Johnny Bullet
DC Comics
Unknown Soldier #9
By Andy Frisk

July 15, 2009 - 03:00

Publisher(s): DC Comics
Writer(s): Joshua Dysart
Penciller(s): Alberto Ponticelli
Inker(s): Alberto Ponticelli
Colourist(s): Oscar Celestini
Letterer(s): Clem Robins
Cover Artist(s): Dave Johnson
$2.99 US

In chapter two of the current story arc, “Easy Kill,” CIA agent Jack Howl, who is stationed in central Africa, introduces Moses Lwanga, The Unknown Soldier, to the militant group we met last issue. The group that wants Lwanga to kill Margaret Wells, this series’ version of Angelina Jolie, the real life actress, humanitarian, and UN Goodwill Ambassador, who has done much work in Africa. The group feels that, if they can get Lwanga to kill her, world attention would be focused on the region, and they will do something about the humanitarian violations that are a daily occurrence in the war with the LRA. The events of this chapter take place almost simultaneously with the events of last chapter, but this time we get Howl’s perspective of and role in the events. We also get some back story on Howl, how he ended up in Africa, and a look into his amoral world view. Turns out, he is attempting to manipulate Lwanga just a much as the group that wants him to carry out Wells’ murder is.



Hard questions, and even harder possible answers, are raised again in this issue. Lwanga visualizes what he would have to do to kill Wells, and Ponticelli creates Lwanga’s vision in a striking scene. The overriding question of this arc is: Is one life worth hundreds or even thousands? Perhaps, more importantly though: Will the ends actually justify the means? Ponticelli creates the scene of the possible killing of Wells with a full page split down the middle. One side shows the horrific image of 28 dead child soldiers, and the other side shows Wells being shot in the head at point blank range. Without ever raising the question directly, the scene dramatically and powerfully communicates Lwanga’s thoughts on the matter. While he tells the voice in his head, the voice that is of The Soldier, or his training, or his psychotic reaction to his training (of which he has no full memory of, by design) that he has “made no choice” on the matter, the voice responds with “of course you have.” He is obviously tormented over the choice, and course of action presented before him. His final decision remains to be seen.


The storytelling and art of Unknown Soldier cannot be praised anymore than it already has. It, quite simply, is one of the best of the many comic books being produced right now, and one of the revitalized DC Vertigo line’s best as well. What sets this book above the others in Vertigo’s line, and above many books outside of Vertigo, is that it is harshly realistic, moving, and honest. It takes a hard look at the current state of affairs in Uganda and Sudan, and creates an awareness of the horrific human rights abuses occurring in the region. This book should be required reading.

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