Monday, April 8, 2013

A Comic Book Scavenger Hunt, A-Z: Guerillas

Title: Guerillas
Issue: #1
Release: August 2008
Writer and Artist: Brahm Revel
Store: 1000000 Comics (Montreal, Quebec)
Image via Newsarama

My generation was raised on Vietnam War stories, especially in the cinema: Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Good Morning, Vietnam and Born on the Fourth of July are just a few of the high-profile films which left an indelible imprint on our collective consciousness.  As such, there initially doesn't appear to be much new on offer in Guerillas.  All of the usual motifs are here: soldiers far too young on the march through rice paddies, surrounded by palm trees, never really sure who the enemy is or when they will strike, treatment of anyone Vietnamese as far less than human, etc.

And yet, there is something strikingly personal about this particular story.  We are introduced to the protagonist, John Francis Clayton, as a complete person.  In just a few pages, we see all of his misgivings about his new surroundings and also quite a lot of the background that brought him to this point. The action is certainly compelling enough to drive the story forward.  Then, on the issue's last page, the author completely drops the ball...

***SPOILER ALERT***

Chimpanzees!  First Clayton's unit is completely wiped out (except for himself) by a Viet Cong ambush.  Then the VC are similarly decimated by what turns out to be a troop of chimpanzees in full military garb.  It's bad enough that chimps are African, not Asian but after what had been surprisingly elegant storytelling, you give us chimp soldiers?  You've gotta be kidding!!!

***END OF SPOILER***

My scavenger hunt was pretty straight-forward: find single-issue comic books off the rack with titles starting from A-Z.  Go check out the rest of the participants in this year's A-Z challenge.  The official site is here

26 comments:

  1. That cover looks familiar, but, based on the date, that's not an issue I have. It sounds interesting, though.

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    1. Happy Monday!

      I was almost ready to stick with this one but the ending just killed it for me. I think war is a subject worthy of serious treatment in comics - it's been done. This one went too far, and with poor timing, to the satirical angle.

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  2. "A Vietnam war story where apes evolved from men?!?"

    Oh, I'd be disappointed, too.

    Not to get too off topic, but about 10 years ago, my wife and I got really into a slightly older (early 90s) TV drama called "Tour of Duty." It followed the careers of a group of Vietnam grunts all the way through their tours. Excellent characters, great plots, never preachy.

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    1. Dude, I love off topic!

      And this really isn't. I don't know "Tour of Duty" but I will agree with your broader point - there is so much potential for a good story here. Why fling this garbage at us?!!!

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  3. I always thought I should have a look at The 'Nam, Marvel's big contribution to this genre. But Before Watchmen: Comedian has proven to be exceedingly inspired.

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    1. Have you enjoyed the Watchmen prequels? I must confess, I've avoided them completely. I liked the original so much exactly the way it is - just a sliver of history in the latter part of their careers. I fear back story could only dilute that. I'd be interested to know your take on them.

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  4. Seriously, that is how the story evolved?!

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  5. Well, that's really disappointing -- even though I know how difficult a satisfying ending is to execute, especially when the set-up is particularly well-done. But the ending you describe here is a bit of a slap in the face.

    I also have to say I like this cover a lot, and it doesn't have an unexpected element as much as just sharp, clean, bold style and realism.

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    1. I also liked the art in this one. Indeed, I liked a lot about this one. But chimps? Really?!!!

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    2. I loved your last retro TV link. :)

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    3. Let me try that again. I can't type anymore...

      What I meant to say:

      Once I start down that road, I can't stop!

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    4. All right, well I see your Greatest American Hero and I raise you ...

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    5. Nice collaborating with you, Brahm.

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    6. I am going to wager you can guess my response to the Blues. Seriously, search your feelings, Luke. I know you'll come up with it before you click the link.

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    7. I should have known better. I guessed "Taxi."

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    8. Which in turn inspires my grand finale for the evening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ojc02OvZVo8

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