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)
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.
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/05/top-comic-title-this-week-29042009.html Review Unknown Soldier #7
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/05/review-unknown-soldier-8-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #8
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/06/review-unknown-soldier-9-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #9
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/07/review-unknown-soldier-10-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #10
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/08/review-unknown-soldier-11-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #11
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/10/review-unknown-soldier-12-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #12
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/10/review-unknown-soldier-13-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #13
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/11/review-unknown-soldier-14-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #14
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/12/review-unknown-soldier-15-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #15
Issue 7 of the Dysart / Ponticelli thriller ‘Unknown Soldier’ is a ‘jumping on’ issue, with a new arc beginning next month. Intended as a break point to get new readers on board, this works toward that purpose while entertaining those that regularly read it. New situations, new characters but the quality, as ever, is very high indeed
After the glorious 6 issue initial arc of ‘Unknown Soldier’, it is with great pleasure that I read issue 7 and really felt the storyline opening up. I didn’t think that was possible, as the title already encompasses issues of War, Religion, Africa, the exploitation of children, Morality and the Western Worlds role in the third world.
With the introduction of new characters, a look at the north-south divide in Uganda (it exists)and touching on the importance of the spirit world, there is enough to be happy about. All that, and there is also time to look back at Moses troubled past and his vengeful, fearsome present. These sections allow us to look deeper at the character, understand his motivations. The art alludes to his almost supernatural power, the writing makes similar connections. This book has the quality, style and depth to be a classic – I have said it before, I say it again. Do not deny yourself the chance to experience a comic book that will educate and entertain, appall and horrify, enlighten and uplift. Vital stuff, this – as important and brilliant a comic book as you will get this year. It demands your attention.
Warning – Spoilers!
The balance of intrique and action is well maintained in another absorbing installment of Johsua Dyart’s African based adventure. We learn more about Moses’ past, some of which we only glimpse at, but what we see gives clues as to his mindset, and his ability to unleash ferocious but calculated violence and killing. He also encounters Agent Howl, and we go back to the early 1960s and see Howl as a young CIA operative in the thick of Western machinations in African politics.
There is a broad scope but Dysart stages all these elements in such a way that he manages to maintain an exciting and thoroughly readable issue, with a thrilling final few pages as the forces of the LRA close in on their target. Their target, however, is aware of their presence and is already fighting back….
If you have not read this title yet, I am sure that back issues can be found on ebay etc. Either that or wait for the trade paperback, but I urge you to invest some time in this fascinating and exciting title.
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.
http://www.unknownsoldiercomic.com/ – This is a companion site to the comic and is filled with extras and fascinating detail, and as such is highly recommended.
http://www.comicsbulletin.com/vertigo/121772268614990.htm – Writer Joshua Dysart talks about ‘Unknown Soldier’
http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=18519 – CBR article on the launch of ‘Unknown Soldier’