The second wave of DC Comics’ New 52 is upon us and filling the vacated military comic spot of the canceled ‘Men of War’, is ‘G.I. Combat’, the title of which comes from a defunct DC comic that hasn’t been published since 1987.
The first thing you’ll notice when you see ‘G.I. Combat’ on your comic shop shelves is the cover. Instead of a realistic war, there’s dinosaurs! That cover tells you everything you really need to know about ‘G.I. Combat’. Whereas ‘Men of War’ was mostly a straight up realistic military comic, ‘G.I. Combat’ harkens back to some of those weird war tales and even fantastic pulp stories of the past. This makes ‘G.I. Combat’ a much more interesting read than ‘Men of War’, but the fantasy war tactic breeds mixed results.
This first issue is split into two tales. The first is ‘The War That Time Forgot’. Here we follow a group of US soldiers who get a word that there is a technological blackout surrounding North Korea. When they go to investigate what may have happened, they’re attacked… by pterodactyls! When their chopper goes down, two of the soldiers find themselves in the middle of one of the most unbelievable battles they’ve ever seen.
The best thing about ‘The War That Time Forgot’ is the artwork. Each panel is a work of art. Ariel Olivetti (‘Punisher: War Journal’) uses a paint-over-pencils style that fits the fantastic elements of the story wonderfully and evokes memories of those pulp covers that this comics was obviously going for.
Artwork aside, ‘The War That Time Forgot’ is good and would’ve made 10 year old me leap with excitement. But now, it comes across like a Michael Bay movie. It looks awesome and there’s giant monsters, but I didn’t connect with any of the characters.
The second tale this issue is the introduction of the Unknown Soldier into the New 52. Created by Joe Kubert and Robert Kanigher, this character has been around in the DCU since 1966. He was most recently featured in his own Vertigo series (and made a couple brief appearances in ‘Blackest Night’).
This time around, the Unknown Soldier first appears in Afghanistan as a sixth member of a patrol that was only supposed to have five. When found, his face is scarred beyond recognition and he claims to have no memory. But, being in a war zone, the Soldier proves himself a great ally before governments suits catch up with him and demand to know who he is. Then we’re treated to a brief origin story (but still no name) and the Soldier becomes a special agent for the US government.
‘The Unknown Soldier’ is a cool enough story from ‘All-Star Western’ scribes Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. But when half the book consists of a so-so story and the second one is merely above average, I’m still torn as to whether to stick around for this as a series or just wait for the trade to see what happens. So, until that decision is made, the verdict must be…
G.I. COMBAT #1
Written by J.T. KRUL, JUSTIN GRAY, and JIMMY PALMIOTTI
Art by ARIEL OLIVETTI and DAN PANOSIAN
Cover by BRETT BOOTH, ANDREW DALHOUSE, and ARIEL OLIVETTI