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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The recent SGT. ROCK - THE PROPHECY collects the six-issue miniseries of the same name from last year. Rock co-creator Joe Kubert handles both the writing and the art on the story.

Kubert wrote a dozen or so Rock stories back around 1970, in the early days of his taking the editorial reins of OUR ARMY AT WAR, either stories he drew himself or drawn by Russ Heath. I'm not a big fan of those I read. Any number of minor problems, but the big one was that they just lacked the consistent voice that Rock's other co-creator, Robert Kanigher, brought to the feature.

That's still a problem here, but it worked a bit better, overall. The story is a little bit far-fetched. Rock and Easy, including two members never seen before, so you know they're in trouble, are parachuted into Lithuania in the winter of 1943 for a special mission, which turns out to be getting a young rabbi who is apparently prophesied to be the one to tell the world about Nazi atrocities out into the free world. I'm not sure exactly what "true story" the backcover is claiming this is based on, but I don't buy it. Anyway, their mission eventually takes them into contact with various war comics standards, including a cute puppy, a baby, civilian resistance fighters, kids forced to grow up too soon, collaborators and evil Nazis. One of the problems with telling a single long story with Rock is that it's a bit much when you pile all those in one story. It was much more effective when you have them in separate stories. But Kubert still does them well enough.

The main attraction is still his art, which is always a pleasure. It's hard to put a finger on it, but Kubert's artwork just exudes an air of comfort in itself, an organic completeness that you don't see from too many artists. Maybe Sergio Aragones, a few others. You know that they must work hard to get the effect of making it look so easy. It feels right to see him bringing back all the old tricks that he pioneered, and even trying out a few new ones.

The book isn't an all time classic of the form, but it's a nice solid work by legendary creator and well worth what it costs. If it's Kubert's swan-song to his signature character than it's a fitting one.

In the ranks of recent Kubert, I'd place this ahead of the Kubert drawn-only SGT ROCK - BETWEEN HELL AND A HARD PLACE book (which may have been better drawn, but the story missed the mark completely) but well behind YOSSEL (which might have been less successful than either Sgt. Rock story, but made up for that by being far more ambitious). I'll read JEW GANGSTER in a little while and see how it places.

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