Friday, 30 May 2014

The Unknown Soldier Beautiful World by Joshua Dysart

Bryansk, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

"Kalashnikov's still alive in here!"

I thought I would try something a little different today. As I was pulling review copies off the library shelf, I came across some graphic novels, and thought, why not? I remember the old Unknown Soldier comics from when I was a kid. I had a friend who collected mostly superhero comics. He had quite an impressive collection numbering in the thousands, and I'm sure, since he kept the comics in excellent condition, that they are worth a lot now. I, on the other hand, couldn't collect my thoughts let alone muster the discipline required to take up a hobby. However, the one comic that I did rush to buy was the Unknown Soldier. I'd just started collecting the title, had maybe four or five issues, when all of a sudden the comic was discontinued, ending my career as a comic book collector in the process.

Since that time there have been several reincarnations of the Unknown Soldier which has led to the development of the current incarnation, a black unknown soldier in Africa; arguably the scariest version, as the stark realism and violence might be a little too much for some to stomach. I personally find the Vertigo version a little disturbing. I guess that is how it should be, what with war being a pretty disturbing business and all.

This volume (4) begins in 1941 and with dialogue. There is a footnote explaining that what is said is a translation from the Russian. Personally, I understood that without needing to be told. On the first page we have some Russians loading onto a truck when suddenly some Germans in motorcycles attack and kill everyone except Kalashnikov. On page 2 Kalashnikov explains an idea for a new type of gun that will drive the Nazis back home. In 1947 it is tested.

From there the graphic novel follows the history of the AK-47. As we read, we know were this is all leading: a bloody history of humanity, and it's mighty gruesome reading and viewing.

I won't comment on the artwork as the purpose of this blog is to determine whether there's a hook or not based on the writing. I understand, however, that comics hook not only because of the writing in the opening. But I think the writing and the story line that opens this graphic novel is good enough to stand on its own, taking into consideration the medium in which its being told.

I also like the little history lesson attached. Learning while being entertained is an unequaled experience.

Verdict: Pass

Theodore Moracht

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