The Ominous Octopus

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sgt. Rock

I think Sgt. Rock is probably the most popular character in war comics. And Joe Kubert is probably the artist people would tend to associate with the character.

Sgt. Rock

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sgt. Rock
Sgt. Rock from Our Army At War #196, artist Joe Kubert
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceOur Army at War #83
(June 1959)
Created byRobert Kanigher (writer)
Joe Kubert (artist)
In-story information
Full nameFrank Rock
Place of originEarth
Team affiliationsUnited States Army
Easy Company
Suicide Squad
AbilitiesTrained marksman and U.S. Military combatant
Sgt. Frank Rock is a fictional infantry non-commissioned officer during World War II in the DC Comics Universe. He first appeared in Our Army at War #83 (June 1959), and was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert.


 Publication history

Sgt. Rock's prototype[1] first appeared in G.I. Combat #68 (January 1959). His rank is not given in this story; instead, he is merely called "The Rock." The Rock returned as a sergeant in Our Army at War #81 (April 1959)[2] named "Sgt. Rocky" with his unit, Easy Company (the precise US Army infantry regiment to which Easy belonged was never identified during the history of the character). In this last prototype appearance with the Easy Company (as opposed to the nameless infantryman with a nickname, as he was portrayed previously), the story was actually written by Bob Haney, but the character's creator, Robert Kanigher was the editor. He would go on to create the bulk of the stories with Joe Kubert as the artist. In Issue #82 (May 1959), He is called "Sgt. Rock" (Name only) and by Issue #83 (June 1959), he makes his first full appearance as Sgt. Rock.
Sgt. Rock steadily gained popularity, until, in 1977, the name of the comic was changed to Sgt. Rock. The comic ran until Sgt. Rock #422 (July 1988). In addition to the semi-regular comic, several "digests" were sold, under the DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest banner, reprinting stories from Our Army at War or Sgt. Rock. Some were subtitled as OAAW or Sgt. Rock, some as Sgt. Rock's Prize Battle Tales. (The Prize Battle Tales title was also used on earlier 80 page annual specials). The digest format was 4-13/16" x 6-5/8", softcover, with 98 full colour pages and no advertisements.
A 21-issue run of reprints followed from 1988 to 1991, and two Sgt. Rock Specials with new content saw publication in 1992 and 1994. A Christmas themed story appeared in DCU Holiday Bash II in 1997, again featuring new content.
According to John Wells, in Fanzing 36 (July 2001), an online fan magazine:
Sgt. Rock's complex family tree comes by way of creator Robert Kanigher, who added new (and often conflicting) branches throughout the character's original 29 year run. Rock's father was variously described as having died in a mine cave-in (OAAW # 231), in World War I (# 275 and 419) or in a Pittsburgh steel mill (# 347). Robin Snyder (in a letter mistakenly attributed in # 353 to Mike Tiefenbacher) suggested that one of the deaths occurred to Rock's stepfather and his existence was confirmed in # 400. As things currently stand, it was father John Rock who died in combat and stepfather John Anderson who perished in a cave-in. The third death, as theorized above, probably occurred to a father figure that Frank Rock worked with at the steel mill.
In at least one Sgt. Rock comic book published in the late 1960s, it was revealed that Sgt. Rock had a brother who was an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, fighting in the Pacific Theater. In this episode, Sgt. Rock told his fellow-soldiers about a weird combat incident that his brother had taken part in on a Pacific island, shown in the comic in a "flashback" style.
A Viet Nam soldier by the name of Adam Rock appears in Swamp Thing #16 (May 1975), though it's never specifically stated if he is intended to be a relative of Frank Rock.
DC Comics published Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion, written and drawn by William Tucci, starting in November 2008. The story places Rock and Easy Company with the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, which was surrounded by German forces in the Vosges Mountains on 24 October 1944 and eventually rescued by the Asian-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team.[3][4]

