DC Comics’ “Sgt. Rock” was far harder stuff than the “G.I Joe” comics and toys that are more often associated with the 1980’s. They were the darkest and most violent comic books I read when I was a young kid, except maybe for the various “Conan” books. Hasbro relaunched “G.I. Joe” in 1982 concurrently with its toy line, and it was a famously kid-safe (and lucrative) franchise. “Sgt. Rock,” in contrast, consisted of brutal stories that focused on the horrors of war — it was really more of a cultural holdover from the comics of the prior two decades. (The title began as “Our Army at War” in 1959.)
I loved these comics — especially the larger “annuals” with lengthier stories. Nothing was better than “Sgt. Rock” and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. What occasionally puzzled me as a second-grader was that none of the other boys I knew seemed to be reading them — although a lot of other kids certainly hopped on the “G. I. Joe” bandwagon.
The last one pictured below, from 1981, was my favorite. If memory serves, it was the first one I ever owned.