Pick of the Week
What did the
- Pick of the Week - 05.15.2013 - Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher #1
- Pick of the Week - 05.08.2013 - Thor: God of Thunder #8
- Pick of the Week - 05.01.2013 - Animal Man #20
- Pick of the Week - 04.24.2013 - Uncanny Avengers #7
- Pick of the Week - 04.17.2013 - Captain Marvel #12
Art by Goran Parlov
Cover by Dave Johnson
Size: 32 pages
“Last night, when it got bad… I mean when it really close-in and crazy… I’m pretty sure I shot one of our guys.”
“I’m pretty sure I did too. Sometimes it just gets like that.”
That exchange took place on page five, and that was where I knew it was my favorite comic book of the week. That’s not a huge surprise mind you, because the first 2 issues were also my favorite comics in their respective weeks as well, and I’d built up an unhealthy level of expectation for the third issue, which can often backfire. (Have you heard about this Prometheus motion picture?) And yet, in completing the first 3 issue story, the expectations were upheld and exceeded. We’ve all got our soft spots, and in comics, for me, Garth Ennis war stories are a big one. I can’t get enough, and that’s probably because Ennis has never once dropped the ball. Whether it’s working with Marvel(ish) characters, or his own made up characters, the man writes a good war yarn, over and over again.
In this story, we find ourselves in Southeast Asia before the Vietnam War properly kicks off. Over the last couple of issues, we’ve seen the situation at a French forward operating base deteriorate further and further, as at the beginning of this chapter, it looks like the storm has passed, except that it hasn’t. The idea is that these French colonialists and the Americans have no idea what they’re dealing with in terms of the opposition. The rules of real life and the idea of decency is thrown out the window when it comes to war. There are horrors out there, surpassing most of what we see in fiction, specifically because they’re real. This is highlighted a couple of times in the issue.
One of the very interesting aspects of the story is that an ex-Nazi officer is working with the French to train their soldiers. Fury’s young comrade is incensed by this, and in the last issue, the Nazi kicked the bejeezus out of him. A firefight followed and they fought alongside ex-SS. This issue opens with a simple conversation about how that’s OK, and how it works with what we accept. It’s fiction yes, and it’s even a Marvel comic book, but it’s also a fascinating discourse that must have happened somewhere. Not all the men who fought for the Germans were killed. They moved on to continue their lives, many having formerly been Nazis. Of course, that character does get his comeuppance, but it’s a strange mix of both a heroic and well deserved death. It seems so simple, but on reflection, Ennis has given us so much to think about in such a short period of time.
The second half of the issue is another thing entirely. Events transpire in such an unexpected and horrifying way that even Nick Fury himself is completely glazed over, and unable to react. He literally stands completely still as he watches Hell itself break out all around him. What he thought he knew and could handle were blown away by his reality, and he was stunned. Check out the cover to see how Dave Johnson managed to capture his shock. And when Nick Fury is shocked, that means something. It’s a major downer ending, concluding with Fury being released and walking away from the slaughter through a row of severed heads, and holding a broken gun. I had to go back over it a few times to understand exactly what was happening. It wasn’t that it wasn’t well told, but while it probably could have been clearer, it was beautifully subtle, and ultimately better. It was only after going back through that I realized Fury didn’t say a single word after the big attack started. It was masterful.
Goran Parlov succeeded at two specific things that made this issue work. He managed to sell the first half of the issue with wonderful acting and body language. It was chocked right full of talking and explanations, but Parlov captured the inherent defeat of the characters in their expressions and stooped shoulders and well chosen shots. Then, when things went badly, he captured the insanity and bedlam of war, with men dying savagely and explosions going off all around. It was all amped up in just the right amounts, owed a lot to classic war comics and cartoonists, but Joe Kubert couldn’t have drawn this any better. With Lee Loughridge providing the color palette, complimenting the art perfectly, this was as well produced as a comic book gets.
I already admitted my bias, but it’s safe to say that if this is the kind of thing you like, you’re going to really like this. If you’re reading Fury MAX, you’re likely thrilled with Fury MAX, and while I’m sure this will be a bit of an under-the-radar successful books, it’s great to see that Marvel is still giving Garth Ennis a stage where he can tell these kinds of stories, because he tells them better than anyone else in comics. If it sounds like your thing, do not miss out on this title, because it’s something special.