"The Talibstan Terror"
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: C.P. Smith, Jony Rench (colors)
Publisher: DC Comics/WildStorm
The Programme is a bag of contradictions that doesnít make for a great first issue, but still a somewhat enjoyable read. It takes turns that are satirical and serious, hateful and hopeful, which may very well leave the reader wondering just what they have in their hands.
The Programme has its beginning in the ashes of World War II and extends to the modern day conflict in the Middle East. Exploiting old Nazi technology, both sides of the Cold War have had giants slumbering, in one form or another, waiting to take to the fields of war for their causes and countries. When the Soviet super-soldier wakes up, it seems that no one informed him heís already lost. The American one is a brain dead child of the 60s passing the time partying in the southwest.
The contradictions start early. The most obvious example is the smiling faces of anchorpersons as they discuss the slaughter of American troops. Even the most soulless journalist in real life has the good sense to at least pretend to be sad when this sort of news comes across his desk. Is this meant as a comment on media in the States? Is it supposed to be humor or satire? Is it serious? There really isnít any clue here as to which question might provide the right answer and that continues through the rest of the book. If itís meant to be funny, it doesnít go far enough and if it is meant to be serious, it goes too far.
The protagonists, Max, is the best example of this. Max canít remember his childhood, but seems to be little more than a boy even as heís pushing sixty. Somehow this bar owner and failed folk singer has gotten through the last several decades without picking up on some very basic human knowledge and seems to be stunned when his doctor clues him in. His much younger girlfriend either has a horribly sense of humor or is a vapid bitch of a woman, and Max seems clueless as to which one it is. Actually, the word clueless is the biggest impression that Max made on myself as a reader.
The contradictions continue in the art. On one hand, the art is unique and interesting to look at. On the other, details can be extremely difficult to make out and the coloring doesnít always suit the mood. While there are a number of panels that are worth examining closely, there are times when the flow and action are easy to misplace.
The last line of the book is by far the best bit and leaves one wondering what will happen in the coming issues. Hopefully, The Programme will lean on way or another and become what its creators wanted it to be.
If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the authorís work at http://madbastard.hypersites.com
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