War Heroes #1
By Zak Edwards
July 25, 2008 - 20:09
So a single sentence changed the way I read this comic book and it’s right off the back cover. The sentence is this: “Millar, you fool. We should have done this for Ultimates 3!” Bryan Hitch, penciller for Ultimates 1 and 2. This changed the comic for me. At first, I was drawn because I enjoy Mark Millar, star writer of The Ultimates, Superman: Red Son, and Civil War. A colleague of mine likens him to the kid on the playground who comes and smashes other kids’ action figures and leaves. Yeah, the explosions of plastic were cool, but now no one else can have fun with them. Judging from the pitiful job of Ultimates 3, my colleague may not be that far off. But for right now, Millar is fun to read, and he’s allowed to use profanity again (outside of Kick-Ass), which is fun too. Thus, War Heroes, a period piece, our own, discussing the lack of motivation with the war in the Middle-East. The government’s solution: a very science fiction superhero pill for new recruits, not exactly an original concept, but this is Mark Millar, things will explode. So my reading became a comparison to Ultimates, trying to find the Captain America character, the Wasp character. They are there, disguised, but Millar continues the themes of the Ultimates with War Heroes, making this a great read. A note, War Heroes is full of profanity and violence, reader discretion is advised.
Millar uses his strengths for War Heroes, on being his ability to know how the world works in ways which make readers say, “Oh, that makes perfect sense.” This series is another example of this. America is attacked again and the public is tired of the war. Caught with this problem, the American government does what any gun-toting superpower would do, invade another country and get bigger guns. It’s not compensation, it’s the facts of life. Bigger guns this time is a pill which gives normal kids raised on video games and, well, comic books superpowers. It’s perfect, discussing the simultaneous losing battles of the war in the middle-east and the home front, and Millar does it with no holds barred. Great lines like “Never underestimate the stupidity of smart people” really drive home Millar’s thoughts on current events. While this was a theme in both Ultimates titles, the argument is much more poignant in War Heroes. Millar not only discusses the war overseas, but how people are acting back home as a renewed sense of hero worshiping soldiers occurring both with the youth and proud parents of soldiers who liken the front lines to “like playing video games.” Millar has crafted a less veiled look at the current world, extending the themes of his work on the Ultimates to a much less censored title, all this and he still managed to cram the comic book with his usual quota of violence, meaningless or otherwise.
As for the art, I have to say I am not a fan. The images in the panels feel as is they are stuck on, like the entire comic book is a sticker book. Things simply look put on top of each other in ways that are both noticeable and intrusive. The colours are also washed out and with little variation within the panels, appearing to be applied with the bucket function of the paint program. The colouring is frustrating, at times it seems to be copying the latest issue of Criminal, other times it’s the Ultimates, wrestling with a decisive palette. A final complaint is the faces of the characters, they have too many lines on them, as if the sketches were not erased and inked instead. Perhaps over the next couple of issues things will become more stable, really adding to this comic series rather than getting in the way.
7/10 Wonderful script, great idea with purpose, art needs to improve to match this.
Also, on a side note. If you liked War Heroes, I recommend Army@Love by Rick Veitch from Vertigo comics. A wonderful satire on the war in the Middle-East and sure to entertain. While more of a humour focus than War Heroes, the subject matter is very close, crossing over at times.
Last Updated: May 19, 2020 - 12:25
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