Review: Sgt. Rock -- The Prophecy

Thomas Wolfe obviously didn't know what he was talking about, because veteran comics artist Joe Kubert has gone home time and time again.

Home to Sgt. Rock, whose World War II exploits Kubert has drawn off and on for a period of nearly 50 years.

The artist, who will be 80 this year, says he views Rock as "an old friend." And it's obvious Kubert has a deep affinity for the rough, always-bestubbled character and his wartime setting.

We fans who grew up reading Rock's exploits in DC's "Our Army at War" series are pretty fond of the guy too.

So it was a treat picking up this first issue of a six-part mini-series and being able to see Rock and Kubert back together again.

As ever, the action flows cinematically with Kubert expertly varying panel counts and sizes to capture a smooth flow of action.

The opening, two-page splash is one dramatic example. The main, huge, panel shows a soldier perched, ready to parachute from an airplane as those who leapt before him drift below. Three small vertical panels to the right depict the parachutists' descent. Kubert's got our attention from there on, as Rock and his guys hike through a bomb-ravaged Lithuanian city on their way to a mysterious rendevous.

The story is just getting started. We learn Easy Co. is supposed to pick something up and bring it home--something that can possibly help shorten the duration of the war. But in the meantime the guys need to negotiate a no-man's land between Russian and German troops. Kubert also hints at tension (racial, personal) within the Easy ranks.

And we see some action. An Easy Co. story wouldn't be an Easy Co. story unless the guys took out a Nazi tank crew. And they do just that in another splendidly drawn sequence excerpted below. Witness what Kubert does via shifting perspective, varying panel sizes and pacing--all without a word of copy. Young artists don't need to enroll in Kubert's cartooning school if they want to see how it's done, because the master shows them right here.

The colors, done by Kubert in collaboration with Pete Carlsson, are also just right: Very muted and mostly flat with lots of grays and pale army greens. They suit the setting and tone of the action perfectly.

My only qualm, really, is that we're still waiting for the meat of this story. I think we'll get to it in the next issue. But the action scenes here, great as they are, seem a little like padding.

The series likely will read a lot better once it's collected in a single book. But those of us eager to see Kubert at work don't want wait that long.

Still, whether you jump on board now or hang in there for the collection, I doubt you'll be disappointed. This is a wonderful opportunity to see one of the form's top practitioners (still) doing marvelous work.