rock and the Wall".

Specific or recognizable members of Rock's Easy Company would not be introduced until later issues. Important issue for Frank Rock and the long evolution of the character to finally be defined as Sgt. Rock.

Our Army at War #83 has the cover date of June, 1959.

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So a bunch of prototypes for Sgt. Rock and some weirdness concerning his 1st appearance. I wonder if anyone bothered to ask Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert what issue they believe the 1st official appearance of Sgt. Rock is in since they are credited as creators of the character.

I mean, no matter how much of a fan you are and know of the character, how can you argue with the actual creators? Maybe Chris Pedrin did ask them. Dunno about that.

One thing that is clear is that the character of Sgt. Rock is pretty much the most popular character to come out of the Silver Age war comic genre. If he wasn't, who would actually care about all these pre Sgt. Rock Easy Company stories or Sgt. Rock prototypes?

However, early Silver Age war comics stayed pretty true to the genre. Later Silver Age & Bronze Age war comics would once again revert into more fantastical tales, connecting many characters to the superhero, fantasy, and even horror genres. 

One thing I do have to admit concerning war comics: A lot of the covers are definitely bad ass!


  1. these war comics r great to learn about. never thought of getting any until now. I remember u doing a couple of posts about which comic is a better buy. have another for u if u need something new. ok here it is AF 15, Hulk 1 or ASM 1. u have about 7000 for a low grade of the first two or the highest grade you can get with the same money for asm1 which one comic do you buy. keep up the good and educational work.

  2. There are many great issues to collect in the silver age DC war genre. I have a few of them and looking to get some more. A great list so far. Looking forward to see what others are coming up.

  3. Great writeup as always sir, you should join our google plus community...comic book speculating and market trends.