First Published: November 2007
Contents: Sgt. Rock story from G.I. Combat #68 (January 1959); Sgt. Rock stories from Our Army At War #81 (April 1959) to #117 (April 1962)
Key Creator Credits: Joe Kubert, Robert Kanigher, Bob Haney, Irv Novick, and others
Key First Appearances: Sgt. Frank Rock, Ice Cream Soldier, Zach Nollan, Bulldozer, Jackie Johnson, Wildman
Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Sgt. Rock Vol. 2
Overview: During World War II, there is an Army squadron that is sent on various missions across Europe and Northern Africa. These missions are critical to the success of the war effort, but they ask a lot of the soldiers to complete the task. While the squad may be led by the Skipper, the true commander of these soldiers is Sgt. Frank Rock, the strongest man in the U.S. Army. This is Showcase Presents Sgt. Rock Vol. 1.
Sgt. Rock is a fairly simple man. He goes where ordered, he leads the soldiers of Easy Company, and he completes the missions. He doesn’t want to be in the war, but he does it because this is his role in life at this point. He would gladly give up his stripes to a better candidate, but he knows that for right now, he is the man for the job.
Many of the stories deal with Sgt. Rock having to care for a rookie private recently assigned to Easy. This young soldier is afraid of the war or doesn’t understand how or why Rock does what he does. So Rock shares stories about previous soldiers assigned to Easy who faced similar situations, and how they came through it. Often, these young soldiers come through when faced with combat, inspired by the actions and the words of their sergeant.
By the end of this volume, we have been introduced to most of the cast of characters for Easy Company, such as Bulldozer, Ice Cream Soldier, Jackie Johnson and Wildman. There are still a few to be added in later volumes, but the core group is in place here.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: I really appreciated this volume the more I read of it. First and foremost, the artwork by Joe Kubert is just spectacular. You should get this book just for his artwork. The stories can get repetitive but the artwork carries me through. I just really like to see the progression of the creative team (Robert Kanigher and Kubert) across this collection. We start out with Rock leading a nameless, nondescript Easy Company, with all of the stories focusing just on his story. But as the story progresses, the other characters are introduced and then brought back over and over, and the title becomes more of a group book. It opens up the story-telling opportunities once we have familiar characters that can be re-used from issue to issue.
Footnotes: While this volume collects the earliest adventures of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, it does not collect the first appearance, which was in G.I. Combat #56 (January 1958). His second appearance in G.I. Combat #68 is included in this collection.
If you like this volume, try: the 1998 movie, Saving Private Ryan, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon. Beyond the dramatic opening scene of the U.S. troops landing at Omaha Beach, it shows a squad sent on a mission to retrieve a soldier. The squad must walk across parts of France, facing German forces along the way. While there is no direct link between Sgt. Rock and Saving Private Ryan, there were many times when reading these stories that I thought back to the movie. This is a powerful movie, and I try to rewatch it each year in that period between Memorial Day (last Monday of May) and the D-Day anniversary (June 6).