Posted by: Joe McCulloch on November 1, 2007
I had a pretty great Halloween, for two major reasons. First: my younger sister stuffed her dog into a bumblebee costume, and took a picture of it. That is the authentic soul of summer’s end. Second: gummies and needles. Natural allies. We all exchanged candy at the office, and then I went right across the street for a flu shot. Holiday spirit flooded my body through the mouth and the arm, and I saw the Great Pumpkin.
Although… I dunno, I guess maybe I expected a little more from a Halloween flu shot room. Like, mummies and werewolves waving syringes around to the Monster Mash or something. Was I unrealistic?
Special Forces #1 (of 6): Kyle Baker’s new miniseries is an Iraq War comic. More specifically, it’s the Iraq War as a Frank Miller comic. Or, at least a modern action comic written via the Frank Miller paradigm of terse captions, waves of violence and an against-the-odds heroic ethos. It’s an ingenious conceit, framing the conflict in widely-adopted aesthetic terms dictated by comics’ top-selling hawk, as a means of creating disquieting absurdity. And I’m 95% sure I’ve seen an ad for this with a Miller pull quote on it. Was I dreaming?
The story is simple – the war is so shitty that anyone can get recruited, including an autistic boy, and a tough girl whose first day of high school had her facing life in prison. They and others go off to battle, and everyone I didn’t just mention dies in intestine-spilling fashion on the way to capture an insurgent leader. Can the pair survive?!
Sometimes the tale’s telling recalls older, gung ho war comics (some really nice limited color is used, along with a great sense of realist-cartoon exaggeration), as conveyed in modern terms. Other times, it directly targets more recent styles, what with its outrageously sexualized ‘tough’ heroine coughing out narration like “I listen. RIP! Bullet. CRACK! Gun. RIP CRACK. Echo.” There’s a splash of her laying in a pile of debris that’s like Miller to the 100th power without really looking like his art very much. Kinda kicked my ass, that.
Granted, I don’t know quite where Baker plans to go with this. It veers wildly from tone to tone, dipping into soppy melodrama and awful prime time sitcom shtick, only to hide some great, droll humor in the middle of caption flurries. But an irresistible premise can carry a first issue, and this is a VERY GOOD starting point.