 Fictional character biography

During World War II, Sgt. Rock fought in the infantry branch of the U.S. Army in the European Theatre and eventually rose to authority within his unit, Easy Company. The unit was a collection of disparate individuals who managed to participate in every major action in the European war. Rock's dogtag number was 409966, which had been, it was claimed, Robert Kanigher's own military serial number.
Robert Kanigher mused in letters columns in the 1970s and 1980s that Rock probably belonged to "The Big Red One" (First US Infantry Division) given his appearance on battlefields in North Africa, Italy, and Northwest Europe. Rock's backstory was fleshed out in different comics over the years; generally he is considered to have come from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he worked in a steel mill. Enlisting after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he went to North Africa as a private but promotion came quickly as his superiors were killed, to assistant squad leader, squad leader, and then platoon sergeant. During the main series, his unit is only ever given as "Easy Company", but no regiment or division is named nor is unit insignia ever shown. Rock is shown to have two siblings (Sgt. Rock #421) Larry, a marine and Amy, a nun. In the 2009 six-issue mini-series "Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion" Rock's unit is still referred to as "Easy Company" but is of the 141st Infantry Regiment. However, in the closing pages of the last issue, the narration states that, following the end of the story, "As usual, Sgt. Rock's 'Combat-Happy Joes' moved out to fill the ranks of another Easy Company left fractured by war," moving them to the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division, under 2nd Lieutenant Audie Murphy.[5] A famous tagline of Rock's is: "Nothin's easy in Easy Company."
Rock also usually wears the chevrons and rockers of a Master Sergeant on his uniform and also applied, oversize, to the front of his helmet.
It is likely Rock's official position in Easy Company was of senior platoon sergeant though dialogue and scripts are usually vague on his actual responsibilities and duties. He usually leads patrols and appears to have powers of command over the men of the company. Several officer characters also appeared in the comic, as both platoon and company commanders, all of whom were regarded by Rock as superiors. Easy's commander was usually referred to as "the skipper" by Rock. Rock in turn was referred to by others as the "topkick", or senior non-commissioned officer in the company. Most infantry companies did not have master sergeants; significantly, Rock does not have the diamond of a first sergeant on his rank insignia.

Powers and abilities

  • Rock is a crack shot, able to shoot down several German fighter planes with a single submachine gun, and able to throw hand grenades with amazing accuracy.
  • Rock is a highly effective close combat fighter, mostly shown using a style of streetfighting mixed with boxing.
  • Rock seems to have close to superhuman endurance and strength, surviving large number of gunshot wounds, fragments from hand grenades, exposure to freezing water and other hazards. Rock's powers seem to be more realistic in Bob Kanigher's stories than in Joe Kubert's.


  • The classic Rock was usually dressed in olive drab fatigues, with a .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun (although sometimes he's been shown using an M50 Reising instead) and .45 caliber Colt M1911A1 Semi-automatic pistol as his armament. Oddly, the classic artwork almost always depicts Rock with an M-1 Garand cartridge belt which would be useless to him, as well as two belts of .50 caliber ammunition, which Rock considers lucky charms. Artists John Severin and Russ Heath sometimes attempted a more realistic portrayal of Rock's equipment, but the .50 caliber ammunition remained a personal trademark.
  • Rock is always shown with a number of hand grenades secured to his equipment.

