GUNNER AND SARGEMedium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1959
Creators: Robert Kanigher (writer) and Jerry Grandenetti (artist)
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During the 1950s, DC Comics published several anthology comic books, without continuing characters, in the genres of romance, fantasy/sci-fi, and war. The latter two, at least, began sporting continuing characters
in 1959-60, peaking in the month of August, 1959, when new series were launched in Mystery in Space, Tales of the Unexpected, House of Secrets and Star Spangled War Stories all at once. But by that time, Our Fighting Forces had already been running Gunner & Sarge for three months.
The May, 1959 issue of Our Fighting Forces (#45) introduced a pair of Marines, a sergeant and a private, working together but otherwise alone, somewhere on an island in the Pacific. Their names were never given, possibility to emphasize an "everyman" aspect to them. Their introductory story was written by editor Robert Kanigher, who, besides DC's war line, also edited Wonder Woman at the time. It was drawn by Jerry Grandenetti, whose other co-creations include Prez and a very offbeat superhero team called The Outsiders (not related to later teams called The Outsiders).
Four issues later, they picked up with a German shepherd, who also wasn't given a name (tho it later turned out it was Billy) but, like the others, was addressed only by his function in the team, Pooch. After that, the series was sometimes referred to as Gunner, Sarge & Pooch.
Otherwise, it was pretty uneventful. Gunner, Sarge and Pooch hid from and fought an endless and expendable stream of Japanese soldiers until #94 (August, 1965), after which they were replaced by Fighting Devil Dog, who happened to be the younger brother of Sgt. Rock. And that would have been the end of them, if they hadn't been swept up into the first comic book team created for the purpose of housing former stars who had lost their series.
In G.I. Combat #138, The Haunted Tank rescued them (minus Pooch), Captain Storm and Johnny Cloud, all separately, from disastrous missions — unlikely as it may seem, since The Haunted Tank operated in Europe. Thereafter, Cap (from the Navy), Johnny (from the Army Air Corps) and the two Marines somehow banded together as The Losers, and moved right into a new series. The whole bunch wound up back in Our Fighting Forces, which had gone through a succession of stars after Fighting Devil Dog had quickly bit the dust, beginning with #121 (October, 1969).
They remained a part of that team, and the team remained in Our Fighting Forces, until the title folded, with its 181st issue (October, 1978). Several years later, they were killed in connection with DC's first big crossover series, Crisis on Infinite Earths. A few months after that, their deaths were ratified in The Losers Special (September, 1985). Gunner was later brought back, as a cyborg made from a reanimated corpse in The Creature Commandos, but that scarcely counts.
In DC's 2003 series, The New Frontier, they were killed off again. As comic book characters go, Gunner & Sarge seem to be pretty dead.