My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I’m not a huge fan of Charlie Adlard’s work – I find his pencils on The Walking Dead almost as lazy as Kirkman’s phoning-it-in-from-the-beach writing.
Partly it’s because of his sloppy framing and weak portraiture – especially during action sequences – making it nearly impossible to understand who’s who or which direction we’re looking at through each frame. Makes a war comic pretty frustrating – like we’re supposed to genuflect at his feet and take the storytelling burden on ourselves in gratitude for his deigning to grace us with his scrawls.
I skipped right past the self-indulgent introduction writings from the creators – I didn’t want to bias my impression of their work with their overlong explanations, like what happens when a movie is so indecipherable that the producers tack on a heavy-handed narration at the beginning to make it digestible to the masses.
The real crime in this story is that with all these unfamiliar names and generically identical costumes, the only way to keep the characters straight would be art that actually gave us distinguishing characteristics (hair colour, a unique mark on a piece of clothing, a stark scar on the face) – none of which are visible in Adlard’s muddy, washed out art.
It’s like the very story is being buried under avalanches of Adlard’s smeared grey artwork, the same way soldiers in these mountains are buried under snowy avalanches.
Not that Morrison’s writing’s some buried treasure. His plotting and story are good, but the dialogue gets dull when there’s no action to justify its lack of imagination. The bordello scene was frankly a waste – generic soldiers with generic whores, doing tedious unremarkable things.
I don’t entirely understand the point of this story. There are already thousands of retellings of war, and there’s no special tales here – just a lot of the same moaning and tedium that makes war…grand?
The big reveal at the end is lost entirely in the shitty art, such that I didn’t even know who the characters were and thus lost all impact of what little emotional reveal there was in the generic “I gave up my ideals and so should you” speech.
Once it’s over I’m left feeling empty, and not how the creators intended. I feel like I got ripped off a decent story or any effort to distinguish this book from anything appearing on Saturday afternoons on the History channel.
I was too disaffected by this to muster up the energy to hate it properly for a one-star review, though, so 2 stars it is.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.