I’m not usually a big fan of war comics. I’ve read a ton of them, partly because I read every comic that my grandparents had in their used book store when I was a kid, but they aren’t something I seek out. Of the ones I’ve read, I always liked the WWII comics the best and of those, I liked the Sgt. Rock comics the best. The new title Men of War looks like it is going to be an anthology series, each containing several stories, much like many of the old war comics.
I like the first story by Ivan Brandon and Tom Derenick quite a bit. It has Sgt. Rock’s grandson as the main character and it has some good dialogue. Other than the legacy aspect, what I like best is that unlike all those old war comics, it addresses superhumans in a war zone from the point of view of the normal soldiers. It feels like it will have a nuanced view of war and conflicts. It has some ridiculous feats by the soldiers, but those are excusable in a comic. I do like the feel of the first story, it feels like it is going somewhere.
The second story is much weaker. This one is by Jonathan Vankin and Phil Winslade and it tries too hard for one thing. War comics have a long history of stories about units that try to show how diverse the American military is with all different kinds of people from all walks of life and this one wants to be a part of that tradition. It tries desperately to make sure everyone has a nickname and to explain those nicknames. Despite that, it is a unit of 4 white navy seals who are unofficially fighting somewhere in the middle east. The other problem is that it is very heavy on narrative and exposition in that narrative while the soldiers walk around. It is as though the authors think they aren’t going to last long and want to get everything established before they are cancelled. What I like least is the last few panels, showing a local woman holding a gun. She drops the gun and says “help”. They show her from several angles and there’s no-one anywhere near her. In the last panel, there’s suddenly a large man, much larger than she is, appearing behind her and shooting at the soldiers. It isn’t enough that he’d been sniping at the soldiers, they have to have him hiding behind a woman. It is lazy writing and bad art.
This could be an ok comic, especially if there’s more like the lead story and they’re willing to explore what happens in war in a world with superpeople. If they go for generic stories that just try to play off older stories, it’ll be cancelled pretty quickly. Either way I probably won’t keep getting it beyond the second or third issue. At most I’ll probably get it through the conclusion of the lead feature’s storyline.