Thursday, 3 May 2012

Project 52 - Second Wave: G.I. Combat #1

It was only upon Alex requesting that I review G.I. Combat for the second wave of Project 52 that I realised I'm not sure what G.I. stands for. And so I've gone in to reading G.I. Combat hoping to find the answer. Good idea? Well let's get into it and find out.

G.I. Combat #1 contains two stories, "The War That Time Forgot" by J.T. Krul and Ariel Olivetti, in which the US army fights dinosaurs and "The Unknown Soldier", written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and with art from Dan Panosian which is about a scarred soldier of relentless malice fuelled by revenge.

"The War That Time Forgot" goes by very quickly. After a very brief, rather bland character introduction, in which it's established that one of our protagonists has a family and the other is his friend, we follow the US investigating an area of anomaly in North Korea.When they spot Pterodactyls, the grossly incompetent soldiers think it's a good idea to shoot at the dinosaurs. This goes as well as one might imagine leaving our not so gifted individuals stranded in the middle of a war between the North Korean army and dinosaurs.

Luckily whilst the dialogue isn't to my liking Ariel Ollivetti's realistic artwork works well in a book filled with vehicles of destruction, giant Indosuchus, Tyranosaurus Rex and pterodactyls. His digital colouring might be jarring to those not used to it but it's the best I've seen of his recent style. The characters faces are smooth and expressive and whilst previously his photo referenced objects like guns or backgrounds seemed to stick out from the figure work, they now blend together more. I find it hard to complain about anyone who draws a fighter jet tearing through a pterodactyl. Guts, intestines and blood spurting out the other side.

"The Unknown Soldier" is a standard origin story told through two narrative devices which don't entirely mesh together. We're introduced to the Unknown Soldier as he ruthlessly and effectively kills Al-Qaeda soldiers told through a US soldier's letter home. A colonel then interviews the Unknown Soldier about his past, revealing his origins and the reason for his brutality. It functions similarly to a superhero origin and makes better use of its 14 pages than "The War That Time Forgot", feeling more like a complete story. There's a really nice touch of black humour at one point and a genuinely intriguing ending.

Panosian's art is kind of scratchy during moments of conflict but cleaner during flashbacks to a happier time in the Unknown Soldier's life making it quite effective. His action makes war chaotic but has few moments of depicted violence, often focusing on the person shooting than who they're shooting at.

G.I. Combat #1 is a bit of a mixed bag but there is something enjoyable there and it adds some diversity to the DC line whilst maintaining enough fantastical elements to stop it from feeling out of place. I still haven't learnt what G.I. stands for though. I'm going with Gun infested. 


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