“The Red Maple Leaf!”
|Script: Robert Kanigher
Pencils: Frank Redondo
Inks: Frank Redondo
Letters: Esphid Mahilum
|Cover price: 40¢
Cover art: Joe Kubert (pencils/inks)
Synopsis: Rock and Easy Company are retreating from heavy German fire when Canadian soldiers show up to offer medical support. While Rock’s men tend to their dead and wounded, the Canadians charge up the hill… only to get mowed down to a single man who presses on to attack the German position when Rock and his men show up to help. They wait until nightfall to advance, taking out the German gunners and securing the perimeter — but not before a German soldier fires a shot at the lone surviving Canadian. “It ain’t right for a man to die… without sayin’ a single word!” an Easy soldier says. No, Rock replies, he said a word: “‘Thanks.'”
Prime Cut Panels: Sniff. Darn these allergies.
All right, I’m the first to admit that most war comics leave me cold; I find it’s all just a lot of shooting and dying and soldiers asking why all this shooting and dying is happening. But panels like this, drawing from cinematic influences and showing the true tragedy of war? That’s good stuff.
Random Thoughts: So… we’re not going to see Rock and his buddies flying like armed pterodactyls? Huh. Okay, then. I mean, I don’t need to see Rock and his buddies flying like armed pterodactyls as seen on the cover, but it feels like a real bait and switch when you’re promised Rock and his buddies flying like armed pterodactyls and they give us a story about a Canadian hockey team dying on a hill instead.
Well, even though we’re not getting Rock and his buddies flying like armed pterodactyls I have to admit the Canadian nationalist in me appreciated seeing some of our boys in action. Yes, things are leaning a little towards the stereotypical — apparently all Canadians are hockey players and our French-Canadian comrades “zey all talk like zees, zut alors!” — but I’m not complaining. Let’s face it, when you’re a Canadian kid reading American comics you’re thrilled to see any mention of the Great White North in your funny books. (Ask me about the say I discovered that Alpha Flight was a thing that existed.)
The story is solidly paced and told with a professional’s confidence in his war tactics and terminology — no surprise, considering Kanigher was DC’s biggest war comics writer over the decades. He would continue to write adventures for Sgt. Rock and DC’s other war heroes until the last war comics sent up the white flag in the late ’80s.