Main story by: Ivan Brandon (writer), Tom Derenick (art), Matt Wilson (colors), Rob Leigh (letters), Kate Stewart (assistant editor) & Joey Cavalieri (editor)
Navy SEALS back-up by: Jonathan Vankin (writer), Phil Winslade (art), Thomas Chu (colors) & Leigh (letters)
The Story: DC returns to war comics and one of them’s last name is Rock.
What’s Good: The most exciting thing about the new DC 52 titles is that there is a heavy helping of non-traditional superhero fare. Most of it is still in the same sci-fi vein (Swamp Thing, Animal Man, etc.), but the inclusion of a title like Men of War is all kinds of exciting for the comics industry because our hobby could use a LOT of diversification.
The highlight of this issue was really the Navy SEALs back-up feature. The main story featured a couple of negatives that I’ll discuss below, but this back-up was a pure war story. I can’t really comment on how accurate the depiction of Navy SEALs was, but this was just a quick story of American soldiers on a patrol, they get shot at by a sniper, one get’s wounded and the others have to go sort out the sniper. Good stuff, great art! Very solid war comic. More of this please!
The main story had some good parts and was enjoyable enough. It spends a lot of time establishing this Corporal Rock as a modern day US Army soldier who has a familial relationship to THE Sergeant Rock. Probably the best thing about this story was the US soldiers are the good guys. Sure, some of their commanding officers are dicks, but I am so sick of every fictional story about US soldiers have the token guy who rapes prisoners or the redneck racist guy or the drug-using guy. I’m patriotic and want to see positive depictions of the US armed forces… Sue me!
What’s Not As Good: I didn’t love the art in the main story. It is attractive… Perhaps a little soft, but still attractive. The trouble is a typical one of war comics: It was hard to tell who was who because they’re all wearing helmets. This comic probably could have used more establishing shots and a little more diversity in the characters. There is kinda a list of people to have in these comics: fu-manchu guy, black guy, red beard guy, guy with scar on cheek, etc. But, most of these guys were generic white dudes and I got them confused. Also, as much as a I appreciated the footnotes referring to actual military weapons, the drawings of those weapons weren’t quite spot-on. If you’re going to call out a particular weapon, you need to make it look precisely right down to the small details. In fact, the error is probably calling the weapons out in the first place. Just draw them 90% accurately and let them just be “guns”.
What I Didn’t Enjoy At All: Here’s a bit of a SPOILER WARNING… There are super-powered beings in this comic and for that reason I don’t think I’ll be back for issue #2. It seems like the goal might be to show what it is like to be an elite soldier in a world full of superpowers, but that just isn’t an interesting story because we’ve already seen elite soldiers in superpower comics: They get smashed by the Hulk, Superman, Wonder Woman, ROM Spaceknight, Wolverine, etc. We’ve all read those comics where the “Army” is summoned to control the villain or out-of-control hero and except in very rare cases where they have kryptonite or a special suit of armor, the super-powered beings smash them. So, that means that a comic about those dudes is just the same as reading a comic about weak superheroes or the redshirts in Star Trek and no one is interested in that at all. And, if the soldiers are effective at fighting superheroes, then it makes everything we’ve seen before just look stupid. Bad idea folks! I don’t want to cheer for B-listers in my comic books.
Why can’t we just have a plain old war comic?
Conclusion: I really enjoyed the parts of this comic that were content to be a war comic, but the inclusion of superpowers means I’ll stay away from issue #2. I’m not interested in reading the perspective of the guys who get mauled every time a super-villain goes on a rampage.
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