Ahoy there, fearless readers!
A strong candidate for “Best New DC Title That No One’s Talking About” is Men Of War. The feature story is written by rising star Ivan Brandon. It is vividly brought to life on the pages by Tom Derenick, Matt Wilson, Rob Leigh, and Viktor Kalvachev. The editing is handled with aplomb by Joey Cavalieri and Kate Stewart.
There’s a strong 8-page supporting story too, called “Navy Seals: Human Shields (Part 1 of 3)”. It’s cleverly written by Jonathan Vankin. It’s deftly rendered by Phil Winslade, Thomas Chu, and Rob Leigh.
Longtime fans of the Sgt Rock franchise, including yours truly, have just been served an artistic feast.
Page One gets right down to it, with the BEST dark panel that I’ve seen all year, anywhere.
And if it’s explosions that you’re looking for, Men Of War delivers in spades. Page Two sets the bar high and wide.
Behind enemy lines; a drop zone in a hot zone. A covert search-and-rescue op. Find the senator. And then get out. Don’t let anyone else see you. Sound easy? This isn’t exactly Easy Company.
Who is this Corporal Joseph Rock anyway? Only the grandson of a legend. The late Sergeant Frank Rock casts a long shadow across the pages of this not-so-funnybook. Grandson holds his own in this, his first foray into the hallowed grounds.
I salute the Men Of War creative team for numerous notable achievements in their storycraft.
First and foremost, the bookend technique is performed with precision. Two pages in, and two pages out. That’s clout. Nice touch.
Secondly, the villain. The villain in this tale goes against the grain of what anyone might expect, given the fact that it’s a war comic, and knowing that it’s about soldiers.
Thirdly, the commencement technique, accompanied by a priceless facial expression on Grandson, as if he’d just seen old Granddad’s ghost. And it’s the hook that’s bringing me back again for more next month.
Fourthly, the thought-provoking cover design, by Viktor Kalvachev (I love that name, and I can say it all the live-long day. Don’t get me started). See how the eagle bleeds into the gun. See how those dogtags make you quietly smile insde.
Lastly, the angular panelcraft, which adorns five of the feature’s twenty pages. It just feels like the right formula of mastery and restraint.
One area that’s perhaps a trifle lean is the character development. Chiefly, that’s because writer Ivan Brandon wastes zero time giving us a wartime drama that we can all stand up and cheer for!
Men Of War is well worth the time it takes you to read a brisk 20-page comic. And remember, the 8-page supporting story is no slouch either. I’m ecstatic to see Men Of War in print, and I’m grateful to DC Comics for taking it a chance with it.
As for whether or not Grandson saves the politician? We’ll find out, won’t we?
Final score: 9 Planets