Friday, 6 April 2012

Fury or Rock?

Who is the best sergeant in comics?  Nick Fury or Frank Rock?  Do you like shirt shredding, ammo belt wearing helmetless sergeants or shirt shredding, ammo belt wearing helmeted sergeants? The Howlers or Easy Company? Stan and Jack's Marvel Age take on war or Bob and Joe's premier war icon? Let me know which Silver Age top kick you prefer:
Sgt Fury by Jack Kirby

 
Sgt Rock by Joe Kubert



Sgt. Rock and Easy Company
Art by Joe Kubert
Bob Kanigher and Joe Kubert honed the combat happy Joes of Easy Company into the number one Nazi smashing squad in World War II. In the absence of any officers Sgt. Frank Rock led Easy Company from one desperate situation to another across all fronts where the U. S. Army were engaged and some where they weren't.  Continiuty took a back seat to action and drama.  Kubert's art was stunning and Bob Kanigher built character through detailed traits (you either love Bob or find him repetitive, the repetition can be the making of a character e. g. Hans von Hammer in Enemy Ace, I suggest you read Kanigher in bursts, don't go for the marathon approach.  By the way I love Bob!)  Sgt. Rock first appeared in DC Comics' Our Army at War #83 (1959) and is the prototypical hard-bitten, tough, heart of gold, brave and respected sergeant in comics or is he?
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos
Pencil Art by Jack Kirby, inked by Dick Ayers, script by Stan Lee
Stan Lee recalls that Sgt Fury was the result of a bet with publisher Martin Goodman that Stan could Marvelise any genre, issue a comic with the most ridiculous title and be successful.  How true this story is depends on how reliable you believe Stan's memory to be.  Anyway it didn't hurt to have combat experienced Jack Kirby to draw the thing and thus Sgt.Fury and his Howling Commandos made its first appearance in 1963.  Jack may have been in combat and Stan may have served stateside in an army office but that didn't mean they allowed the facts that the U. S. Army didn't have commandos or that independent companies or platoons were led by officers (sound familiar) get in the way of rip roaring, fast paced adventures laced with trademarked Lee dialogue and Kirby dynamism.  This venture into the past threw up some continuity marking points beloved by devoted fans e. g. Reed Richards appeared as a young major in Sgt. Fury #3 (September 1963).  This gave Reed a definite age of forty plus in current continuity, how old was Sue?  The strip was a success and Stan and Jack moved on to other projects, Nick Fury emerged as an Agent of SHIELD and was somehow not as old as he was supposed to be.  Who cared?  Steranko and Kirby provided stunning visuals and everyone was spy crazy.  Was Fury the best sergeant in comics? Or Rock?
Sgt Rock by Joe Kubert


15 comments:

  1. Well, I hated Nick Fury's Howling Commandos, so I'll go for Sgt Rock, even though my knowledge of him is fairly limited.

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  2. The Sgt. Rock series was relatively realistic, at least by comic book standards. Sgt. Fury and his unit seemed more like super heroes than soldiers. So I vote for Rock. In all fairness, though, I have to agree that the series should be read in small doses rather than a marathon. Individually, the stories have an impact, but collectively, the repetition of certain plot devices becomes obvious. After all, the stories were intended to be read at the rate of one a month.

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  3. Ads for DC war comics would refer to Rock as the top kick of Easy Company. The term "top kick" (or "top sergeant") usually means a first sergeant, and Rock always wore master sergeant stripes. Maybe he was the acting first sergeant of the company, so "top kick" meant his job, not his rank. But then, he never seemed to be doing a first sergeant's job (a desk job, running the company). He was usually leading a platoon or squad in combat. So he was really doing a job below his rank most of the time. As for Fury, he was a buck sergeant and a squad leader, so at least he was in a job appropriate for his rank.

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  4. Some present-day Nick Fury stories said he used the Infinity Formula (whatever that was) so he was somehow not as old as a WWII veteran should have been. A Marvel Holiday Special in the 1980's or early 1990's showed him in a bar muttering about having led "the commandos" in the war. A couple of guys in the bar thought he was a fraud. (1) he looked too young and (2) US units did not use the term "commando" ("our boys was Rangers"). Actually, Stan and Jack knew that. "Howling Commandos" was the squad's nickname, not an official designation.

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    1. That comic with Fury in a bar (in the present time) was probably Marvel Holiday Special #3 (cover date Jan. 1994, on sale Nov. 1993).

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  5. Sgt Rock is hands down, the best comic ever!!!

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  6. By the late 1960's, the Sgt. Fury series did tone down the bravado. But by then, it was probably too late. The comic had gained a reputation for treating war as a romp. Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich may have even tried to introduce an anti-war message, but all that did was alienate the fans who liked the comic the way it was to begin with. And leftist, anti-military fans wouldn't buy a war comic anyway.

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  7. I had 80% of the Sgt Rock comics and couldn't get enough. Wish I still had them, my kids would love those stories.

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    1. DC has issued Sgt Rock in Showcase volumes (large, cheap, black and white paperbacks) and Archives volumes (expensive,colour hardbacks). Either way Rock is awesome!

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    2. DC also published a series of Sgt. Rock Specials (1988-91) and a digest-sized Sgt. Rock's Combat Tales (2005). All reprinted classic war stories from Our Army at War and other DC war comics.

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    3. DC have also issued Showcase volumes of Our Army at War, The Losers, Unknown Soldier, The War that Time Forgot, Enemy Ace and two volumes of Haunted Tank. Brilliant stuff!

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    4. add sgt.hawk by patrick clay to the list.i like them all.best of the bunch?jim masters the sarge from battle picture weekly.

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  8. It's a good story that Sgt. Fury was created on a bet between Stan Lee and Martin Goodman. But, for it to be true, you have to accept that Goodman would bet against his own company publishing a successful comic, and that he published it with the expectation that it would fail. And war comics seem to have been selling well for DC at the time, so there was no reason to think that Sgt. Fury was a bad risk. If there was a bet, it may have been an informal "loser buys lunch" agreement, rather than a big wager. Who knows?

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  9. Hello there! Do you usuallyutilize online social media websites?

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  10. Loved Sgt. Rock and I'm from India!

    Truly an inspiring charecter. Anyone read 'Peace on Earth'? Probably the best that comics can be.....

    Rock>Fury anytime. Though I enjoy Fury as well.

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