Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Men of War #1

By Dan Horn
September 8, 2011 - 14:30

Grandson of the WWII hero Sgt Rock, Cpl Rock, has been pulled from active duty and entered into a covert para-military operation that involves super-powered beings and provides the basis for what might well be considered the graphical equivalent of Battle: Los Angeles.

So, what do the film Battle: Los Angeles and DC's new comic book series Men of War have in common exactly? Well, really there are two apparent commonalities:

Firstly, both perform poorly as genre mash-ups. In regards to Men of War, the story is a disjointed, torpid death march into the slightly esoteric climes of the DC superhero universe. Rock and his squad are carrying out some unspecified suicide mission or another with no discernible plan, fighting what look like Iraqi Republican Guard rip-offs. They're constantly putting themselves in danger while their posited ally Superman seems to hang back and simply watch them come within inches of dying several times before intervening in some nominal fashion. I'm trying to understand the structure of this mission, and I'm finding it impossible to do. You've already sent Superman in to clean up this military outpost; why send in a handful of vulnerable para-military contractors as well? I guess the para-military commanders thought it would make for some good suspense.

Secondly, like Battle: LA, Men of War really could have benefited from having a military liaison give this script a once over or from having some more military research performed. One of the advantages/disadvantages of being a veteran is seeing through really awful "military" jargon and perceiving misuses of terms and phrases. It's easy to notice when the writer doesn't know a whole lot about the armed forces and is just pulling things out of his ass. A writer like Greg Rucka is a rarity in the comics world. I don't know much about the man's personal life, but somehow he's got some great insight on military and police vernacular and scatology. Ivan Brandon, writer of Men of War, does not. A lot of bad cliches and counterfeit dialogue find their way into this book. I don't think anyone's ever cried "Frag out!" when firing an M203, I can't recall ever hearing anyone use the words "five six cal" in that way or in that order, and I'm pretty certain that a person can't fire an RCLR while suspended from a parachute. Recoilless doesn't mean it can be fired safely while floating around in the air. It's like a middle-schooler with a hard-on for the U.S. Army wrote this stuff.

All of that's not to say there's not a place for civilian-written military sagas, but there's a repugnant pretension here that you don't find in stories like Inglorious Basterds or Kelly's Heroes. I found the incessant explanations of acronyms and slang mildly insulting. If there's no organic way of explaining those terms and you really don't trust your readership to use any reference materials to find out what they mean, then stop using them.

The follow-up feature at the back of this book, written by Vankin and illustrated by Winslade, is equally groan-inducing, portraying SEALs bumbling around like idiots, getting shot by untrained nationals of a nameless, analogous Middle Eastern country, and casually spouting off hackneyed hero-worship silliness while patching up wounded comrades. Worst of all is perhaps the ugly, stereotypical caricature of a Muslim man using a woman as a meat shield at the end of this story. It conjures up some pretty derogatory imagery, reminiscent of the fanged Japanese from WWII comics of the 40s. It's really pretty disgusting.

The artwork by Derenick and Winslade is very inconsistent and almost amateurish throughout this issue and feels more like something you would see in a political publication from Bluewater Comics than something you should get from a comics publishing giant. I'll be incredibly surprised if this series survives another five months.

Rating: 2 /10

Last Updated: July 2, 2020 - 16:53

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