DC kicks off a month peppered with war comics that revive the DC war titles of yesteryear, and this first offering is a good one. “Our Army at War” used to house the tales of Frank Rock and Easy Company, and this issue reminds dustier readers of that fact while introducing Rock to a whole new audience. The first page is a reinterpretation of December 7, 1941as the Japanese bombers scream towards Pearl Harbor.
Turning the page, the image that waited for me on the spread punched me in the gut. It’s been nearly nine years since September 11, 2001, and America has done its very best to try to move on. No matter how much time passes, the image of the World Trade Center exploding, smoking, or in flames is going to trigger pangs of guilt, fear, anger, and sorrow. Marts opens the tale with a narrative about time, and in doing so reminds the reader that time doesn’t wait for anyone.
Juxtaposing -- no intertwining -- the tales of Anthony Sigliano and Keyon Jasper, two soldiers separated by time, but united in the cause of defending their country through the trials of war, Marts makes some eye-opening comparisons between World War II and the current conflict in the theater of the Middle East.
The World War II tale focuses on Anthony Sigliano who was inspired to sign up following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, while Keyon Jasper decides to bring the fight back to the terrorists following September 11. Marts narrates the tale well, staying impartial, bringing us through this story as an observer, rather than allowing us to peer into the thoughts of either soldier. The end result is a story that is riveting and includes a few surprises and heartbreaks along the way.
This comic is not a Sergeant Rock comic although Sergeant Rock and Easy Company cross paths with Sigliano. In the modern tale, Jasper meets up with Captain Duncan and his Gods of War, soldiers for hire who wander their way into Afghanistan. The meetings between Rock and Sigliano, Duncan and Jasper add further depth to this tale, linking both stories through.
Victor Ibáñez’s art is phenomenal, strikingly detailed, emotive, and crisp. I don’t know where Ibáñez has worked to this point, but I would certainly love to see more from him. He treats the entire story with precision and emotion, playing up the dramatic moments with flair. His work is equal parts Joe Kubert, Rafael Albuquerque, Freddie Williams, and Bryan Hitch. Ego’s colors enhance this tale, but the art itself would be strong enough in stark black and white. Ego’s work here adds depth, dimension, and emotion. This is a beautiful looking comic book that features mankind at his worst, embroiled in war. If this book is anything to judge this resurgent war comic line on, I’m really looking forward to more.
Although these characters are immersed in conflict, Marts makes the time for the characters to be human, to rise up, to remember, and to look forward. This book surprised me. I was on board with the Joe Kubert cover, expecting gritty and gruff, but the story inside was much deeper, more personal, and quite memorable.