Sgt. Rock

For the Amalgam Comics character, see Sgt. Rock (Amalgam Comics). For the song, see Black Sea (XTC album).
Sgt. Rock

Sgt. Rock from Our Army At War #196, artist Joe Kubert (Aug. 1968)
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Our Army at War #83
(June 1959)
Created by Robert Kanigher (writer)
Joe Kubert (artist)
In-story information
Full name Franklin John Rock
Species Human
Place of origin Earth
Team affiliations United States Army
Easy Company
Suicide Squad
Abilities Trained marksman and U.S. Military combatant

Sgt. Franklin "Frank" John Rock is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Sgt. Rock first appeared in Our Army at War #83 (June 1959), and was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. The character is a World War II veteran who served as an infantry non-commissioned officer.

Publication history

Sgt. Rock's prototype[1] first appeared in G.I. Combat #68 (January 1959). His rank is not given in this story; instead, he is merely called "The Rock". The Rock returned as a sergeant in Our Army at War #81 (April 1959)[2] named "Sgt. Rocky" with his unit, Easy Company (the precise US Army infantry regiment to which Easy belonged was never identified during the history of the character). In this last prototype appearance with the Easy Company (as opposed to the nameless infantryman with a nickname, as he was portrayed previously), the story was actually written by Bob Haney, but the character's creator, Robert Kanigher was the editor. He would go on to create the bulk of the stories with Joe Kubert as the artist. In issue #82 (May 1959), he is called "Sgt. Rock" (name only) and by issue #83 (June 1959), he makes his first full appearance as Sgt. Rock.

Sgt. Rock steadily gained popularity, until, in 1977, the name of the comic was changed to Sgt. Rock. The comic ran until Sgt. Rock #422 (July 1988). In addition to the semi-regular comic, several "digests" were sold, under the DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest banner, reprinting stories from Our Army at War or Sgt. Rock. Some were subtitled as OAAW or Sgt. Rock, some as Sgt. Rock's Prize Battle Tales. (The Prize Battle Tales title was also used on earlier 80 page annual specials). The digest format was 4 1316" × 6 58", softcover, with 98 full color pages and no advertisements.

A 21-issue run of reprints followed from 1988 to 1991, and two Sgt. Rock Specials with new content saw publication in 1992 and 1994. A Christmas themed story appeared in DCU Holiday Bash II in 1997, again featuring new content.

According to John Wells, in Fanzing 36 (July 2001), an online fan magazine:

Sgt. Rock's complex family tree comes by way of creator Robert Kanigher, who added new (and often conflicting) branches throughout the character's original 29 year run. Rock's father was variously described as having died in a mine cave-in (OAAW # 231), in World War I (# 275 and 419) or in a Pittsburgh steel mill (# 347). Robin Snyder (in a letter mistakenly attributed in # 353 to Mike Tiefenbacher) suggested that one of the deaths occurred to Rock's stepfather and his existence was confirmed in # 400. As things currently stand, it was father John Rock who died in combat and stepfather John Anderson who perished in a cave-in. The third death, as theorized above, probably occurred to a father figure that Frank Rock worked with at the steel mill.

In at least one Sgt. Rock comic book published in the late 1960s, it was revealed that Sgt. Rock had a brother who was an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, fighting in the Pacific Theater. In this episode, Sgt. Rock told his fellow soldiers about a weird combat incident that his brother had taken part in on a Pacific island, shown in the comic in a "flashback" style.

A Viet Nam soldier by the name of Adam Rock appears in Swamp Thing #16 (May 1975), though it is never specifically stated if he is intended to be a relative of Frank Rock.

DC Comics published Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion, written and drawn by William Tucci, starting in November 2008. The story places Rock and Easy Company with the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, which was surrounded by German forces in the Vosges Mountains on October 24, 1944 and eventually rescued by the Asian-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team.[3][4]

The Lost Battalion also revives other famous World War II–era DC characters, such as The Haunted Tank, and "Navajo Ace" Johnny Cloud, and the story itself is mainly narrated by combat journalist William J. Kilroy, and German General Friedrich Wiese.

Fictional character biography

During World War II, Sgt. Rock fought in the infantry branch of the U.S. Army in the European Theatre and eventually rose to authority within his unit, Easy Company. The unit was a collection of disparate individuals who managed to participate in every major action in the European war. Rock's dog-tag number was 409966, which had been, it was claimed, Robert Kanigher's own military serial number.

