DC Horror is back with a new take on some classic characters! Sgt. Rock and Easy Company have faced down some of the nastiest villains that World War II can throw at them, but they’ve never seen anything like this. As Hitler builds an army of undead soldiers, Rock and the boys will have to arm themselves for a battle of apocalyptic proportions!
First things first: This has been one of my most anticipated titles since it was first announced. Who knows more about tangling with the undead than the King himself, Bruce Campbell? Not to mention, he’s 1000% the fella that Hollywood should have called to play Sgt. Rock on the silver screen. With that in mind, it made perfect sense to me that these elements would combine into a pulpy adventure, and I’m always excited to see more DC Horror. So how did this introductory issue by horror legend Bruce Campbell and superstar artist Eduardo Risso pan out? Read on, if you dare!
There’s a lot of fun to be had here from the very start, as the issue kicks off with a disturbing sequence of dark humor involving a supercharged Adolf Hitler and an unfortunate subordinate. The leader of the Nazis is seen in shadow for much of this scene, only brief glimpses of his eyes and facial hair appearing in the light. It immediately sets a tone for the book, and it’s the more splatter-y scenes in this issue that really left a mark on this first read. Risso clearly has as much fun drawing these supernatural abominations as Campbell has dreaming them up. Meanwhile, Kristian Rossi bathes everything in spooky supernatural hues that enhances the whole vibe of the piece. The early scenes with Rock and his team feel appropriately dusty, while the various bits of mad science have a perfectly eerie glow to them. It’s obvious that the creative team is 100% on the same tonal wavelength.
Things dip a bit, unfortunately, when we are properly introduced to Easy Company. Outside of some of the more action and horror-oriented bits, this first issue didn’t do much to grab me. The different members of Rock’s crew aren’t particularly well-defined, with many of them serving as extra bodies cluttering up the scenes in which the team goes over their plan. Granted, the original members of Easy Company slotted neatly into archetypes, but there were actually moments in this issue where I wasn’t sure which of the guys in the panel was Rock himself.
A lot of the characters kind of blend together in the big group scenes, with many of them spouting off generic “tough guy” dialogue and exposition that seems designed to keep the scene moving along. It was only when someone specifically addressed Rock or Hot-Head that I was able to pinpoint them in particular, and Rock kind of comes across like a supporting character in his own book. That would be fine if this read more like an ensemble piece, but it ultimately does not.
Granted, there is a lot of B movie charm to be mined from these scenes, especially as the boys of Easy Company admire their new equipment and gawk at the impossibility of their new enemy. Perhaps some of my issues with characterization will be resolved once Rock and co. get out into the field and take on the forces of evil, because that appears to be where they truly come alive (no pun intended) in this first chapter. At the moment, it’s just kind of difficult to get a feel for anyone’s personality.
The last few pages offer a few more teases for what lies ahead, and the book is at its strongest when delivering goopy science fiction imagery and concepts. I’ll definitely give this another shot with next month’s issue, but my expectations have been tempered just a bit by Sgt. Rock vs. The Army of the Dead‘s opening salvo.
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