REVIEW: G.I. Combat #0

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The zero issue month for DC’s New 52 has begun! Major Spoilers takes a look at G.I. Combat to see if it has what it takes to survive.

G.I. COMBAT #0
Writer: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, J.T. Krul
Artists: Staz Johnson, Ariel Olivetti
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Rob Schwager
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in G.I. Combat: A couple of soldiers fought some dinosaurs in The War That Time Forgot and in The Unknown Soldier the title character stopped a terrorist threat and his origin starts to be revealed. (At least that’s what the Internet told me).

Stuck In The Middle

I should start this review by stating that I’ve never read an issue of G.I. Combat before this one. I like the character of the Unknown Soldier (mainly because he looks cool) and the only exposure I’ve had was through the Vertigo series from a few years ago. So when I saw that the zero issue of G.I. Combat would be focusing on him and possibly his origins, I figured it would be a great jumping on point. Not quite so, it turns out.

There are two stories in this issue, “The Unknown Soldier” and “The War That Time Forgot.” In “The Unknown Soldier”, we learn that there has been an Unknown Soldier in every war, each coming back from death to fight on in their battles. In “The War That Time Forgot” we get to see a soldier fight a giant dinosaur while remembering his past life. I enjoyed both these stories, especially “The Unknown Soldier”. The idea that there has always been an Unknown Soldier was a clever one and seeing a Viking version of the character was fun. Each soldier has come back from near death and I can only guess that the spirit of the Unknown Soldier is passed on through the generations. This is something that I imagine Palmiotti and Gray will explore in further issues. “The War That Time Forgot” is a simpler story involving an unnamed protagonist fighting a dinosaur and a saber-tooth tiger while realizing that this is his new life. J.T. Krul writes an entertaining story (how could it not be, it has dinosaurs), but not knowing who the main character is and how he came to be in a land filled with dinosaurs left me confused. It’s all action with little meat left on the bone. Both these stories seem to begin in the middle of a larger narrative leaving new readers out in the cold.

And that’s ultimately where this issue fails. It’s my understanding (and I could be wrong) that these zero issues were supposed to be good jumping on points for new readers, providing stories that happened before their first issues or getting the reader up to speed on the events taking place. I had almost no idea what was going on in both stories and felt lost. “The Unknown Soldier” was the best because it started to reveal the mystery behind the title character. With no recap most new readers will feel frustrated and might not return next issue.

Drawn And Painted

Both artists do a good job in their stories, each with a totally different style from one another. Staz Johnson draws his characters very loosely, almost sketch-like, which provides an appropriately dirty look and feel to the story. The designs for each Unknown Soldier throughout time were handled well, though admittedly the gladiator soldier looked a little silly with bandages on his face and cloth shorts. It’s not great art, but it gets the job done and suits the story well.

Olivetti on the other hand is outstanding as usual. Each panel, while digitally manipulated, looks painted. The action is presented clearly, colors are bright, and each drawing is clean. He’s always good at drawing muscled heroes fighting and this story lets him do just that but with dinosaurs. Besides being awesome, the dinosaurs each look different and unique. Olivetti almost doesn’t have enough to draw though, with the story being so short and thin on plot. Still, good stuff all around.

BOTTOM LINE: I Don’t Know That I’ll Return

I feel that this issued failed to do what it set out to do, which is make me want to come back for more. The need for the zero numbering was overall pointless and only put there to fit with the company wide event for the month. We’re dropped in the middle of two tales that, while well written and enjoyable, leave a new reader confused. Both teams on art do a good job and earn the book a slightly higher rating. At $3.99 you’re getting a little more bang for your buck, and while I liked what I read, I don’t know that I’ll return for more war adventures. G.I. Combat #0 gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