Robert Kanigher mused in letters columns in the 1970s and 1980s that Rock probably belonged to "The Big Red One" (First US Infantry Division) given his appearance on battlefields in North Africa, Italy, and Northwest Europe. Rock's backstory was fleshed out in different comics over the years; generally he is considered to have come from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he worked in a steel mill. Enlisting after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he went to North Africa as a private but promotion came quickly as his superiors were killed, to assistant squad leader, squad leader, and then platoon sergeant. During the main series, his unit is only ever given as "Easy Company", but no regiment or division is named nor is unit insignia ever shown. Rock is shown to have two siblings (Sgt. Rock #421) Larry, a Marine fighting in the Pacific and Amy, a nun. In the 2009 six-issue mini-series "Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion" Rock's unit is still referred to as "Easy Company" but is of the 141st Infantry Regiment. However, in the closing pages of the last issue, the narration states that, following the end of the story, "As usual, Sgt. Rock's 'Combat-Happy Joes' moved out to fill the ranks of another Easy Company left fractured by war", moving them to the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division, under 2nd Lieutenant Audie Murphy.[5] A famous tagline of Rock's is: "Nothin's easy in Easy Company."

Rock also usually wears the chevrons and rockers of a Master Sergeant on his uniform and also applied, oversize, to the front of his helmet.

It is likely Rock's official position in Easy Company was of senior platoon sergeant though dialoque and scripts are usually vague on his actual responsibilities and duties. He usually leads patrols and appears to have powers of command over the men of the company. Several officer characters also appeared in the comic, as both platoon and company commanders, all of whom were regarded by Rock as superiors. Easy's commander was usually referred to as "the skipper" by Rock. Rock in turn was referred to by others as the "topkick", or senior non-commissioned officer in the company. Most infantry companies did not have master sergeants; significantly, Rock does not have the diamond of a first sergeant on his rank insignia.

Powers and abilities


Fates of Sgt. Rock

The ultimate fate of Sgt. Frank Rock is complicated. There were initially two versions of the character, one residing on Earth-One and the other residing on Earth-Two. According to a number of stories, he was killed on the last day of the war by the last enemy bullet fired. However, DC has also published a number of stories incorporating a post-war Rock into the modern stories of superheroes, including appearances alongside Superman and the Suicide Squad.

In stories told after the demise of his own comic book, Rock's character was revived, explained to have survived the war, and went on to perform covert missions for the United States government. He also battled his old foe, the Iron Major, and went on an adventure to Dinosaur Island with his old second in command, Bulldozer. According to John Wells:

Kanigher had established Frank's post-war survival in OAAW #168, wherein he had Rock visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Bob Haney picked up on that fact in The Brave and the Bold. In issue #84, he'd had Rock and Easy cross paths with Bruce (Batman) Wayne during the war (in an episode obviously set on Earth-Two) and followed up with a present-day sequel in Brave & the Bold #96. In that one, Bruce arrived at the United States Embassy in South America and was introduced to "our Military Attache and Chief of Embassy Security ... Sergeant Rock, U.S. Army". Two subsequent present-day episodes found Rock tracking a Satanic figure that he believed was Adolf Hitler (B&B #108) and an Easy Company "ghost" that he'd been ordered to execute at the Battle of the Bulge (B&B #117). In the bizarre Brave & the Bold #124, Bob Haney and Jim Aparo actually guest-starred as Rock and Batman trailed a terrorist organization called the 1000.

Following this, he appeared as a general and a Chief of Staff for Lex Luthor's administration. However, Frank Rock was involved with an incarnation of the Suicide Squad. At the end of the title, he peels off a mask and walks away from the team, while his companion "Bulldozer", assumed to be the original, stands up from his wheelchair, comments on how it was good to feel young again, and also walks away. Whether this was the real Frank Rock in disguise or an impostor is unknown; the series concludes with the line "Frank Rock died in 1945."

The use of the Rock character in post-war stories had one major effect on Rock's backstory, according to Wells:

All of the super-hero crossovers were more than Kanigher could take. In the letter columns of 1978's Sgt. Rock #316 and 323 and 1980's Sgt. Rock #347 and 348, he announced that his hero had not lived past 1945, blunting most of Haney's Brave and the Bold episodes if nothing else. "It is inevitable and wholly in character that neither Rock nor Easy survived the closing days of the war", he proclaimed.

Indeed, in the letter column for Sgt. Rock #374, Kanigher stated that:

As far as I'm concerned ROCK is the only authentic World War II Soldier. For obvious reasons. He and Easy Company live only, and will eventually die, to the last man, in World War II.

The first use of the Rock character after the demise of the series was an issue of Swamp Thing, six months after the release of Sgt. Rock #422. The story was set in May 1945, intimating that Sgt. Rock had survived the war in Europe and raised the question of whether Rock transferred to the Pacific theatre.

