Category Archives: joshua dysart

Solicitation for Unknown Soldier #23 (Vertigo, 2010)

In the hands of the men who created his fractured psyche, Moses is ready to assume his role as a super soldier in service of a shadowy government agency. But on one condition: Bring back ostracized CIA agent in exile Jack Lee Howl. Get ready for secrets revealed, mysteries unlocked and old warriors reunited.
On sale AUGUST 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS

Solicitation for Unknown Soldier #22 (Vertigo, 2010)

Wow. Best cover art yet for this series. Dave Johnson has produced something I would gladly hang on my wall.

On sale JULY 28
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
On the trail of Moses, his wife Sera, weary from the horror that has pervaded her life, stops to witness an Acholi wedding. Tradition and love beneath a sprawling blue sky… now she’ll have to convince herself to turn her back on a beautiful world and follow Moses into the darkness.

Trail of Death – the reality that lies beyond the ‘Unknown Soldier’

If you read this blog at all, then you may know that I think that Joshua Dysart’s Vertigo title ‘Unknown Soldier’ is an important, thrilling and vital comic book – and there are not many titles in that medium that can claim such entitlement. If you know anything about the comic, then you will know it is set in Uganda around 2002, and its main concern is detailing Dr. Moses Lwanga (aka the titular ‘Unknown Soldier’) and his encounters with the Lords Resistance Army. The comic is horrific and unsparing in its details of the tragedy of Uganda. What is happening now, with the LRA active in DR Congo, is astonishing – in the fact that the LRA seem able to operate at will to inflict death and misery, and astonishing in the fact that there seems to be no way of stopping this cycle of outrages. More information here;

Fresh evidence is uncovered by the BBC of recent atrocities carried out by the LRA

and the LRA respond to these allegations;

Trail of Death – LRA atrocities in Northeastern DR Congo (produced by Human Rights Watch)

Solicitation for Unknown Soldier #20 (Vertigo, 2010)

At issue 20 already, and getting better and better. An amazing success story. Plus, another wonderful Dave Johnson cover.

On sale MAY 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS
Barely clinging to sanity and hunted by Karamojong cattle raiders, Moses finds himself physically and psychologically under siege in a hidden village of the exiled and deformed – a village that may very well exist only in his mind.

Solicitation for Unknown Soldier #19 (Vertigo, 2010)

On sale APRIL 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS
A new storyline! Moses has a list. Throughout his murder investigation of the IDP camp’s doctor, he’s been deciding just who will live and who will die. Now, caught in an arms deal near the Sudan border, it’s time to start checking names. But this is one battle that’s not as simple as it seems.

Review – Unknown Soldier #16 (Vertigo, 2010)

Deservedly voted as best new series of 2009 by IGN, Unknown Soldier #16 is another faultless example of how to craft a gripping, intelligent comic book that does not rely on the familiar props and plots to pull in a crowd. This title treads its own distinctive path, and now, in its mid-teens, it makes me wonder how long it will be before some other titles will seek to emulate this critically acclaimed work.

We are now on part 2 of the current arc, ‘Dry Season’, which is, on one level, a murder mystery. The pacing of this whodunit, as our protagonist pieces together the evidence to try and find a murderer amongst a displaced, haunted and hunted tribe in a camp, protected by UDPF soldiers, is exquisite (by the end, you just want issue 17 to turn up at the door at that very instant)
. However, it is an exchange with the UDPF captain midway through this issue that provides the strongest scene – the rationale of child killing in a war torn region laid bare. Moses can barely suppress his rage.

There is much more going on in this issue – Moses shows the other side of his nature as he (by necessity) returns to his profession as a Doctor to try and help the sick in the camp. There is a long, hard look at death, disease and suffering – Ponticelli’s pencils never shying away from the reality of the horror of it all.

Joshua Dysart continues to script this story with an intensity, intelligence and fury that, for a first time reader, will astound you. 16 issues in, I can feel the intensity shimmer off the page. An absolutely essential comic book. An utterly compelling comic book.

