Monday, March 27, 2006

A Tale of Two Sergeants

I was interested to see that both Marvel and DC have seen fit to publish a miniseries featuring their best known WW2 soldiers. I picked up Sgt Rock: The Prophecy #1, as I am always interested in seeing what Joe Kubert is up to. It was good enough to keep me going and I am now half way through the series, quite interested to see where it is going. The only real problem for me is that the central figure here – the character named David – interests me the least. The whole religious/spiritual angle is what is supposed to separate this tale from all other ‘Easy’ tales, but it’s just not doing much for me. What I am finding to be quite fascinating, however, is the portrayal of the fight for survival in the Balkans. The encounter with the Lithuanians was wonderful and the cliffhanger at the end of Chapter Two added a very sinister atmosphere to the story. It’s pretty impressive to see that Joe Kubert is still able to produce such a high quality comic book. His writing is quite good and his dialogue seems to have evolved with the times. All in all, it’s a pretty solid piece of work. At the halfway point, I’d give it a solid B.

On the other hand, we get Marvel’s Fury: Peacemaker – which tells the story of a man whose love for peace is so strong that he’s willing to fight for it. No, wait – wrong character. This book has a very different vibe to it that the DC miniseries, and deals with the pre-Howlers experiences of Nick Fury at the outset of America’s involvement in WW2. I was not at all impressed with the first issue, and had I not bought #1 and #2 together, I’m not sure that I would have continued. The purposed of issue #1 is to show that America was perhaps not quiet ready to enter the fray. This is illustrated by some of the most convoluted and difficult to follow storytelling that I’ve seen in a long time. To be fair, if the creators were trying to show the anarchy of war – they did a good job. I had to re-read page after page to make any sense of the action. Luckily, aside from the ridiculous cover, issue #2 is a vast improvement as we get to see a little something called character development. Fury hangs with a group of British soldiers deep behind enemy lines in North Africa. Garth Ennis’ script starts to make more sense and the storytelling slows down to a reasonable pace (although the action scenes are still tough to follow). The artwork by the team of Darick Robertson and Jimmy Palmiotti is very smooth and shiny – I’ll file it under ‘Quitely wannabe’. The greatest asset are the British chaps, none of whom carry an umbrella, as they ooze confidence and war weariness and help give the miniseries a kick in the ass. I was not impressed at first, but it’s growing on me and escapes with a C+.


melvin p. mouse said...

I hadn't noticed that both Marvel and DC had WWII books out. The description of the Darick Robertson art as somehow Quitely-ish intrigued me. I may have to give it looksie. One of the things I've always enjoyed about Frank Quitely is that nobody really draws quite like him.

I'm glad to hear that Kubert's dialogue has improved. It was one of the main things lacking in his Fax from Sarajevo. Although after Yossel, Jew Gangster, and Sgt. Rock/Hell and a Hard Place, he's had lots of room to grow. amazing innit? For such a great veteran creator to keep improving?

Scott M said...

I just got the impression he was trying to mimic Quitely - I see that in a lot of today's artists (as well as the Jim Lee pretenders). For my money, I wish people were still trying to rip of Kirby or Neal Adams.

Kubert's dialogue isn't bad here at all - it pretty concise, but still suffers from a bit from the awkward 'trying to include everyone in a conversation' trap that has always plagued team war books.