War has had the effect of turning the most saintly, and honorable men into monsters. In a isolated Fire Base in a remote region of Afghanistan, a group of United States Marines are finding out that the irate villagers, and Taliban are the least of their worries.

HEADS UP! This comic doesn’t come out until June 16th, 2011. SPOILERS ahead!

Graveyard of Empires #1
Writer: Mark Sable
Art and Cover: Paul Azaceta
Publisher: Image Comics
Story Pages: 32
Cover Price: $3.99 USD

Previously, in Graveyard of Empires: Not a single thing, this is the first issue.

OVERWATCH, WE’RE OSCAR MIKE

Surrounded by Afghan villagers that want nothing more than for these Infidels to be gone, by any means necessary, a squad of United States Marines are isolated, with weeks stretching between resupply choppers, and morale plummeting like a Forty Mike-Mike shell. Their only ways home are rotating out, a Cas-Evac, or in a body bag. Can these divisive men hold it together when the Taliban they have laid to rest, rise from their graves?

Mark Sable was able to give each soldier in the unit his own unique, and realistic personality that resonated with me. These men had to adapt to the harsh environment they are in, making them brutal, and some would say evil, but human none the less. Great characters abound throughout, even the questionable villagers that would like to see these Marines dead are compelling, and are given reasoning behind what they do. They are not painted as evil mustachio twirling villains, they are real people from a conflicting culture that is not understood, and only care to be not meddled with.

R.O.E. (RULES OF ENTERTAINMENT)

The artwork of Paul Azaceta is a acquired taste, but his dark, and moody illustrations make this story work. He gives this world a brutal edge that rings true the horrors of war, and doesn’t flinch when bringing to life the most gruesome of details. Whether it be rough housing Marines in their ragtag barracks, or the exposed innards of a villager turned into a walking I.E.D., all is precise, and engaging.

The visual pacing, and character designs that lie within are pretty much breathtaking, and is probably the best example of Azaceta’s artistic nuances I have seen out of all his comic book outings so far. There is beau-coup action over the thirty-two story pages of this comic, from tense sporadic firefights that break out, to Cobra Attack Helicopters strafing a Taliban mortar team, you can find a little bit of everything here.

But it all boils down to the quite moments. Where a hardened killer can play with his puppy, and make you forget him threatening to blow his fellow grunts head off in order to get a harder Devil Dog to rotate in. The contrast may be jarring to some, but for others who have seen the mini-series “Generation Kill”, or the movie “The Hurt Locker” it will be familiar ground.

FINAL VERDICT: FUBAR

I went into this comic not reading a single promo piece. What attracted me to it was the cover, very striking, and teased me with a the possibility of a war comic, a type of comic I rarely see. So I read it with great fervor. The tapestry of some isolated mountainside in war torn Afghanistan, surrounded by Poppy growing villagers, and Taliban that want nothing more than to see the American Infidels driven from their land as the Russians were before them. Great stuff, promising stuff really, but then, the other shoe dropped…

As I said I didn’t know anything about this comic until I read it, but if I had prior knowledge, or glanced at the promo materials here at Major Spoilers, I wouldn’t have been blindsided when it went from a stunning war comic, to a tale of zombie survival within a war setting. Yeah, this is the third zombie comic from Image, and their second Zombie/War Comic, the other being “‘68”, and that, in my opinion, is a shame.

I felt cheated. I thought I was going to get a fictionalized tale of the American war in Afghanistan, where these isolated Marines would have to stave off Taliban attacks, as well as their own seething hatred for each other. But with the zombie twist, it seems the meaty characterization that has been developed will only end up in the mouths of these undead and eventually digested.

Had this been a straight up war story that and ended any other way than with the dead rising, it would have gotten a easy 5 Stars, out of 5. But since it had what I’d like to think of as a Shyamalan-esque twist, it soured my excitement that had built up over this first issue. There doesn’t need to be another zombie comic out there.

This comic is a solid war story, but that is cheapened with the shambling reanimated corpses that have permeated our varying fields of entertainment. From cable TV shows, to DLC for “Call of Duty”, you just can’t seem to escape the reach of the zombie, and that is too damn bad.
Graveyard of Empires #1 receives 2.5 Stars, our of 5.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Author

Larry King

Larry King

It is hard being a King, especially when your first name is Larry. Well, not really. In Larry’s Kingdom the re-imagining “Battlestar Galactica” is superior, “The Wire” is the greatest crime show ever, and “ROM, Spaceknight” is the hero of the realm.

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1 Comment

  1. Antonio Rocha
    May 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm — Reply

    A war comic would be nice, you don’t see much of that type nowadays. Zombies, no thanks! A shame indeed.

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