Unquiet On The Western Front
Hitler meets zombies in Bruce Campbell’s Sgt Rock vs The Army Of The Dead
BEST KNOWN FOR playing Ash in the Evil Dead films, Bruce Campbell wasn’t sure what hero to focus on when DC approached him about scripting what eventually became Sgt Rock vs The Army Of The Dead.
“It was something completely out of the box,” he admits. “DC contacted me as they were curious about if I’d like to bring any of their characters into a horror world, and they didn’t do that because I’m a comic writer, they did it because I’m a horror guy.”
Not an avid comic book fan like his close friend Sam Raimi, Campbell scoured through DC’S
Who’s Who of protagonists before settling on Second World War infantryman Sgt Rock, whose classic exploits in titles like GI Combat he remembered reading. “That was a whole new ball game, and it was really fun to take Rock and his Easy Company into a deep, dark horror world,” he reasons.
“He’s old school to the max as this guy can be killed at any minute by a stray bullet, as he has no superpowers. He and his merry men in Easy Company all have different skills and capabilities, and hopefully you’ll become familiar with these guys as we roll on. I’ve acted the hero before, and I have a sense that they have to step up and be above-average human beings. There has to be something about them that makes you follow them and Rock’s a pretty ballsy guy.” The story takes place in 1944 during the final months of the Second World War, with the Nazis increasingly desperate as the Allied forces close in. “There was all sorts of crazy shit happening in Berlin,” says Campbell. “It was a crazy city that had been half-destroyed by bombing. It was a place you didn’t really want to be, so that’s a perfect horror setting.”
Describing him as “a good nemesis”, Campbell’s depiction of the Führer himself is inspired by his actual, increasingly unstable state at the time. “Hitler had this personal doctor, who had about eight drugs in his system at various times,” he explains. “They would jack him up for rallies, just like Elvis, and had to put him down afterwards because he couldn’t sleep.
“He had antidepressants and amphetamines, and I’ve added a few more elements like growth hormones and some electrodes at the back of his neck, so you zap
In some continuities, Rock later served as President Luthor’s Chief of Staff and was a member of Suicide Squad.
I don’t actually know how to reanimate people
him and off he goes. But I don’t get too much into the science of it because I don’t actually know how to reanimate people.”
Noting that “they’re hard to kill because they’re dead already”, Campbell (who is producing but not starring in next year’s Evil Dead Rises) says that the titular Army of the Dead is very different to Evil Dead’s more vicious creatures. “Rock would have a much harder time with them, as they’re much more dangerous in Evil Dead. If you get possessed in an Evil Dead movie, you’re just trying to do bad things to people.”
The six-parter is illustrated by Argentinian artist Eduardo Risso. “I wanted the art to be as retro as the characters,” says Campbell. “Rather than some contemporary look, it should feel like you’ve found an old Sgt Rock comic in an old trunk somewhere.” SJ
Sgt Rock vs The Army Of The Dead issue one is out now.