The 13 Frights of Halloween: Sgt. Rock vs The Army of the Dead
Welcome to The 13 Frights of Halloween, the series where I share 13 comics that are spooky, creepy, unsettling, and much more. In this edition, we are going to look at the 2022 DC Horror mini-series: Sgt. Rock vs The Army of The Dead by Bruce Campbell, Eduardo Risso, and Kristian Rossi.
DC Horror is the DC Comics’ horror imprint line (clever name, I know). They only publish one 6-issue miniseries a year, but each comic has been tailor-made to feature unique talents that otherwise may not be found in comics. This time around, we got Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead fame. Notably, Bruce is not accompanied by a co-writer that you typically see for non-comic writers.
Sgt. Rock vs The Army of the Dead
Written by Bruce Campbell
Art by Eduardo Risso
Colors by Kristian Rossi
Letters by Rob Leigh
A Weird War Tale
It’s the final days of the European Theater of World War 2. Nazi Germany is running low on everything—People, Resources, and Time. With their backs against the wall, Hitler authorizes the use of a cocktail of drugs and implants to raise their once dead soldiers into the undead. These undead soldiers begin to attack the Allied positions and present a challenge in ending the war.
Now, this doesn’t sit well with Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. With the fate the war in the balance, Easy Company goes behind enemy lines to stop the undead Nazi onslaught.
However, what they find there may be weirder than they ever thought possible.
Exactly As Advertised
The story presented by Campbell is fitting of the long history of DC War comics with the focus on the supernatural and weird elements. The interesting thing is that the Army of the Dead here are not actually true Zombies (or at least in the Romero sense) but closer to Frankenstein’s monster variety. They align with the nature of the classic Weird War Tales and feel more accurate to the genre.
Campbell has a real knack for dialog and action sequences with a pacing like the old World War Two fiction it is going after. Humor is present throughout but very much in the one-liner sense and not in a comedic comedy. The horror is played mostly straight, even. Though the zombie’s may be comedic at times, they are presented as a serious threat if anything else but the seemingly endless loop they present. All in all, the writing is an excellent mix of action, levity, and horror.
Art of the Dead
Risso’s art is something special here. They went with a detailed art style but still loose and distinctively comic book with the hard shadows and clean line work. The action sequences are masterfully paced and clear to follow. Risso’s command of light and shadows makes the comic feel like a classic DC War comic. Then, there’s the violence. Risso knows this is a mature-rated comic and doesn’t hesitate to show the guts and gore. The violence focuses on the undead themselves, I mean it’s a zombie comic after all. If you are going to have Nazi Zombies and not blow their intestines out all over the page, are you even trying?
Rossi’s flat coloring with simple cel-shading compliments Risso’s art style. It is perfect at conveying tone, setting, and general energy of a panel. It’s one of those things I love to see in comics and is rarely used. Monotone panel colors are very effective at setting a scene and something that is unique to comics. It originally evolved from the old ways of coloring for newsprint but as time and technology progressed it has become less used.
While not done to completely emulate the traditional coloring styles of years gone by, the monotone and cel-shading helps complement the period piece nature of the comic. I love it and give the comic a timeless look that will hold up for many years to come.
Sgt. Rock Vs The Army of the Dead is an excellent horror comic that is full of action, gore, and dead nazis all beautifully rendered. This has been one of my favorite comics that I have read this Halloween season and I highly recommend checking it out. It’s available on DC Universe Infinite, Hoopla, ComiXology, and your favorite local bookstore.
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