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Who are you callin’ a dummy, dummy? – Sgt. Rock #349

March 29, 2011

 

The adventures of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company often had a stark realism about them, a quality that made me avert my youthful eyes. I never cared much for this genre, but I’ve gron to appreciate it in this thing called “adulthood.” War isn’t pretty, and Rock and his boys often saw ugly stuff in stories that frequently had the comics equivalent of cinema vérité.

This is not one of those stories. The cover says it all. You wouldn’t think that ventriloquy and front line combat would go hand in hand, but who am I to argue?

Ready yourselves for the usual jokes about Minwax and sawdust.

“The Dummy” (Script: Bob Kanigher, Art: Frank Redondo) opens with a new G.I. joining Rock and Easy Company in the European Theatre’s combat zone:

Despite Rock’s misgivings about whether or not this guy (these guys?) is (are?) going to fit in, things take a welcome turn when the dummy starts cracking wise:

Notice how different this dummy is from Joe Kubert’s cover dummy. This one seems more a small wooden caricature of the Japanese enemy (something that’s never commented on), while the cover has a more Caucasian (or Dennis Kucinich) look. Just something to ponder.

Anyway, rather than the dummy getting his head ripped off by surly and bullet-frazzled troops, he instead quickly becomes a big mouth mascot for Easy Company. But make no mistake, this duo can pull it’s own weight, as the flesh and blood half mans a B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle — yes, I had to look it up). His mettle is proven when he helps down a strafing fighter plane, and later he’s the last line of defense when advancing Germans are threatening to cross a bridge and crush the pinned-down soldiers:

The Huns are driven back, but at a tragic price. The new G.I. has made the ultimate sacrifice before we even learned his name. Easy Company erects a final, improvised tribute, one that’s simultaneously sad, funny and creepy — a lot like vent figures, come to think of it:

There are several other stories in the issue — two more downbeat affairs and one humorous story that isn’t all that humorous. I thought the following Kanigher-scripted minor key short, “Taps for a Bugler,” about buglers seizing common ground across the chasm of war, was kind of neat. An American bugler in Korea is having a hard time hitting the right notes, and when the enemy attacks he has some grudging admiration for his counterpart:

After the battle the buglers connect with one another:

Not bad. It helps make this issue a little heavy on the pathos, but not in a terrible way.

There’s a bit of Batman’s Scarface in the feature’s handler/dummy pair, with the former the completely silent partner among the two. Maybe there’s even a little bit of Mel Gibson in the upcoming The Beaver in there as well, though there’s no indication that this fella ever hurled slurs at highway patrolmen and hot Russian exes. In any case, though Sgt. Rock wasn’t on my “pull list” as a kid (as if I ever had a pull list at the newsstand), reading this one was rather fun. It’s really hard to look at a DC war comic in which Joe Kubert’s involved in even the most miniscule of capacities and not find something to enjoy, but this one had more than just something. Silliness, yes, but a good kind.

If there’s one conclusion we can draw from the feature’s outwardly odd fusion, it’s this — wouldn’t the ending of Saving Private Ryan (i.e. the bridge/Tom Hanks/tank/sidearm scene) have been better if our dying star had had a dummy on his other hand? And the dummy was talking as Hanks drew his last breaths, in a morbid takeoff of the old “glass of water” bit? A boy can dream, can’t he?

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 20, 2011 2:58 pm

    Joe Kubert has been the artist drawing PS Magazine for ten years. He came to Huntsville, AL to meet the staff and to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the military magazine on equipment maintenance.

    http://halfmastpsmag.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/half-masts-pictures-of-ps-magazines-60th-anniversary-celebration/

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