The Top Comics of 2009 countdown! Number 2 – Unknown Soldier (Vertigo)

There is little doubt in my mind that this title will go down as an all time classic, and month by month its stature grows. Set in and around war-torn Uganda in the early 90s, the ‘Unknown Soldier’ of the title is Dr Moses Lwanga, a pacifist who, having seen so much horror, becomes quickly embroiled in conflict. The main arc this year, ‘Easy Kill’, had a controversial, contemporary storyline – the potential assassination of a Hollywood actress in Africa on a Goodwill visit – and a cinematic vision that delivered this tense, gripping tale. The writing and art are exemplary, and I have, on a few occasions, urged people to get into this comic book, as I believe most people who enjoy comics would get something out of this. It is a superior title, an intelligent, thought-provoking, challenging work. I will let the wonderful cover art and my reviews (linked at the bottom) of this years Unknown Soldiers do the rest. A highlight of the year and (no doubt) a highlight of next year. Review Unknown Soldier #7 Review Unknown Soldier #8 Review Unknown Soldier #9 Review Unknown Soldier #10 Review Unknown Soldier #11 Review Unknown Soldier #12
Review Unknown Soldier #13 Review Unknown Soldier #14
Review Unknown Soldier #15

Review – Unknown Soldier #15 (Vertigo, 2009)

The harsh reality of the camp is portrayed unflinchingly in this issue, where reality hits hard, but suspicion can be rooted in magic and witchcraft. Ponticellis art is exquisite – each panel is like a painting, each panel beautiful but that beauty never detracts from the powerful subject matter being displayed. Dysarts plot centres around missing medicinal supplies, a Doctor struggling to cope and suspicious of Moses and his new path of redemption, and the UPDF, trying to stem the tide of LRA attacks, but seen as little more than Mercenaries by some. And then there is Moses, struggling for a reason to justify staying in the camp – and then, right at the end, a reason turns up….

Plus! Jack Lee Howl makes an appearance, a real cherry on top kind of moment in another superb issue. When I read ‘Unknown Soldier’, it is so obvious that Dysart and Ponticelli do not ‘produce’ a ‘comic book’ tile – they pour energy, care, concern, vigour, love and anger into this important work. More and more vital as time passes, the passion and anger in this title rise and become more coherent as each month passes.

Solicitation for Unknown Soldier #18 (Vertigo, 2010)

On sale MARCH 31 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
With the doctor’s killer revealed, Moses is dragged deeper into his own psychosis than ever before, making it more and more difficult to keep it cool as he plots the violent takedown of every enemy he’s made while in the IDP camp.

Review – Unknown Soldier #14 (Vertigo, 2009)

Moses, aka The Unknown Soldier, returns his young charge, the liberated child soldier Paul, back to his family. Before he does that, in a stunning opening sequence, he must traverse deadly terrain and avoid hostile Fighter Aircraft to get Paul there. These scenes, played in deafening confusion and the horror of being within the grasp of death, are amazing – with full credit to the art of Pat Masioni, who conveys the sheer terror with maximum impact.

Once arrived safely, the elder of the village does not want Paul welcomed back, despite pleas from the boys extended family. This elder states that these ‘lost children’, these abandoned, brutalised victims of circumstance – these child soldiers – are ‘ a tribe of their own now’. It is only when Moses, in a stunning single panel, confronts the elder, literally burning wih a combustible mix of indignation and sheer desperation, that Pauls fate is decided.

That fate is this – Paul must break an egg, a symbolic breaking away from his past, a reassurance to the community that te evil of death and destruction that the child was witness and party to does not infect them. For Moses, his fate is more unclear. Paul wants his rescuer to stay with him, and the elder offers hope in the ritual of ‘mato oput’, the blood of the lamb mixed with the bitter root, to celebrate the passing of hate. A ceremony of forgiveness and peacemaking.

The elder, the lawi rwodi, sees the blood of many upon Moses, and the ‘mato oput’ is the only ceremony that will cleanse the ‘Unknown Soldier’, and exorcise the ghosts of these dead. Once it is done, Moses seems to undertake a redemption, symbolised beautifully as a barren tree laden with skulls giving way to the tree, free of its grim cargo, the skulls disapearing like blossom into the air.

Paul urges his protector to stay and help his people during the dry season – this coming season ‘is not good’, and Paul, who knows the value of having this resourceful man around, sees the Unknown Soldier as a great asset in troubled times ahead. Is this a further invitation for Moses to change his life? Away from the killing and destruction, it will be interesting to see how he adapts to this challenge.

As a bridge into the upcoming ‘dry season’ arc, it is a powerful reminder of why this series works so well. It is not just about the terrible conflicts in Africa, but also the power of man to change, sometimes for the better. A message of hope here, as well as an insight into a peoples culture and rituals. Another vital issue in a vital series.