Category Archives: alberto ponticelli

Solicitation for Unknown Soldier #16 (Vertigo, 2010)

Another classic Vertigo title, probably the next best thing to The Walking Dead in my opinion;

Written by Joshua Dysart
Art by Alberto Ponticelli
Cover by Dave Johnson
Moses, descending deeper into the mystery of who murdered the IDP camp doctor, begins to stir the nest of hornets that is the criminal underworld of refugee camp life. He suspects everyone – and everyone suspects him. It’s nothing short of hard-boiled detective fiction, East African style.
On sale January 27 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS

Review – Unknown Soldier #12 (Vertigo, 2009)

The final episode of the ‘Easy Kill’ arc is as satisfying as the rest, with the cinematic tension built up in the last issue exploding into a bloody climax. I think that this issue is all about the art of Ponticelli, who stages the action with an experienced hand and knowing eye – Moses battles with the terrorist cell are thrilling, brutal set pieces, the hotel rooms and corridors becoming a frame for the bloody ballet as the protagonists race to get to the intended target – the American actress Margaret Wells. To give away more would ruin the surprises, but some characters show their allegiance to the Unknown Soldier as others appear to have walked away from him.

Dysart also delivers with the dialogue, as Wells vents her frustration at her role in life – and finds solace and support in her beliefs. The message is, doing something for justifiable and good reason is never not a good thing. It is a simple truism, and the delivery here is understated, but the point is clearly made.

It will be interesting to see where Dysart and Ponticelli take us from here – you get the feeling that by the end of this issue some of Moses relationships have altered forever – and there may be no positives to take from any of those changes. What is certain is this title continues to deliver. Still a highlight of any week, still one of the top titles around. How long before it gets picked up for the movie option?

Review – Unknown Soldier #10 (Vertigo, 2009)

Consider for a moment what you reasonably expect out of a comic book.

Personally, I look for a few things. I like to be entertained (obviously). I like to feel that I can connect to at least one of the characters in the book I am reading (in some, like The Walking Dead, I connect with many). I like to be suprised when I turn the page and I get something I was not expecting (but it has to be in a good way – Crossed can surprise me with its shocking violence but that doesn’t mean it is a good thing). I don’t want to be preached to. I don’t want to feel that I am getting ripped off with lazy artistry or poor storytelling.

There are many things I look for in a comic book. Unknown Soldier pretty much delivers on all those fronts. It is a brutal and compelling story, with very human characters in a dreadful situation that is, as far as I know, as accurate a portrayal of a real life event as we are likely to get in a comic book. Take the current arc, ‘Easy Kill’, which deals with the main protaganist, the titular ‘Unknown Soldier’, engaged in a mission to assassinate an American Actress / Humanitarian, whose death would enable blame to be pinned on the reprehensible Lords Resistance Army (LRA) – an army containing of ‘press-ganged’ children. How many comics would want to tackle such a controversial, literate and potentially damaging storyline? In other hands this could be a travesty. In the hands of Dysart and Ponticelli, it is absolutley compelling, as gripping as a good movie.

Look at these panels from the latest issue – the detail of the physical portrayal of a man planting land mines is subtle and powerful. As a reader, I can understand that this man is engaged in an act of planting landmines. I understand the significance of the act. With these panels, we witness the preparations for murder. What follows next is astonishing, agonising and brilliant.

This comic book constantly asks the questions that you might ask if you had thought about a particular issue or problem for long enough. It does it in a solid, intelligent and thrilling way. Every issue is not long enough, yet at the same time there is more in one issue of Unknown Soldier than in the majority of other titles in any week of the year. Its qualities are numerous, its faults…well, I haven’t found any. I cannot praise it high enough. Get the first trade ‘Haunted House’ if you don’t believe me. It is out in Spetember.

Finally, a quick word on the cover art, from Dave Johnson. If the cover is the front door of the house (so to speak), then you get the impression that this house is a very nice house indeed. If that doesn’t make sense, then let me just say that I thought the Soviet-era inspired cover, all righteous worker imagery, with that overcurrent of violence, does the contents of this book justice. That is high praise, considering the quality within.

Review – Unknown Soldier #9 (Vertigo, 2009)

Unknown Soldier 9 cover

This issue is mainly about Jack Lee Howl, the CIA operative ‘lost’ in Africa, both physically and spiritually, and up to his aging neck in trouble, mired in bluff, double-cross and more bluff. Caught up in an intrigue with militants trying to highlight the plight of Sudan, he becomes a pawn in a plan to kill a high profile American actress. Howl is offered the chance to find the Unknown Soldier, who the militants aim to convince to help them in their cause.

The art and story are, yet again, wonderful in a brutal and uncompromising way – if that sounds like a bizarre thing to say, then let me explain. The Unknown Soldier does not attempt to hide the truths of armed struggle in Africa. For example, it highlights the use of child soldiers. Does this title shy away from showing those children being slaughtered? No. Does it shy away from the protagonist killing these child soldiers? No. what it does do, is portray these terrible things in a graceful and intelligent manner. There is no treacly sentiment, or bludgeoning home a particular agenda. It shows things as they are, in a compelling and articulate way.

This is why The Unknown Soldier is such an important title of this medium. Graphically compelling, with a rich context to explore and gripping story lines. It demands your attention.

Unknown Soldier (Vertigo) (2008 onwards )

Another bold and brilliant title from DC Vertigo

To some, portraying the grim reality and horrors of war in a comic book may seem glib or trivialising the subject. Joshua Dysart, in his powerful new title ‘Unknown Soldier’, is addressing the dreadful situation in parts of Africa where children are expendable, used as soldiers in civil wars and cross border disputes. The setting is Northern Uganda, in 2002, when the Ugandans People’s Defence Force has just executed Operation Iron Fist against the LRA.

The central character in ‘Unknown Soldier’ is Dr. Moses “Patrick” Lwanga, pacifist, medical doctor and a philanthropist, who travels back to Africa and encounters the horrors of war. It essentially deals with the exploitation of innocents in war and is fantastic. It does not draw away from the terrible and the bloody and does not hide from the truth. It is both a thrilling adventure and a potent political scream of anger. The writing is accessible, resolutely angry at this situation while maintaining a tight and focussed script. The art, by Alberto Ponticelli recalls the style of Eduardo Rissos work on 100 Bullets, as it captures the stark reality of war and death and the heat and dust of Africa. It is surely destined to be looked back on as a classic title, worthy of mention alongside other great Vertigo titles (The Invisibles, 100 Bullets etc.

You can get a preview of the first issue here.

Issue #5 is due to ship today, February 25th, 2009. – This is a companion site to the comic and is filled with extras and fascinating detail, and as such is highly recommended. – Writer Joshua Dysart talks about ‘Unknown Soldier’ – CBR article on the launch of ‘Unknown Soldier’