Or – “At Least They’re Committed To Multiple Genres…”

Many people (including Major Spoilers’ own Stephen) have been voicing dissatisfaction with the proliferation of superhero titles on the stands, though it’s hardly a new issue.  I recall the same complaints abounding when I began reading comics back in the early 1980s, and I find it admirable that DC’s New 52 relaunches included a western, a couple of sorta-war titles as well as books aimed at younger readers.  Of course, one of those kinda sorta war titles went down with issue #8, but now we get to see what they’ve crafted to replace it…

G.I. COMBAT #1
Writer: J.T. Krul/Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Ariel Olivetti/Dan Panosian
Cover Artist(s): Brett Booth/Ariel Olivetti
Colorist: Rob Schwager
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in G.I. Combat:  DC Comics has a long tradition of war comics (Men Of War, the predecessor to this book, was a relaunch of All American Men Of War, which launched in 1956 or so) but the G.I. Combat series was actually originally launched by Quality Comics in the early 1950’s.  DC (or at least National Periodical Publications) acquired the rights to Quality’s books, they kept G.I.C. running, launching properties like The Haunted Tank, The Losers and The Mercenaries.  Also, I think there was something about a ninja…  Either way, it’s a new DC Universe, but some things never change.

THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT!

I hope Rodrigo is paying attention to the return of this particular franchise, as dinosaurs versus machine guns sounds like something at least adjacent to his wheelhouse.  We meet a young soldier, somewhere in the Sea of Japan, as he sends a video letter home to his wife and adorable daughter.  We meet his gung-ho partner, then are pretty much thrown full-on into battle between a helicopter and a pteranodon. (Or is it pteradactyl?  One or the other doesn’t exist anymore, like the Brontosaurus and planet Pluto, but I can’t remember which.)   Ariel Olivetti delivers some lovely art, albeit a bit computerized looking (several of the backgrounds look to be photographs digitally composited into the drawings) but the story and dialogue really never make it anywhere past serviceable.  Our soldier heroes make it to the ground in one piece, only to make like Turok and end up in an uncanny valley (not THAT Uncanny Valley) where dinosaurs, planes and vintage tanks fight what seems to be an endless time-twisted war of attrition.

THE OLD SWITCHEROO…

Of course, where the first half of the issue looks amazing and read just so-so, the second half quickly inverts the equation. With art that it equal parts scratchy and muddy, Dan Panosian’s visuals don’t do Unknown Soldier writing team of Palmiotti and Gray and favors.  They give us a nice thumbnail sketch of the origins of the new Unknown Soldier, a story that is only marred by the utter familiarity of it’s middle-east war-on-terror setting and the extremely recent Vertigo Unknown Soldier series.  P&G deliver some interesting dialogue, but ultimately the shopworn elements of plot and setting weight the whole thing down, and the issue ending revelation that the government is recruiting the Unknown Soldier for black ops work isn’t really all that much of a cliffhanger, given that it’s always been part of that character’s 45 year history.  Still, I found much entertainment in the thought that the artist from the first story and the writers of the second should get together, and they might have something going for them…

THE VERDICT: A MIXED BAG OF MAYHEM AND CARAMELS.

The uneven nature of this issue is a real deal-breaker for me, as I wasn’t particularly enamored with Men of War’s resurrection of Sgt. Rock and “Oooh!  Navy SEALS!” in the first place.  I kind of enjoy Ariel Olivetti’s work, but there’s a stiffness to it that is a little off-putting.  Still, the dinosaurs look great, and the unique color palette gives the “War That Time Forgot” story a nicely alien feel to it’s alien setting.  The flip-side comes with the Unknown Soldier’s far-too-familiar storytelling, which creates the unpleasant experience of having to choose the Lady or the Tiger in my comic book.  G.I. Combat #1 continues an old tradition of DC war comics, but doesn’t quite hit the mark with this one, delivering two fragmented tales that fail to gel in different ways, earning 2 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s not a BAD start, just a halting one, and I hope that these non-superhero properties don’t just fade away due to their lack of capes and tights…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

TRAILER: The Expendables 2

Next post

Major Spoilers Podcast #407: Free Comic Book Day

5 Comments

  1. Oldcomicfan
    May 5, 2012 at 7:02 am — Reply

    DC’s war comics have always been part of their third string line-up, the sort of comic we bought as kids only when we’d already read all the other comics down at the corner drug store. They were especially pointless during the Comics Code era since the code forbid violence and killing. What was the point of war stories if you knew the heroes were always going to survive? And to be quite frank, war stories were done to death in the 50s and 60s in movies and television. Like westerns, that particular dead horse has been flogged so often there’s no meat left on the bones. Every now and then something exceptional comes along like “Gettysburg” or “Saving Private Ryan” but for the most part the genre is dead. Attempting to revive it again by adding dinosaurs to the mix smacks of desperation to me.

  2. May 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm — Reply

    The “addition of dinosaurs” is a revamp of a series from 1966…

    • ~wyntermute~
      May 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm — Reply

      There is a lot of irony in somebody complaining about how things today aren’t what they used to be, and then it is pointed out that they forgot how things actually were. Well done Mr. Matthew. ^_^

  3. May 6, 2012 at 8:37 am — Reply

    Pterodactyls and pteranodons are each a separate genus of the pterosaur order. They both still exist as scientific classifications.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pterosaur

  4. Damascus
    January 18, 2013 at 5:09 am — Reply

    I read issue #2 a minute ago and the last page which showed a group of five teenagers that were abducted from the U.S. as small children and were “re-educated” and were going to be planted back into the United States as a means of releasing a biological weapon if and when they’re told to had me thinking it’s a pretty unoriginal plot element. But that isn’t what actually got me, it’s just for some reason I thought they looked like they were modeled after a Power Rangers team. There’s an asian girl in a greenish-yellow top, a blonde white girl wearing pink, Jason Priestly wearing red, another asian looking boy wearing black and a white kid wearing green with blue.
    Don’t know why it struck me that way, but I guess any five person team with the appearance of a color code probably goes that way in my head automatically.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section