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.