Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The New 52 Review: MEN OF WAR #1


"Joseph Rock"
WRITER: Ivan Brandon
ARTIST: Tom Derenick
COLORS: Matt Wilson
LETTERS: Rob Leigh
COVER: Viktor Kalvachev
40pp, Color, $3.99

"Navy SEALs"
WRITER: Jonathan Vankin
ARTIST: Phil Winslade
COLORS: Thomas Chu
LETTERS: Rob Leigh

Men of War was a DC Comics war comic book series during the late 1970s, and there was also an All-American Men of War published from 1954 to 1963. Men of War is reborn with “The New 52,” DC Comics’ re-launch and modernization of its superhero comics line.

Men of War #1 (“Joseph Rock”) introduces Joseph Rock of the United States Army. Joseph is the grandson of Frank Rock, better known as Sgt. Rock. This issue describes the secret mission in which Joe becomes the new Sgt. Rock.

This issue has a backup feature, an adventure of the Navy SEALs in a three-part story entitled “Human Shields.” It finds four SEALs: Ice, Tracker, Litzau, and Reno investigating a school building in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. The building, however, is no school, but it does hold a H.V.T. (High Value Target). But this target proves difficult for the SEALs to acquire as the mission “goes south.”

Once a staple of DC Comics’ publishing schedule, war comics were mostly gone by the 1980s. Since then, they have appeared on occasion (thanks to creators like Garth Ennis). From what I gather, this new Men of War will be a part of the superhero line. To what extent, I do not know, and DC seems to be keeping that information on the low-low. But I’m sure that when they share, they’ll share with Comic Book Resources.

As for what is presented in Men of War #1, it’s intriguing as a concept, but is nothing special as a comic book featuring the U.S. military. For a first issue, there is too much hinting and not enough revealing. The characters are, at best, mildly interesting, and the story is really on a sliver of a larger narrative.

On the other hand, Navy SEALs is really good. Writer Jonathan Vankin fashioned a tautly written script that quickly reveals the characters and also establishes a military situation fraught with peril. Vankin puts the reader down on the ground with these SEALs and then makes you really care about their fate. Superbly drawn by Phil Winslade and colored by Thomas Chu, the art recalls classic war comics and reminds me of the art of Russ Heath. Vankin and Winslade should at least get their own Navy SEALs miniseries.


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