With DC’s new 52 comes a title that hasn’t been seen since 1978, and though I never read that 27 issue series I must say I’ve been very intrigued how this new one will be.
Men of War is actually contains two different stories in it, and I personally think the first story is far more gripping. It begins right in the middle of the action with Corporal Rock. All we know is he’s injured, confused, and slipping in and out of consciousness – which nicely is touched upon by having his inner monologue fade out at times so you can barely read a few letters. We soon leave the action to find Corporal Rock being questioned by Sergeant Torisi and a Lieutenant General. Both of them fill us in to Rock’s past; mainly he is from a military family and has disobeyed orders numerous times in the past which have actually helped his unit. The basic gist of it, he knows what needs to be done and doesn’t care about gaining rank and having real responsibility. A kind of man the Lt. General doesn’t like much, but one that Sgt. Torisi and someone even higher than the Lt. General apparently does.
From there we are moved into briefing in a transport plane with a basic mission led by Sgt Torisi with Rock as his second. The mission is to rescue a senator who went missing while trying not to be seen. Things soon go to hell as some super powered man leaving a streak of red moves in and starts laying waste to the town they were heading towards. This throws the team into chaos, especially as a purple streak begins fighting the red one who seems to have been trying to help Torisi’s crew, though Torisi at least seems to have known nothing about him.
Brandon does excellent writing in this story. We have a nice focus with Rock as the main character and it starts off right in the action. Even the few pages where we are getting some background on Rock is nicely done; nothing really seems irrelevant and the story flows nicely while keeping things unknown such as who exactly the red and purple streaks are. The art and coloring are also really nice. Both have a rather plain look to it, but it fits the story nicely and the coloring goes a long way to add to the military tones, actually. Ivan Brandon, Tom Derenick, and Matt Wilson do an amazing job with this. Writing on this with a military background myself – even if it was the Navy and not Army – I have to say it really seems both of them did their homework to make things seem real.
Now what will be a three part story is included in the end called “Navy Seals: Human Shields” written by Jonathan Vankin with Phil Winslade and Thomas Chu working on the art. When I had stated “Men of War” seemed like the art was rather plain, I meant it in a good way. The art and coloring on this story is very simplistic. It’s good and it works well enough, but it is by no means grand. It probably doesn’t help that it comes directly after the great visuals done by Derenick and Wilson for Men of War.
As the name of this story implies, we are following a small group of Navy Seals. Basically we start with two members chatting away in an ally waiting to target a bombing site, and are quickly joined by what apparently was the scouting team who were finding out just what building had to be marked. To cut this one short, a sniper engages them and two members break off to hunt down the sniper and come across a kid who was only meant as a distraction.
I’m just sad that Vankin’s writing here is pretty bad. He has a group of Navy Seals chatting away like they’re back home and not in the middle of a town that the United States isn’t even suppose to be operating in. Unlike Brandon’s writing, Vankin’s banter between the Seals just comes up short. It feels forced, and just about every military term (especially the phrase “HOOYAH”) he tosses in there feels to me like it’s out of placed. Bottom line: while Brandon’s writing flowed and felt like Brandon actually knew or studied military jargon, it just seems Vankin just did an internet search, grabbed a few words, and simply tried tossing them in wherever he could.