Review: 20th Century Men #1
I’m a sucker for alternate takes on history. Often, these stories take one vital event and sends reality in a new direction from there. They examine why these events are important and the societal and political realities surrounding those moments. 20th Century Men #1 does exactly this. While the story build through the decades before, it mainly focuses on the late 80s where the USSR’s battle in Afghanistan goes in a very different direction from reality.
Written by Deniz Camp, 20th Century Men #1 is an interesting debut. While it does a good job of laying things out, the comic is very focused on Afghanistan in the 1980s. Unless you know that history, much of the comic’s potential is lost on the reader. For those that don’t know, Russian forces invaded the country which became their own “Vietnam” dragging down the army and turning into a quagmire. The US had something to do with that as our clandestine operations trained the soldiers. Those soldiers would later turn that training back upon us attacked the United States multiple times in terrorist attacks. That eventually lead the United States to invade the nation and itself be dragged into a war there was little way to win much like the Russians decades before.
But in this world, things are going differently. The Soviet’s are lead by an “iron” hero who has things much more under control as far as the Afghanistan operations. The United States president is a superpowered individual and the country is looking to climb and lead again. Then there’s an Afghan woman who is looking to build a better life for her people. The comic mixes history, politics, and comic mythology to create an alternate history that has a lot of potential for where it could go.
The art by S. Moran is interesting. There’s some highly disturbing imagery and more that’ll leave you scratching your head. It’s all very good with a world that looks familiar and at times designs that look like they’re out of science fiction. The world looks lived in and all the details given thought. It’s all interesting, especially the Soviet designs which have the expected cold aspect about them missing a smooth flow we might see with other nations. There’s a utilitarian aspect to the comic that works so well.
20th Century Men #1 stands out due to those details. From the characters’ actions to what is said, everything feels carefully thought through. It’s one for poli-sci nerds that like a “what if” world. There’s a lot to mull over and chew on after reading the comic and maybe I’ll get through it by the time the second issue drops.
Story: Deniz Camp Art: S. Moran Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review