I now start in on the books in “The Edge” group of DC’s New 52. (I should note that I mistakenly put Stormwatch in “The Dark” group; it should be in “The Edge” group.)
Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert created Sgt. Frank Rock in 1959. Kubert was especially tied to the character and Our Army at War, drawing it for many years. Rock and his Easy Company were inhabitants of World War II. Attempts to update them to modern times inevitably failed. With the New 52 we are getting Frank’s grandson, Joseph Rock, and a new team in modern-day warfare.
The first issue by writer Ivan Brandon and artist Tom Derenick focuses on how Corporal Rock gets recruited for an elite covert operations team and how he earns a battle promotion to sergeant. It is a gritty and realistic tribute to real soldiers, told in a straightforward manner with clean and detailed artwork. This is the kind of story that would be accessible to anyone. My only criticism is that Superman (well, presumably Superman—the character is in silhouette the whole time) flies in to perform some heroics to help out Rock’s team. I would have preferred this kind of reality-based book to be free of a superhero connection, but I suspect DC isn’t confident enough that this title will sell to a general audience and are including a superhero angle to entice the fanboys to give it a try.
Men of War will also include back-up stories that will feature a rotating series of characters and creators. The first issue presents the first part of a story about a Navy SEAL team on a covert operation. Writer Jonathan Vankin and artist Phil Winslade have produced a tense and exciting scenario that nicely complements the main entry.
Men of War is a well-crafted book that I hope finds an audience.
Jack Kirby created OMAC, the One-Man Army Corps, in 1974. Like much of his DC work at the time, it was bombastic and unconventional, and lasted only eight issues. Over the years, though, Kirby’s OMAC has earned a nostalgic following. OMAC has been revived over the years in a number of guises, but nothing compares to Kirby’s version.
DC apparently felt a need for a larger-than-life, brutish transformation-type character in the New 52, and OMAC is it. “Krackling” Keith Giffen and “Daring” Dan DiDio (DC’s Co-Publisher) have written an over-the-top narrative jumble, full of terse exclamations and people smashing things. Giffen’s pencils, as inked by “Sensational” Scott Koblish, faithfully channels Kirby’s bold, angular lines, exaggerated perspectives, and square heads.
If your tastes run to big, rampaging blue guys with a limited vocabulary, OMAC is for you. It’s a throwback to the enthusiastic, freewheeling comics of the Silver and Bronze Ages. Whether this will catch on with readers is a question. It depends on whether readers want a coherent story or one with crazy, manic energy. It worked for the Hulk; it could easily work for the new OMAC.