By Mark Millar (Writer), Tony Harris (Art), Cliff Rathburn (Inks), and J.D. Mettler (Colors)
Two issues into War Heroes and I still have no idea what to think. On one hand it’s entertaining, shocking, and loaded with potential. On the other, it lacks memorable characters, tries far too hard to be “mature” (whatever that really means), and feels as though it’s being rushed through in order to fit neatly inside a six book mini-series.
This second issue covers all the bases for a stereotypical military boot camp story, with super-power pills altering the training exercises a bit. There are the shaky new recruits discovering what it’s like to be super-powered, a foul-mouthed drill instructor, a fight scene against a hardened veteran, and the expected bad apples of the bunch that are looking to make money by deserting after being given the pills. It all feels very familiar, almost generic, but it is also undeniably entertaining and shockingly hilarious at times (I bet you any money you won’t see it coming). I guess the best way to sum it up is that it is a Mark Millar book in the vein of Kick-Ass or The Ultimates. You should have a good idea what you are getting into just by seeing his name and the “Mature Readers” warning on the cover.
If you are a fan of Mark Millar’s writing style, then you will enjoy what he is doing in War Heroes. That said, I consider myself to be a fan, yet found myself rolling my eyes more than a few times at the “mature” elements of the story. His character work is also lacking, more noticeable now that as I write this review, I can’t really seem recall a single stand out character. I know what’s going on in the story and like where it is headed, but I just consider it to be character driven in any way.
As for the artwork, while not necessarily my style, it is quite attractive. The action flows well and everything has a fairly cinematic feel to it. My biggest complaint regarding the artwork is that almost all of the characters look almost completely interchangeable. Couple that with Millar’s indistinct characterization and you have a story with events that seem to lack a driving character force.
Overall I had a lot of fun with this chapter of War Heroes, but it is far from perfect. There needs to be some character development and fast or else the inevitable conflict will wind up feeling quite shallow. (Grade: C)
A Second Opinion
Note to self: NEVER read another issue of War Heroes while on the train ride home. I know the book has a Mature warning label on the front (albeit a small one), but when I shown why, I slammed the book shut and looked embarrassingly at the old lady sitting next to me. Luckily, I live in a town (San Francisco) where stuff like this is more accepted than not. If you read this book, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve got a phobia of the male genitalia, this book isn’t for you. I think this scene is meant to be shockingly funny, but it’s so overtly thrown in just to be shocking that it totally deflates (no pun intended) the intent.
I agree with most of Kyle’s points. The characters are completely forgettable – part of this is the Tony Harris’ fault, the other is Mark Millar’s for not giving them enough personality. So yes, this book is being kept more afloat on its concept/plot than the characters. But the last few pages, in true Millar fashion, are shocking – and that’s enough to make me want to come back next month. Oh, and the dull color palette by J.D. Mettler is awful. Not a fan. (Grade: B-)