Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Men Of War #1 - A Review

Looking at Men Of War #1, I find myself wondering why the big comic book companies haven’t tried to revive the War Comic genre before now. I don’t mean books like Captain America or G.I. Joe – I’m talking about an honest-to-goodness War Comic, centering upon real soldiers in realistic combat situations.

An anthology series by design, this premiere issue gives us two stories. The first updates DC Comics’ most famous soldier hero – Sgt. Rock – for the modern day by introducing us to Joseph Rock. Grandson of the original Sgt. Frank Rock, Joe is a Corporal, repeatedly denied promotion due to a series of discipline problems. Joseph Rock is recruited for a special covert action, due to the actions of another Sergeant who sees something in the young man. Suffice it to say, Joseph is called upon to live up to that reputation by story’s end. The second, much shorter story, centers upon a team of Navy Seals.

For the genre, the writing here is above par. There’s not a lot of depth to the characters but there doesn’t need to be. Is Joesph Rock’s continual self-sabotage of his career an effort to avoid comparison to his famous grandfather or does he fear that he will not be able to live up to that legacy? The story doesn’t tell us and damned if he’ll ever discuss it. He is not that sort of man, to open up about such things. The Navy Seals are more developed, with our main protagonists – Ice and Tracker – being established as two men who disagree on much, but still respect one another for what little they have in common.

The artwork is a mixed bag. The artwork for the Sgt. Rock story is stylistically appropriate to the genre, by which I mean it is as gritty and ugly as War itself. What really sells this story is the coloring. The people and the backgrounds are, for the most part, painted in muted grays with the only vibrant colors being the red and yellow glow of fire and the green of the world seen through a pair of night-vision goggles. It is a choice that works well. By contrast, the Navy Seal story is more traditionally colored, with lots of tan and browns. Many of the panels in this story lack a background, with the vast majority of the panels merely showing the soldiers in-close up, making it difficult to tell the individual characters apart in the scenes with more than two soldiers talking.

Out of all of the DC New 52 titles thus far, this one has been the hardest for me to review objectively. I’m a long-haired hippie peacenik and damn proud of it. I’m missing whatever part of the Y-chromosome is responsible for instilling a love of war movies. I prefer Errol Flynn to John Wayne. To speak plainly, I’m not the target audience for this book. But I think those of you who ARE the target audience of this book – you manly men who like your heroes simple and your stories ground in realism – YOU will love this book.

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