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Sunday, June 19, 2005

My Collection - OUR ARMY AT WAR [1952 Series]

Our Army At War [1952 series]
99 issues [1962 - 1977]
120, 126, 133 - 135, 137, 139, 141, 144 - 146, 148, 155, 158, 164, 171 - 172, 190 - 192, 195 - 198, 203, 213 - 225, 227 - 228, 230 - 241, 243 - 301

Wow, didn't realize that between this and SGT. ROCK I have 220 issues of the longest running American war comic, over half the total.

This book was an anthology of mostly unconnected short war stories for the first few years, edited and often written by Robert Kanigher and with several great artists, chief among them Joe Kubert. "Easy Company" appeared in several stories, but no recurring characters, although there were some Rock-like characters. Eventually things coalesced with Sgt Rock appearing as the topkick of Easy in Kanigher/Kubert's "The Rock and the Wall" in #83 (look, don't freaking argue, #81 doesn't count). ROCK became the regular lead feature, and through the years the OAAW logo became smaller and the Rock logo became bigger until they finally just changed the name.

Anyway, the previous post gave my background on reading war comics. As you can see from the list above I've got a decent scattering of issues starting in 1962, gradually getting more complete until the last 50 issues where there are just a few gaps.

Most of the covers I have are Kubert, of course, although my earliest, #120, is one of Jerry Grandenetti's last (he'd done a lot of them in the first 100 issues, after that Kubert did almost all). Russ Heath did some later, but not on issues I have. All three great cover artists, of course.

Kanigher wrote most of the lead stories, with some exceptions including a stretch around #200 - #230 where Kubert (now the editor) tried his hand at a few. The results weren't pretty. Well, they were, since either Kubert or Russ Heath drew them, but they aren't great Rock stories. When Kanigher was writing it was much better, as I mentioned with regards to the later ROCK series, with a few gems every year, several above average story and very rare clunkers. Kubert was the main artist of the lead feature early on, with Heath doing the occasional fill-in, then Heath being the regular for a four year stretch (plus a later "every other issue" stretch for a year). Doug Wildey, John Severin, George Evans and others did a few issues in there as well, before Frank Redondo started in the last year of the title, going on to be the main ROCK artist when the name changed.

Back-ups were of course a major feature of the book. In the sixties it was mostly standalone short stories, although a few issues introduced Enemy Ace. In the seventies there were three main series, Sam Glanzman's "USS Stevens", Kanigher's "Gallery of War" (various artists, many by Ric Estrada) and Norman Maurer's "Medal of Honor". Any issue with one of those is a good one. Also lots of extra features like two-page "Battle Album" spreads, some humour pages by Aragon├ęs and other stuff.

There were also several giant-size issues with reprint content which would often showcase the other DC war characters and some nice vintage artwork.

Just a few issues that jump out as especially memorable lead stories.

#133 - Yesterday's Hero
#158 - Iron Major--Rock Sergeant
#231 - My Brother's Keeper
#258 - The Survivor
#272 - The Bloody Flag

This is another one of the books where there will be no winnowing going on, and hopefully several issues will be added to fill the gaps before they pry them from my cold, dead hands.

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