I found this one at my used book store a while back. I knew nothing about it and the cover art immediately had me interested. At first glance it looked like so WWII zombie story, but when I read the back I was even more intrigued and knew I had to check it out. The thing that bummed me out was that this is a two trade series, and they had the other trade but I done buy it. I have don’t that before where I go ahead and buy the second in the series and end up not liking the first, but this time I wish I had bought it. Sometimes I never seem to guess right.
Peter Milligan is a British comic writer who has written on nearly every title out there. Looking though his bibliography I think he has written for most of the major publishers and on a number of titles. I don’t think I have read much if any of his other works, but his body and sheer volume of work is solid. I could not tell if he was famous for a particular series, but if you are big comic fan I am sure you have read some of his other works.
The story opens up at the end of WWII were is seems that two German defectors are trying to escape. They are scientist that were working on a top secret Nazi project to create a super soldier. They succeeded but the war was already over, so they decided to give their secrets to the winning sides the United States and Russia. Years pass the with the break out of the Cold War leads to increased tensions between the two nations as they both create and grow their super soldiers. Two of the Russian super soldiers escape and are causing a ruckus in Talibistan, a country in the middle east in the story. Despite many attempts the US cannot defeat them now their only option is to reactivate their 40 year old program to resurrect their super soldiers.
When I found this one in the used book store I was pretty sure I would like it. The book just seemed to have that perfect match of blurring the line of history and fantasy that would make for a great comic story. The cool thing about this one is that is covers a stretch of history that I am not that familiar with, the Cold War era. Now, I am not saying that this is a history book by any means just that some of the events that happen in the story take place during that time frame.
I cannot rave enough about how well the story itself was written. It read like a novel while flowing wonderfully and keeping the story going. The story did jump around quite a bit but it was all with purpose despite my usual not liking this, I did not have a problem with it as the story continued flow forward, with nothing wasted. I am normally not a big fan of this but it worked really well for this story. There are flashbacks to many years ago, also different characters doing things at the same time, then at the end they are all slowly intertwined. This first trade is one of the better overall story engineering that I have seen in a while. The writer does a fantastic job of making so many different ideas, characters, and timeframes seem as if they may have very little to do with each other, but slowly they mesh and create a beautiful framework for a very detailed story.
I also felt the author did an excellent job of developing the characters. In only six issues he provides a very detailed past for most of the major characters as well as some of the minor ones, without boring the reader to death. This is very difficult to do. I have seen where there is not enough info on characters background, and I have also seen where there is too much and stops the story dead in its tracks to explain. The way it was done in this story was, dare I say, perfect.
Kind of a side note on this one is that this story was published by Wildstorm comics, which is no longer a company. It was started in the 90’s with titles likeW.I.L.D.Cats and Stormwatch, and being super into comics during that time I thought these titles were really cool and I have some of the first issues, that are worth, wait for it….. practically nothing. It was started by Jim Lee, but he later sold it to DC. Around 2010 the company shut down but when the New 52 launched in 2011 they rereleased some of the titles mentioned above. The point I am trying to make is that this book may be a little hard to find, and I am sure that many of you will have never heard of it. I know I would not have if I didn’t see it at the used book store.
The artwork in this one I was not the biggest fan of. It is highly and I mean super stylized. I have no idea how they even did it, although I think it could just be in the coloring technique. The more I look at it I cannot figure it out, but there is heavy use of dark shadows and using the black backgrounds to build a lot of the scenes. It also looks out of focus and very grainy which to me looks like there is less detail but when you look closely at each scene that is not the case. I would love to know how C.P. Smith did this but love it or hate it, you have to respect his creative ability. The colors are very drab, mostly dark colors that are faded. This is just an observation and honestly goes well with the artwork but I did think everything was overly dark. Smith used way too much black throughout the whole book, while I think this does set a serious tone it could be lightened up a little and keep the same tone.
I recommend this one. There is a very fascinating story that I fell was very well written, that seemed to flow like a novel or thriller movie. I will say that this theme has somewhat been done before, ala Captain America, but this is also a very well done new spin on this idea. The artwork is very unique and different, I was not a huge fan of it, but still does add a different feel to the story. Overall if you have some time and are looking for something different to read check this one out. It is a little hard to find but well worth the search and because it is a little older should not set you back too much cheddar.