Today’s Nerdery comes with a caveat: There are no superhumans in the ranks of Sergeant Rock’s well-traveled corps. But there are more than a few heroes. Welcome to Ten Things: Ten Supers of Easy Company!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with An Amateur Comics Historian and the late Robert Kanigher, who had some very specific ideas about writing, Presents:
TEN THINGS: TEN SUPERS OF EASY COMPANY!
A former steelworker from Pittsburgh, Frank Rock was forced into a command role when the officer in charge of Easy Company passed out in combat. He proved himself to be one of the most capable leaders in the history of the DC Universe, leading Easy throughout the war. Some accounts claimed that he survived the war to work for the Lex Luthor administration, but that Frank Rock was proven to be a charlatan. Multiple stories indicated that his creator’s intention was to show that Sergeant Rock was killed by the last bullet fired in World War II, befitting a character who embodied war comics for more than ten times longer than the actual war in which he fought.
A student of HIVE Academy in the comic book continuity of the Teen Titans Go! cartoon, Rock (real name unrevealed) works as part of a trio, with her partners, Paper and Scissors. She can turn her entire body into rock or transform specific parts of herself, with accompanying strength and invulnerability. She is one of at least three Rock/Paper/Scissors teams that I’m aware of, as well as one of MANY to go by the alias that the Sarge made synonymous with battlefield action.
Rock’s loyal second-in-command, Corporal Horace Canfield is a literal mountain of a man, Bulldozer is always identifiable because he removes the sleeves from his fatigues, and wears ammunition slung across both shoulders. His gentle nature belies his size and strength, though, as Bulldozer often acts as the heart of Easy, showing a strong affinity for protecting the oppressed and downtrodden. He’s not the first big man to be called Bulldozer in Easy, though, as an earlier member of the squad had that nickname as well. Rock has stated that he gives soldiers nicknames to help them deal with the terrible things they see and the acts they have to commit in battle, in the hopes that psychologically they can separate themselves from their time at war.
A member of The Gang, would-be crime lords of Chicago, Bulldozer (real name unrevealed) grew up in poverty, vowing to join with his childhood best friends and get rich. Superhumanly strong, his real power comes in his heavily armored head, allowing him to literally ram his enemies with his thick skull. It’s never been clear how he got his powers, but they proved sufficient to face down Supergirl in combat on multiple occasions. He holds the distinction of being killed by Lkz the Thunderbolt, but somehow gets better with no explanation.
A mild-mannered English teacher in real life, Harold Shapiro (also identified as Joseph Shapiro) gained his Easy nickname for the way he engages in battle, turning into a “wildman” and fighting with every ounce of strength. Rocking the full hipster beard more than half a century early, Wildman is one of the first canonically Jewish characters I personally ever encountered in comics and is one of the more recognizable members of Easy Company even today.
A massive giant empowered by the gene bomb set off by the aliens of Invasion!, Wildman (real name unrevealed) fought the Martian Manhunter, Joe Public, and Geist The Twilight Man, and was smacked down quickly by the trio. In a fit of what may or may not be irony, Public and Geist were also empowered by aliens, specifically the parasitic biting aliens from Bloodlines, while Martian Manhunter is himself an alien. It is my personal theory that Wildman’s disappearance came after a cease-and-desist order from wrestler Superfly Jimmy Snuka, but I can’t prove that in a court of law.
7) JACKIE JOHNSON
The former heavyweight champion of the world, Jackie Johnson is one of the rare members of Easy Company who never got a nickname. Jackie chose to enlist to fight the Axis and was welcomed into the ranks of Easy without any of the expected problems of the real world or of stereotypical comic portrayals. Indeed, Jackie’s debut in 1961 makes him DC’s first recurring black character, predating the debut of Black Lightning by a decade and a half. Though integrated units were a rarity during the second World War, they were not unheard of, making Jackie a trailblazer in-universe and out.
Like her nearly namesake of Easy, Jacky Johnson is a sort of high-flying Robin Hood, using her jetpack to rob from the rich and give to the poor as Jupiter Jet! With the technical prowess of her little brother Chucky keeping her in gadgets, Jacky’s story has more than a few unexpected twists which I’m not gonna spoil here. Suffice to say that, if you’re wondering how her pack works and why it can do what it does, you won’t be alone.
The answer will likely surprise.
Named for his spectacles, Four-Eyes (whose real name has never been revealed, as far as I can find) served with Easy for several years before perishing in combat. Four-Eyes isn’t the only enlisted man to die under Rock’s command, but he is one of the latest, with the story of his demise coming in 2006, thirty years after his debut. He’s also an example of the strange prejudice against wearing corrective lenses that was reputedly quite real and accurate during the 1940s. I mean, Jan Brady was still freaking out about glasses in 1974!
Growing up in New York in the 1930s, Enrico Savarese was only ten when his father was killed. In order to try and support himself and his mother, Enrico entered the dark, underground world of dragon-fighting, training a beast known only as Four-Eyes to get revenge. It’s the touching story of a boy and his dragon, one that probably doesn’t take place in our reality, because everybody knows real dragons have six eyes.
