Apr 27, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 428: Weird War Tales #85, March 1980 (War Week, Day 1)


From Love to War - it's not always a long way to go.

This week I'll be looking at another of the minor genres in my collection, the war comic. I've always been disinclined to read war comics as I find the idea of recollecting in fiction the horror such occurrences wreak to be a bit repugnant. I've always felt the same about fictions about organized crime - hence my never having watched The Sopranos (I know, I know, it's soooo good).

But moving out of one's comfort zone is important, so here we are. And I'm easing myself into it gently with a bit of science-fiction-y strangeness from the pen of J.M. DeMatteis. DeMatteis wrote one of the few graphic novels I was able to put on my candidacy exam, the absolutely wonderful Brooklyn Dreams, and though he's not a writer I follow by any means, every time I read a comic he's written, I'm impressed. And he writes in so many genres with such ease. I often make note that I should make a concerted effort to read more of his runs on comics, but there's only so much time in a day, and that note has yet to be prioritized.

This comic is weird, is full of blatant criticism of American Imperialism, and moves along like the best of the Twilight Zone episodes that it resembles. I have to say, on the side of the art in the comic, there's some really dodgy caricatures of Japanese soldiers by artist Tenny Hanson. I was shocked to see such things in a comic from a more "enlightened" time, and the optimist in me noted that the Americans in the comic are also highly stylized and caricatured. If that's intentional, it goes some way to assuaging the treatment of the Japanese in the comic, but not far. When at artistic form has such a long history of utter mean-spiritedness, I think it's best to lay to rest and leave it at rest, rather than resurrecting it as this comic does.

I'm going to stick with my optimistic reading.

One of my favourite things about this comic is that it's got a very carefully hand-written name above the title on my copy. I kind of love this, that "Darryl Hogenoon" felt so strongly about this comic that he had to make sure people knew it was his. Darryl, if you're out there and ever read this, know that the comic has found its way into a collection where it will be loved for as long as I'm able.

So, more War comics tomorrow. I'm not sure this is a great genre to be reading while I'm marking undergraduate exams and looking for a job. Then again, maybe it is. Onward.

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