Men of War #5A comic review article by: Michael Deeley
As a member of the military, I was curious to see a modern war comic. The first issue impressed me with its natural use of technical jargon and non-traditional attitudes. The action has been consistently exciting and intense. Much of that is credited to Tom Derenick. His gritty style conveys the rough edges and physicality of violence. The book's been great to look at.
It's the writing that's gotten weaker. The story in the first two issues ended too quickly with too many questions. Now we have a new story involving a soldier with secret superpowers and a team of mercenaries supposedly composed of near-immortal warriors.
No explanation for who these new villains are or what they're doing here. I know this is their first appearance, but some names would be nice. And that super-soldier I mentioned? Doesn't use his powers again this issue. Seems that would come in handy when you're captured and threatened with death!
I'm beginning to doubt Ivan Brandon's abilities as a writer. Even though this is the same team of soldiers we've followed for the last four issues, we still don't know anything about them: who they are, their personalities, or anything from their background. We don't even know all their names! That's what made the original Sgt. Rock stories so memorable; you got to know the soldiers as people, not just characters to move the story forward.
I'd give this comic a lower rating if it wasn't for the back-up story. Matt Kindt writes a tale of two fighters, one male one female, and how they see their fight as a romantic metaphor. Patrick Scherberger and Dan Green do a great job illustrating their fight through the sewers, a ruined city, and a mansion. There's incredible detail, fluid movements, and passionate body language that emphasize the story. It's smart, complex, and even romantic. I like it better than the main story. In fact, I've liked the backups more than the Sgt. Rock stories from every issue. I am now reading this series just for the backups!
I'm disappointed in Men of War. Now is the perfect time to publish a war comic that's more complex than just "us vs. the enemy." Even depicting modern combat in a world of superhumans is a great premise, but Brandon's really dropping the ball. I've just learned he's leaving the series, and I'm not sorry to see him go. Hopefully his replacement will do a better job.
Michael Deeley is proudly serving in the US Air Force while inoculating his fellow airmen with his liberal views. He’s currently struggling to balance a life that includes family, career advancement, video games, and Mystery Science Theater 3000, in addition to comic books.