A full-blooded member of the Apache tribe, Louis Kiyahani gained his handle from his skills as a sniper. Though his feathers were a little stereotypical, Little Sure-Shot is generally treated with respect by Easy, occasionally reminding his “paleface” friends that his people didn’t start the war. There are, of course, the standard issue “Great Spirit” moments to be had, but Sure-Shot speaks in the vernacular and is as well-versed in the modern world as any of his fellow soldiers, making for another step forward for representation within the ranks of Easy Company.
A mutant with enhanced vision, Sureshot (real name unrevealed) hails from the crapsack dystopian future of Earth-1191, Bishop’s home reality. A member of the XSE (Xavier Security Enforcers), Sureshot appeared only twice, never returning to Earth-616 prime reality like Bishop and his time-traveling friends did. She is one of many mutants who are hated and feared while also being a beautiful red-haired woman with an incredible body, proving that prejudice is irrational… or something.
Lying about his age to enlist, William West wasn’t even seventeen years old when he was assigned to Easy Company. Sergeant Rock was prepared to ship him back stateside until the boy proved his mettle in the field and Rock grudgingly allowed him to stay in Easy. Only appearing a handful of times, Junior’s fate is unrecorded, but the unnerving conclusion is that he died in battle in an unrecorded instance, explaining why he never appeared again. Whether or not that means Sergeant Rock is responsible for the death of a boy barely old enough to shave is in the eye of the beholder.
A member of the short-lived Young Heroes team in the DC Universe, Ben Newton was a certified prodigy whose experiments shrunk him to about seven or eight inches tall. Unlike many tiny heroes, he has no ability to return to human size, but puts his keen mind and sharp eyes to work as an espionage specialist. Junior’s crush on teammate Zip-Kid makes for heavy drama that never quite gets resolved, though they were seemingly moving towards dating one another when the final issue of their book came out back in 1998. I still miss it.
3) TIN SOLDIER
An actor by trade, Randy Booth was drafted into the army and tried repeatedly to convince his Sarge and the other combat-happy Joes of Easy Company that he shouldn’t be there. Rather than get a Section 8, Tin Soldier overcame his doubts and proved himself a capable soldier, earning Rock’s respect and trust. Tin Soldier likewise disappeared from the ranks of Easy under unknown circumstances, possibly even in the same issue where Junior was last sighted (I’m not 100% sure, my online sources are sketchy on this point, and I can’t read every issue of Our Army At War just this second), making me wonder if there was a mission that went incredibly badly that we haven’t yet seen.
“Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend” entreats Billy Jack’s theme song, One Tin Soldier. (THERE it is!) A Native American ex-Green Beret who is also a master of hapkido and a fine judge of hats, Billy Jack is a hard phenomenon to explain. At the peak of his popularity, this One Tin Soldier delivered two number one films, made millions of dollars, and preached a pacifist lifestyle while kicking the living $#!+ out of everyone in sight. It’s hard to find a film series that was more financially successful while being so critically reviled.
2) ICE CREAM SOLDIER
A soldier whose home state is unknown, but likely in the Northern part of the United States, Philip Mason’s nickname was initially chosen to mock him. After showing off his skills in fighting in cold climates, Mason became one of Easy’s cornerstones, serving with Rock through the end of the war, notably at the Battle of the Bulge. Ice Cream Soldier’s demise has been shown in the comics, in a story presented in the early 1960s, but rather than chalk it up to fan outcry or forgetfulness on his part, writer Bob Kanigher simply decided that this story did reveal Ice Cream’s final fate, it just appeared out of order.
Clearly named in honor of Easy’s infantryman, the G.I. Joe team’s flamethrower trooper Tom-Henry Ragan specializes in lighting things on fire. As with Private Mason, his nickname earns mockery, but this Ice Cream Soldier relishes in showing people what you can do when your primary method of attack is a combination rocket launcher/flamethrowing device. As part of the Battle Corps sub-team (read: toyline), Ice Cream Soldier’s heavily armored uniform is part of a concerted effort by G.I. Joe to move away from realistic weaponry, a design sense that showed in the other characters of the line.
Another young soldier, Canary’s real name is never revealed, as he is always referred to by his nickname, or for those not into brevity, The Canary Kid. Though capable of silence in deadly situations, Canary always filled his non-combat surroundings with song, helping to raise the spirits of his fellow soldiers. Though Canary didn’t make it to the final issue of Sgt. Rock Vol. 1, he was seen in the penultimate issue of the series, giving me hope that he survived the war, went stateside, and got famous from the opening of The Andy Griffith Show.
One of at least four characters to use the mantle of Canary/Black Canary in the Arrowverse, Sara Lance holds the distinction of being the first. Her nom de guerre comes from her League of Assassins designation “Ta-er al-Sahfer” (reputedly “Yellow Bird”) and she worked with Green Arrow for some time before being murdered as part of a scheme by the wicked Malcolm Merlyn. Brought back to life by a Lazarus Pit, she struggled with her urge to kill before joining the ranks of the Legends of Tomorrow in their cross-time adventures. Now calling herself White Canary, she is the last original Legend left on the team and is now happily married to teammate Ava Sharpe.
Once again, this week’s topic, Ten Supers of Easy Company, is all me (because who else even remembers DC’s sixties war books?), but feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra to suggest your own! There’s always more Ten Things madness on my Twitter or check out the full Twitter archive here! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, although this one… This one probably is. Either way, the comments section is below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!