During the Imperiex War, Rock acted as head of the Joint Chiefs, volunteering for the suicide mission to pilot a plane loaded with nuclear bombs as part of a plan to crack Imperiex Prime's armor and drain his energy. In a conversation with Strange Visitor, he states that he would prefer to be dead rather than live for so long after the war and seeing so many other good men die while he survived. Following the victory against Imperiex, Waller oversees his symbolic funeral in Arlington with other World War II heroes, informing Luthor over the phone that Rock had no interest in being remembered and would simply want to rest in peace with his peers.

In the backup story "Snapshot: Remembrance" in the retrospective mini-series DC Universe: Legacies #4, set during a reunion on July 4, 1976, it is revealed that Sgt. Rock did die, on the last day of the war, using his body to shield a small child who had wandered into a crossfire. Easy Company learns later that the final bullet that killed him was the last bullet fired in the war. The other attendees are Jeb Stuart of the Haunted Tank, the Losers, Gravedigger, Mademoiselle Marie (and her son, who is a soldier and the others think resembles Sgt. Rock) and possibly the Unknown Soldier.[6]

Other versions


In the Flashpoint universe, Sgt. Rock was a member of Team 7, an elite unit of soldiers led by Grifter. Sgt. Rock and most of his teammates were ultimately killed during a botched attack on a Jihadist training camp.[7]

British Comics Character

Another character also called Sgt. Rock appeared in the British weekly comic Smash! from issue #156 (1969) published originally by Odhams and later IPC Magazines. This Sgt. Rock, who has no connection to the DC Comics character, was a British Paratrooper who was later shown serving with the S.A.S.

In other media



NOTE: Sam Fuller's 1951 picture Fixed Bayonets features a character named Sgt. Rock, played by Gene Evans, but this is clearly a different character.

Video games

Merchandise and collectibles

Cultural references


Sgt. Rock was ranked as the 183rd greatest comic book character of all time by Wizard magazine.[16] IGN also listed Sgt. Rock as the 78th greatest comic book hero of all time stating that Sgt. Rock represents the epitome of DC’s often overlooked World War II comics.[17]

Collected editions

The series has been collected into a number of trade paperbacks:

Title Material collected Pages ISBN
Sgt. Rock Archives, Volume 1 Our Army at War #81-96, G.I. Combat #68 228 1-56389-841-1
Sgt. Rock Archives, Volume 2 Our Army at War #97-110 207 1-4012-0146-6
Sgt. Rock Archives, Volume 3 Our Army at War #111-125 228 1-4012-0410-4
Sgt. Rock Archives, Volume 4 Our Army at War #126-137, Showcase #45 246 978-1-4012-3726-4
Sgt. Rock's Combat Tales, Volume 1 Star Spangled War Stories #72, G.I. Combat #56, 68, Our Army at War #83-84, 87-90 128 1-4012-0794-4
Showcase Presents: Sgt. Rock, Volume 1 G.I. Combat #68, Our Army at War #81-117 544 978-1-4012-1713-6
Showcase Presents: Sgt. Rock, Volume 2 Our Army at War #118-148 520 978-1-4012-1984-0
Showcase Presents: Sgt. Rock, Volume 3 Our Army at War #149-163, 165-172 and 174-180 496 978-1-4012-2771-5
Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #1-6 144 978-1-4012-1248-3
Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place #1-6 144 1-4012-0054-0
Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion #1-6 160 978-1-4012-2533-9

See also


  1. GI Combat #68 was previously thought to be his 1st appearance
  2. Irvine, Alex; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1950s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. In "The Rock of Easy Co.!" written by Robert Kanigher and Bob Haney, with art by Ross Andru, the reader was introduced to Sgt. Frank Rock of Easy Company.
  3. Renaud, Jeffrey (September 13, 2007). "Tucci brings Sgt. Rock back in 'The Lost Battalion'". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  4. Chapell, Richard (September 27, 2008). "Baltimore: Tucci Presents The Return of Sgt. Rock". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  5. Sgt. Rock and the Lost Battalion #6
  6. DC Universe: Legacies #4 (October 2010)
  7. Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #2 (July 2011)
  8. Goldman, Eric (September 9, 2016). "Sgt. Rock Will Eventually Make it to Legends of Tomorrow Promises Show's EP". IGN.
  9. Archived June 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. Collura, Scott (2007-04-26). "Sgt. Rock Movie Update - IGN". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  11. "Sgt. Rock". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  12. "Guy Ritchie Says He Has Lead In Mind For 'Sgt. Rock' Movie, But Budget Is Intimidating". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  13. "Sgt. Rock Gets New Setting at Warner Bros. | Animation World Network". 2010-02-02. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  14. "DC Universe Online character list". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  15. "Partial screen shot of the end credits of Predator with Shane Black". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  16. "Wizard's top 200 characters. External link consists of a forum site summing up the top 200 characters of Wizard Magazine since the real site that contains the list is broken.". Wizard magazine. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  17. "Sgt. Rock is number 78". IGN. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
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