Guerrillas #2A comic review article by: Dan Hill
Plot: Private Clayton finds himself stranded in the jungles of Vietnam with only a combat unit of trained Chimpanzees for company. Elsewhere a retrieval team is assembled to go into the jungle in search of a missing squad.
Comments: I think it goes without saying that the first issue of this book divided a lot of people. Some loved the initial set up and then called foul at the last page. But I think those of us who are returning to the title two months later did so out of curiosity and the question: Where do we go from here?
To answer literally, we go back. The opening of the issue takes place in Africa twelve hours previous to the first issues events. On the African Savannah we find Dr. Heisler (who has ex-Nazi written all over him). Then in a savage action sequence we see just how dangerous his simian creation is. As the book goes on it's shown that the military has tasked Dr. Heisler and a team of soldiers with the rescue of a small squad that they have lost contact with. Heisler's creation, glimpsed in the opening pages, is also along for the ride.
Another dividing factor on this book is the art. Some see it as too simplistic or lacking the color that most other releases enjoy. To me, though, this is one of its strengths and compliments the story perfectly. As it stands the story involves a seemingly trained military unit consisting of chimpanzees, yet at no point does it come off as camp, silly or cheesy. This is where the aforementioned art comes in. The rough lines, the black and white artwork both lend the story an air of grittiness and reality.
The same sense of credibility is also present in Brahm Revel's script. If Revel had gone for the cheap fix and played the chimp card right away all would have been lost. Instead Private Clayton's character and the hellish jungles of Vietnam were built up extremely well in the first issue and it helps lay the foundation that this issue (and presumably those that follow) stand on. This is the Vietnam we have read and heard about, but with super-intelligent soldier chimps.
Despite all the seriousness, though, Revel does find time to inject some humor into the proceedings. This comes about mostly in the scenes involving Clayton and his new found friends. Revel gives each of the Chimps a sense of individuality (including names). There's a two page sequence towards the end of the issue involving Clayton and a Chimp medic that is both hilarious and well realized.
By the end of the issue we seem to be heading into "Heart of Darkness" territory as Clayton tags along with the Chimps as they head deep into the jungle with the retrieval team sure to cross their paths sooner or later.
My only worry now for this series is how Revel is going to keep this story going for a further seven (double sized) issues. Curiosity, as I said, is what brought back a lot of people for this issue and I feel the same for the next. However, the next issue is a pivotal one. Here we will see whether Revel has a clear plan for all of this or will start to tread water. I, for one, will be back in two months to stand and gawp.
Final word: A solid issue, and a good mix of drama, action and humor. But how long can he keep it all going?