 Fates of Sgt. Rock

The ultimate fate of Sgt. Frank Rock is complicated. There were initially two versions of the character, one residing on Earth-One and the other residing on Earth-Two. According to a number of stories, he was killed on the last day of the war by the last enemy bullet fired. However, DC has also published a number of stories incorporating a post-war Rock into the modern stories of superheroes, including appearances alongside Superman and the Suicide Squad.
In stories told after the demise of his own comic book, Rock's character was revived, explained to have survived the war, and went on to perform covert missions for the United States government. He also battled his old foe, the Iron Major, and went on an adventure to Dinosaur Island with his old second in command, Bulldozer. According to John Wells:
Kanigher had established Frank's post-war survival in OAAW #168, wherein he had Rock visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Bob Haney picked up on that fact in The Brave and the Bold. In issue #84, he'd had Rock and Easy cross paths with Bruce (Batman) Wayne during the war (in an episode obviously set on Earth-Two) and followed up with a present-day sequel in Brave & the Bold #96. In that one, Bruce arrived at the United States Embassy in South America and was introduced to "our Military Attache and Chief of Embassy Security ... Sergeant Rock, U.S. Army." Two subsequent present-day episodes found Rock tracking a Satanic figure that he believed was Adolf Hitler (B&B #108) and an Easy Company "ghost" that he'd been ordered to execute at the Battle of the Bulge (B&B #117). In the bizarre Brave & the Bold #124, Bob Haney and Jim Aparo actually guest-starred as Rock and Batman trailed a terrorist organization called the 1000.
Following this, he appeared as a general and a Chief of Staff for Lex Luthor's administration. However, Frank Rock was involved with an incarnation of the Suicide Squad. At the end of the title, he peels off a mask and walks away from the team, while his companion "Bulldozer," assumed to be the original, stands up from his wheelchair, comments on how it was good to feel young again, and also walks away. Whether this was the real Frank Rock in disguise or an impostor is unknown; the series concludes with the line "Frank Rock died in 1945." The use of the Rock character in post-war stories had one major effect on Rock's backstory, according to Wells:
All of the super-hero crossovers were more than Kanigher could take. In the letter columns of 1978's Sgt. Rock #316 and 323 and 1980's Sgt. Rock #347 and 348, he announced that his hero had not lived past 1945, blunting most of Haney's Brave and the Bold episodes if nothing else. "It is inevitable and wholly in character that neither Rock nor Easy survived the closing days of the war," he proclaimed.
Indeed in the letter column for Sgt. Rock #374, Kanigher stated that:
As far as I'm concerned ROCK is the only authentic World War II Soldier. For obvious reasons. He and Easy Company live only, and will eventually die, to the last man, in World War II.
The first use of the Rock character after the demise of the series was an issue of Swamp Thing, six months after the release of Sgt. Rock #422. The story was set in May 1945, intimating that Sgt. Rock had survived the war in Europe and raised the question of whether Rock transferred to the Pacific theatre.
In the backup story "Snapshot: Remembrance" in the retrospective mini-series DC Universe: Legacies #4, set during a reunion on July 4, 1976, it is revealed that Sgt. Rock did die, on the last day of the war, using his body to shield a small child who had wandered into in a crossfire. Easy Company learns later that the final bullet that killed him was the last bullet fired in the war. The other attendees are Jeb Stuart of the Haunted Tank, the Losers, Gravedigger, Mademoiselle Marie (and her son, who is a soldier and the others think resembles Sgt. Rock) and possibly the Unknown Soldier.[6]


 In other media


  • Sgt. Rock (alongside Easy Company) appeared in the Justice League episode, "The Savage Time" voiced by Fred Dryer.
  • Sgt. Rock appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Plague of the Prototypes", voiced by Fred Tatasciore. He and G.I. Robot team up with Batman to fight Nazi soldiers. After G.I. Robot sacrifices itself, he gets teary-eyed and continues to fight.


 Merchandise and collectibles

  • A line of 3-3/4" action figures bearing the SGT. ROCK name was released in the 1980s by Remco Toys, likely as a result of the popularity of Hasbro's G.I. Joe toy line. The figures had little resemblance to the World War II characters of the comic books. The Sgt. Rock figure was depicted in Vietnam-era fatigues and gear and had an M-16 rifle instead of a Thompson submachine gun. Other generic figures were sold, with no other characters recognizable from the comics. These US troops also had Vietnam-era equipment and helmets/helmet covers or berets, and were collectively referred to as "Tough Action Soldiers." "Enemy" soldiers were simply toys produced from the same molds used to make the US soldiers, painted black with blue helmets. Each figure came with a plastic dog tag on which purchasers could ink their name and rank. A serial number was printed on a paper sticker affixed to the plastic tag, which also came with a silver coloured string to suspend the tag around the neck. Playsets included plastic machinegun and mortar bunkers. The quality of these toys was very low; soft plastic was used, and joints had limited movement, especially compared to the much superior G.I. Joe line of 3-3/4" action figures.
  • There were also a range of diecast metal vehicles, produced by Universal Toys for Azrak-Hamway of New York. These were packaged on cards similar to the Remco Action Figures. The range included two tanks, a Jeep, a staff car and an ambulance.
  • In 2002, a limited edition of 12" SGT. ROCK figures was released by Hasbro, as part of the 12" GI Joe line, including four other characters from the comic book series; Bulldozer, Little Sure Shot, Jackie Johnson and Wildman. The figures wore proper World War II-era fatigues and carried the same weapons they carried in the comic books (though the Bulldozer figure carries an M-1 rifle instead of an air-cooled Browning .30 calibre machine gun). A female figure was also released, portraying French Resistance fighter Mademoiselle Marie, Sgt. Rock's only love interest during the comic book series. A number of playsets were also produced by Dreams and Visions in 2003, for either Sgt. Rock or any other 12" figures.



