May 2, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 433: Sgt. Rock #421, April 1988 (War Week, Day 4)

Aaaannd we're back.

I first met Sgt. Rock and Easy Company when they were confronted by one of the Monitor's giant dimensional tuning forks in the early issues of Crisis on Infinite Earths. As with most DC characters, I'd seen the comics on the racks, but to that point had not read any of them. Which means, to this day, I'd simply assumed that they were a Howling Commandos knock-off, and had paid them very little heed.

I was wrong.

For a Code-approved comic, this issue gets away with some fairly subversive thinking about war, and offers some early, though unstated, thinking through PTSD and what effect the act of warring has on those who are forced to do it. This is not a comic that, in any way, glorifies war. A bloodly close-quarters battle ends with Easy Co. victorious, but, aside from Rock, each member has slumped to the ground, stunned and horrified by the brutality of what they've just done. As was I. This comic doesn't pull punches. It never lets you forget that it's about thinking, feeling human beings forced into a situation in which they have to kill one another. And regardless of the kind of propaganda that might have painted the Nazi ranks as unfeeling genocidal maniacs, Kanigher and company never take that easy way out, and remind us that, by and large, those that fight wars are not the ones who start them.

I'm glad to have read this comic. It touched me.


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