Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's all over for the...

Unknown Soldier #10, by Joshua Dysart & Alberto Ponticello

There is much to like about this strip (the one about the doctor in Uganda who suffers facial injuries and mysteriously finds himself transformed into a killing machine). The art is great, with an evocative style of its own, and the writer's sense of engagement with Uganda and its recent history displays something more than the superficiality of usual treatments of Africa in fiction. I am finding, though, that the story is not really going anywhere, and it is all still being a bit vague on where all this doctor transformed into killing machine angle comes from or is going to.

One of the real curses of Vertigo titles (of which this is one) is their tendency to revive lame-o characters from DC's past that no one really cares about or remembers. The Unknown Soldier here (guy with bandaged face who is amazingly good at dishing out death) seems to be some minor DC character of yesteryear. Ultimately I find myself thinking that this would be a better title if they just went with the Ugandan setting, even using the device of (black) American doctor in the country as a reader identification protagonist. The Unknown Soldier character seems not to have fully gelled with the rest of the story. I was saying that the Unknown Soldier's own mysterious origins seem to be still a bit underdeveloped, and this might be because the title has to put a lot of effort into communicating the Ugandan setting. Without the sub-superhero angle this would not have two strands pulling in different directions, making it a more coherent comic.

This will probably be the last issue of this comic I buy, which makes me a bit sad, as there is definitely much to like here. But such is life.

There is a preview in here of some new Vertigo graphic novel called Filthy Rich, written by Brian Azzarello of 100 Bullets and drawn by some Victor Santos guy. It seems to be one of those classic "low level grunt given job of minding boss's sexay daughter" scenarios, with said daughter being one of those attractive yet scary ladies who populate everything Brian Azzarello writes.

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