Advance Review: SHOOTERS




Written by Eric Trautmann & Brandon Jerwa
Art by Steve Leiber

$22.99 / 144 Pages / Black & White / Hardcover

DC Comics / Vertigo

Terry Glass went off to Iraq to fight a war. Men died. Mistakes were made. Then the war sent Terry on home. That’s not the end of the story. That’s not half the story.

Next week you’ll want to grab a copy of Shooters, an original graphic novel from Eric Trautmann, Brandon Jerwa and Steve Lieber. It’s a war comic with all the classic war comic trappings to be sure, a valuable new addition to a genre perfected by the likes of Joe Kubert, Alex Toth, and Jack Kirby. With great precision, Lieber renders detailed war machines and ground troops, then artfully reduces them to smoldering smithereens. But those spectacular explosions don’t just burst and fade on the battlefield. Strife follows our hero home, the fog of war amassing like a thunder cloud over Terry’s transition to civilian life. Shooters is more than just a thrilling saga of modern warfare. It’s a complete and uncompromising depiction of what it means to be a modern warrior, within and without the tide of battle.

A word on the cover. Terry does have a wife and daughter, and his preoccupation with that time in service and the friends he lost in a far-off desert does ultimately result in a tectonic shift. But this story is more nuanced than the image of a torn photograph might suggest. If you’re envisioning a Hallmark original movie, rest assured; when Terry sobs in the shower, that moment is fully and wholly earned. Though he suffers survivor’s guilt and a kind of PTSD, this soldier’s internal monologue is so honest, so lucid, this tragedy could never be mistaken for sentimental melodrama. What remains is a deeply affecting portrait, so grounded in candor, that it haunts well beyond its page count. It’s an experience only rivaled by the most forthcoming of personal memoirs. Knowing that this is not based on the first person experience of any member of the creative team makes it all the more impressive a testament. Though loosely based on the experiences of Trautmann’s late brother-in-law and meticulously researched besides, Terry’s story is largely a work of fiction. It is not every soldier’s story, but the obstacles that rise up along Terry’s path to resolution will surely strike a chord with many in pr out of active duty as well as those who have stood by to listen.

"At the time, all I knew is that we were dying."

When a warrior’s work is done, if it is every truly done, what are these implements of killing meant to do in peacetime? Or, more realistically, what are they meant to do in a time of war when they’ve been removed from play? Terry is wounded in a botched mission and sent home with a medal and a few extra shadows. He has all of his limbs and in time, full control of them. But men and women and children are still dying well beyond his reach. Strangers in town call him a hero. But what about his squad? What about his friends? What about those shadows? What about that unfinished business? Our his wife and child enough to anchor him to his sleepy town, to cable TV, to walking around without a helmet? And is there something more to his drive to return to that desert and those sounds? As he reflects later, soldiers justify their propensity to kill on God and country and duty and money.

“It’s a lie of course. The truth is this: You fight because war is who you are.”

That’s a scary thought. That’s a dramatic thought. But it’s a very real thought that a very real soldier is left to ponder. If it’s something you’ve had to think about, this book might be a difficult meditation. It could also be rewarding. Solace in solidarity. This book began, in a form, as a novel. There are some remnants of that here, with an above average word count. It helps that Trautmann and Jerwa have such a subtle hand with prose styling, meaning the expression of the first person narration isn’t over-wrought. It’s not exactly clinical, but even the most emotional passages never blur purple. Lieber layouts and inks showcase an astounding range, transitioning masterfully between dense, tightly plotted depictions of military maneuvers to raw, almost impressionistic explosions, to cleaner, sparser domestic scenes. It’s a gorgeous black and white book with hand-lettering and even some typed excerpts from tactical transcripts.

We appreciate our soldiers and what they do so that we might rest easily. It’s only fair, only just, that we consider what might keep them up at night as a result. Here’s hoping not many of us ever have to feel that so intimately, but here’s promising we won’t forget, won’t take for granted, that there are those who have to. Who choose to. Who do.

Story: 5/ Art: 5/ Overall: 5

(Out of 5 Stars)

For more on Shooters, check out the Steel River Security website. Inspired by the organization Terry turns to in the latter portion of the graphic novel, SRS is a hub for all kinds of resources from character bios and desktop wallpapers to news and reviews.

And stay tuned on Monday for a Don’t Miss podcast with all three creators!


  1. I hadn’t heard of this before, but it sounds fantastic. Thanks for the review, Paul!

  2. This sounds like something I’d enjoy. Also, the woman on the cover kind of looks like Starbuck.

  3. Beautifully written review, Paul. I’ll be picking this up for sure.

  4. Been looking forward to this since I heard about it but was really hoping it wouldn’t disappoint. Really looking forward to it now!

  5. Gonna pick this up but this is going to make me cry, isn’t it? I can feel the tears welling up already.