I’ve mentioned a few times before that I like comic-book anthologies (& prose anthologies, too), and this is a particularly nice one simply for the fact that it was written as a tribute to, and helps support, American soldiers. Produced by Clayton Murwin‘s company, Heroes Fallen Studios, this 72-page book features a collection of stories based on actual events from soldiers who served in the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The stories include:
AMBUSH IN KORENGAL VALLEY a 26-page story written and drawn by Jerry Bingham. This tells the story of a soldier named Rick Dewater, and how he lost his life while his squad was fighting The Taliban. Bingham does a great job in telling the story, it’s a fine mix between action scenes and character moments. However, I’d knock of a few points for the artwork, which is a bit sketchy @ times.
THE SPIDER is a 2-page story written by Louis J. and drawn by Rick Parker is a funny little tale told from the perspective of a camel-spider in Iraq. I loved it. BTW, if you don’t know what a camel-spider is, go here, and prepare to have nightmares.
DEBRIEFING is a 3-page story written by Robert Masterman and drawn by Adam Masterman. The story is told in flashback about a mission to recover some soldiers who had been wounded in battle, two of whom, Dale Kelly and David Veverka, unfortunately didn’t make it. It’s told in a rather by-the-books manner, with decent artwork. And it shows how difficult in jobs like this are while @ war.
HOW TO LOSE YOUR SOUL is written by Tomm Gabbard, and drawn by Joshua Labello. This 5-page story is based on the account of C.J. Grisham, a soldier who gets involved in a firefight with the terrorists in Iraq, survives a couple of REALLY close-calls, and comes face to face with “the enemy” and has to make a life or death split-decision. I won’t say anything else, for fear of spoiling it, but I must say this is my favorite story in the book. Well-written and well-drawn.
AIRBURST is a 4-page story written by Elliot Blake, based on a story by Brian Duclos, and drawn by Richard O’Hara. A quote from the dialog sums it all up better than I can. “Thirty seconds ago, she’s arguing with her fellow airmen…then suddenly she’s on the ground with shrapnel in her legs.” This story really show hows precarious the situation can be for our guys and gals over there. I think the creative team captured the feeling well.
WHEN WORDS FAIL is a 4-page story that is based on a tale by a soldier named Michael “Sudsy” Sutherlands, and it’s credited as “scripted” by Valerie Finnigan, yet there are no words, it’s all silent panels. I have to call this the weak-link of the book, I just didn’t think it worked. If you’re going to tell a story with just pictures, you need to make sure those pictures really tell the story. In this case, I don’t think it did, though I don’t know if the writer is to blame, or perhaps it’s the artist, Paul Shirey. But I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. A bunch of U.S. soldiers go to some camp, I think, and are confronted by a suicide bomber who blows himself up, and then they meet a bunch of kids. I think. Or maybe I’m just dense.
YEA , THOUGH WE DRIVE THROUGH A TIER ONE HOT SPOT is a 10-page story based on a tale by Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, and is also written by Valerie Finnigan, while drawn by Brian Shearer. This is the story of an Army convoy in Iraq coming up against possible suicide car bombers. Finnigan does a much better job writing this one, and Shearer’s art is decent. And the story has a happy ending. Very nice.
The last story in the book is A SHARED SKY by Will Perkins (art) and Mike D. Perkins (script). It’s 5 pages long, and it’s okay, but the only problem is the lettered. For some reason, the letters in the word balloons in this story seem much smaller than in the rest of the book. I kinda had a hard time reading it (I’m getting old).
The book also contains several pin-ups by different artists, a tribute on the backcover to Paratrooper Cody C. Grater, who was killed in Iraq, and the forward is written by the one and only Larry Hama. It’s not perfect but, overall, it’s a decent compilation, and a good read. And, of course, it’s for a good cause. I’d recommend it to any American comic-book fan who likes good war stories and wants to support our troops. Semper Fi, guys!
For more info: http://www.heroesfallenstudiosinc.org/