BHOC: SGT ROCK #311

Here’s another issue of SGT ROCK that was purchased for my younger brother Ken during the year or so when he was vaguely interested in war comics. It eventually ended up in my possession, as did most of the comics he had. That’s a really nice Joe Kubert cover, with some thoughtful coloring making a scene that Kubert had drawn maybe half-a-hundred times by that point pop.

The war titles typically had really good artwork in them, and this one is no exception. The lead Sgt Rock adventure is drawn by Doug Wildey, best known for his work in animation and his western character Rio. Wildey had a lush brush stroke that gave his images texture, and he was a polished expert at spotting blacks throughout a piece of art. This is a very nice-looking job.

The story is typical Rock fare of this era. While being ferried up the Belgian Coast with supplies for forces already in the area, the ship Easy Company is aboard comes under fire from a huge Nazi cannon and are forced to bail out. Rock makes it to shore and comes across a team of S.S. troops attaching a civilian boat owned by a Katherine Hepburn-esque schoolteacher, who is holding them off with a handgun. Rock sets up a crossfire and helps wipe out the Nazis, then joins the woman on her boat. The underground has filled the boat with explosives with the intention of taking out the large cannon that is shelling convoy ships entering the strait.

Together, Rock and the woman take on the mission, coping with running out of gas, an enemy tank, and the security around the big gun. But of course they are successful. In the end, Rock links back up with Easy Company, but cannot introduce his companion–because he never asked her name.

This was followed by another Dave Manak filler page, a quickie gag strip of the sort that ran often in DC’s war and mystery titles, and which was the backbone of the PLOP series. It’s a simple little gag, but attractively and wordlessly executed.

The back-up story doesn’t carry any art credits, but some quick research tells me that it was drawn by a young Stephen Bissette and Rick Veitch, both of whom would go on to respected careers in the comic book field, working on, among other tings, SWAMP THING. And you can see why from the work they do here–their depiction of the jungle foliage is lush and textured and very evocative.

The story itself is nothing memorable, a six-page short set during the Vietnam conflict, in which US soldiers all think they hear the voices of their wives and girlfriends and mothers before they are killed, but one soldier dreams of Saigon Sally, a Vietnamese woman he has met. But they’er all shot down by Viet Cong forces under the command of a woman–and she has been hearing her own husband’s voice, foreshadowing her own impending death. The artwork is really the star of this one.

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