Sgt. Rock has been fighting World War II for a very long time. Since their creation over 50 years ago, Rock and his fellow soldiers in Easy Company have been combating the forces of Axis tyranny. In January of 2006, in the pages of “Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy,” a six-issue all ages mini-series from DC Comics written and illustrated by Joe Kubert, one of Rock’s co-creators, Sgt. Rock and Easy company head out on another dangerous mission; one that might shorten the war and alert the world to a despicable evil.
“The Prophecy” came about because of the 2003 Vertigo graphic novel “Sgt. Rock: Between Hell & a Hard Place” written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Kubert.
“Brian did a beautiful job on the writing,” Kubert told CBR News. “It kind of got me back into something that I hadn’t done for years and years and that I really enjoyed. So Karen [Berger] and me were talking, with Will Dennis, bouncing ideas back and forth. I suggested the possibility of doing a limited series of ‘Sgt. Rock,’ which would be comprised of 6 issues and then be combined in a graphic novel. This time around I felt despite the fact that I had a terrific time and it was great working on Brian’s stuff I felt this was something I wanted to write myself.”
Kubert based the “Prophecy” on a true story.
“The story is actually based on a true story that took place probably just before World War II broke out,” Kubert told CBR News. “A very Orthodox Rabbi was shepherded out of Europe with the help of some Germans with Jewish backgrounds. He was to be taken to the United States in order to make clear the beginning of the Holocaust and to try and make different countries and especially the Jews in different countries aware of the terrible Holocaust which was just starting.”
“Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy” takes place around 1943. The Allies have found a young Orthodox Jewish man that they feel could serve as a spokesperson to the world.
“It was felt by the Allies that if they could get this particular person out that he might be helpful in shortening the War by letting everybody know the horrors that were occurring. At that time the actual Holocaust having begun, there was a certain laxity that was occurring in terms of the recognition of the Holocaust having started to roll. It was felt that if somebody who was actually there like this bright young person; if they could get him out safely and let him speak to the world it might shorten the War.”
The Allies select some of their best soldiers to retrieve this young Orthodox man.
“Easy Company had just landed in Italy and they were selected as a group based on what they had done previously,” Kubert explained. “This happens in ’43 so they have been in the war for a couple of years now. It wasn’t a matter of getting a whole bunch of guys or an army down there. They needed to get in there and get out as quickly as they could.”
The members of Easy Company selected to accompany Rock include some familiar and new faces.
“There are some basics at Easy Company that are still part of the team so to speak. The initial guys like Bulldozer, Ice Cream Soldier and Little Sure Shot,” Kubert said. “There are about half a dozen plus two or three new members who are part of the team. It’s just a small group of guys who are dropped into a veritable No Man’s Land.”
The No Man’s Land they’re dropped into to retrieve their package, the young man, is Lithuania the scene of some of the worst fighting on the Russian Front.
“This was the opening of the Russian Front where the Germans were pushing to get to Moscow,” Kubert explained. “It was amazing the kind of things that were going on at that time. It’s been estimated that the Russians during that time lost close to 2 million people. In the area between Germany and Russia where there was Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, those places they were just going back and forth killing each other. This is where Rock and Easy Company had to come to pick up this kid and get him out. They find themselves in a position helped perhaps a little bit by the Partisans but being knocked around by both Russians and Germans.”
In addition to Easy Company and the young man they’re trying to escort out of Europe, the supporting cast of “The Prophecy” includes the partisans fighting in the area and their leader. Readers will also meet the leader of the German forces that stand in Rock and Easy Company’s way.
The tone of the “Prophecy” will be similar to the one Brian Azzarello struck in “Between Hell and a Hard Place.”
“I tried to do it in as realistic a form as possible to make the whole thing as credible as possible,” Kubert told CBR News. “I’m taking a note from Brian’s writing, in terms of extending the characters of the Easy guys; making them a little more believable and understandable, especially to current readers.”
Kubert suspects that it’s the realistic elements of the Sgt. Rock stories that are responsible for the character’s longevity and popularity.
“If I had to guess at it I would say that Bob Kanigher had tried in all the years that he had written the stuff and in my attempt in drawing it to make the character as realistic as possible,” Kubert explained. “That’s what we’re still attempting to do and I think that’s really the reason for its longevity. To me that would seem the only reason.”
Kubert is having a blast writing and drawing “Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy.”
“I only hope that people who pick up this book will get a kick out of it and come anywhere near enjoying reading it as much as I have writing it,” Kubert told CBR News. “The stuff that I’m doing now I’m getting more of a charge, more of a pleasure. I’m only hoping that after all these years of doing this stuff that I’m maybe bringing a little something extra to this one.”