Sgt. Rock was ranked as the 183rd greatest comic book character of all time by Wizard magazine.[15] IGN also listed Sgt. Rock as the 78th greatest comic book hero of all time stating that Sgt. Rock represents the epitome of DC’s oftentimes overlooked World War II comics.[16]

 Collected editions

The series has been collected into a number of trade paperbacks:
TitleMaterial collectedPagesISBN#
Sgt. Rock Archives, Volume 1Our Army at War #81-96, G.I. Combat #68228ISBN 1-56389-841-1
Sgt. Rock Archives, Volume 2Our Army at War #97-110207ISBN 1-4012-0146-6
Sgt. Rock Archives, Volume 3Our Army at War #111-125228ISBN 1-4012-0410-4
Sgt. Rock's Combat Tales, Volume 1Star Spangled War Stories #72, G.I. Combat #56, 68, Our Army at War #83-84, 87-90128ISBN 1-4012-0794-4
Showcase Presents: Sgt. Rock, Volume 1G.I. Combat #68, Our Army at War #81-117544ISBN 978-1-4012-1713-6
Showcase Presents: Sgt. Rock, Volume 2Our Army at War #118-148520ISBN 978-1-4012-1984-0
Showcase Presents: Sgt. Rock, Volume 3Our Army at War #149-163, 165-172 and 174-180496ISBN 978-1-4012-2771-5
Sgt. Rock: The ProphecySgt. Rock: The Prophecy #1-6144ISBN 978-1-4012-1248-3
Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard PlaceSgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place #1-6144ISBN 1-4012-0054-0
Sgt. Rock: The Lost BattalionSgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion #1-6160ISBN 978-1-4012-2533-9


  1. ^ GI Combat #68 was previously thought to be his 1st appearance
  2. ^ Irvine, Alex; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1950s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "In "The Rock of Easy Co.!" written by Robert Kanigher and Bob Haney, with art by Ross Andru, the reader was introduced to Sgt. Frank Rock of Easy Company."
  3. ^ Tucci brings Sgt. Rock back in "The Lost Battalion", Comic Book Resources, September 13, 2007
  4. ^ Baltimore: Tucci Presents The Return of Sgt. Rock, Comic Book Resources, September 27, 2008
  5. ^ Sgt. Rock and the Lost Battalion #6
  6. ^ DC Universe: Legacies #4 (October 2010)
  7. ^ Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #2 (July 2011)
  8. ^ Cox locked up for WB's 'Rock' duty
  9. ^ Sgt. Rock Movie Update
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ http://www.videogamesblogger.com/2009/07/26/official-dc-universe-online-character-list.htm
  14. ^ Partial screen shot of the end credits of Predator with Shane Black
  15. ^ "Wizard's top 200 characters. External link consists of a forum site summing up the top 200 characters of Wizard Magazine since the real site that contains the list is broken.". Wizard magazine.. http://herochat.com/forum/index.php?topic=170859.0. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  16. ^ "Sgt. Rock is number 78". IGN. http://www.ign.com/top/comic-book-heroes/78. Retrieved May 11, 2011.

 External links



Sgt. Rock and all his friends.

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