A Tribute to the of

Remember when I told you recently [Sage #303] to check out the 6-issue series "Joe Kubert Presents?" I followed my own counsel, even though I don't currently have the luxury of a local comic shop and was not disappointed. Interestingly, while Joe is likely best known for his portrayal of Easy Company and Sgt. Rock, he only did one tale of the soldiers in this series and it occurred in issue #5, dated April of 2013.  Joe did all the art, naturally and the scripter was Paul Levitz.  Ironically the tale is titled, "Farewell."

We are initially in the modern day with a father and son taking in historic Normandy Beach.  We soon learn that their father/grandfather was in the wave of U.S. soldiers who landed on the beach and he was with the 116th…Easy Company.

The boy is asked to pause and close his eyes and try to imagine what happened on this hallowed ground.  As the conversation between father and son unfolds, Joe masterfully inserts small panels featuring them over larger ones showing what could be called a newsreel of the landing.  

At first the young boy asks his historian father to ease up on the lecture, reminding him he's not in class, but his Dad good-naturedly responds that he didn't mind his knowledge sharing when it came time to prep for AP exams.  His son replies that he wants to hear more about Easy, "…and the guy Grandpa was always talking about.  Sgt. Rock."  

The background on this panel shows the Sarge, flanked by the other men of Easy, including Little Sure Shot and Bulldozer as they work their way from the surf up the beach.  The dialogue continues with the boy noting that his grandfather's recollections placed Rock here on D-Day and that the sergeant had saved his life.  Dad replies that there were many stories of the fabled Rock and that none of those soldiers would have survived without one another.  "Learn about war from the beginning of history, Garret…and it's the same story.  Politicians dream…Generals plan…and the soldiers--?  The soldiers duck the gunfire and try to keep their buddies alive."

In the next full panel Garret and his father observe the seemingly endless rows of white crosses, "…the first American cemetery in Europe.  But, sadly…not the last."  Garret asks if Rock is buried there, noting that again, according to his grandfather, Rock died on the final day of the war.  "That's one version of Rock's fate.  Another is he lived to fight other battles. Many battles. Tell you one thing, Garret.  We can look at every monument in this graveyard…and I'll bet we won't find any with Sgt. Rock's name on it…  But…he's buried alongside each of these soldiers.  Rock's an American icon…a legend as real as Uncle Sam…and whether it was Easy Company, Able, Baker or Charlie…his spirit was in all of them."

It is then that Garret pulls a container from his backpack, possibly an old G.I. canteen as he prepares to spread his grandfather's ashes on this site.  

The final background art in this short but wonderful 8-pager shows the men of Easy Company hovering above the graveyard, including again Little Sure Shot, Bulldozer, Rock with his furrowed and war weary brow, Ice Cream Soldier, Zack and Wildman.  And of course, in the lower right hand corner that timeless little circle containing "Make War No More."

I can describe it and I can quote the dialogue, but I can't give you the feel from Joe's artwork on his signature character.  Once again, I urge you to get a copy of this and the entire series of Joe Kubert Presents.  The work by Sam Glanzman, Brian Buniak and Joe's other stories are also more than worth the price of admission, not to mention Joe's own "Inner Thoughts, et al" feature where he talks about his work on Rock, giving kudos to Bob Kanigher as Rock's original writer, much like he did when I spoke to him on the phone.  A humble man was Joe.  His remarks here are also worth checking out as he discusses working with Paul Levitz and the genesis of this story.  

Finally, I'm pleased to report that by the time this piece posts on the dear old Silver Lantern, Jon B. Cooke's new "Comic Book Creator" magazine, issue #2 will be available in finer comic outlets everywhere and/or via TwoMorrows website at www.twomorrows.com.  In fact, this issue will be unveiled in San Diego at Comic Con.  It's the summer edition, double-sized and it's a wall to wall tribute to the immortal Joe Kubert.  I'm pleased to report that my series of interviews with the Kubert School instructors are contained therein.  It's great to be a part of a special tribute to the master.  I hope you'll check it out, faithful reader.

If you have a particular remembrance of Joe you'd like to share, I'd be happy to hear about it.  Just hit the send button on your comments to professor_the@hotmail.com.

Thanks for your continued patronage and interest in this, the most wonderful era in DC Comics history and as always…

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2013 by B.D.S.

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