War is never short on metaphors for violence, especially in terms of being represented as something that is literally monstrous. John Arcudi and Valerio Giangiordano’s Two Moons #1 is very aware of this, but the monsters that populate their version of the American Civil War seem to have been called in to help carry some deeper metaphors into the story. Surprisingly enough, what makes it through is largely concerned with the violence that always seems to follow identity and assimilation.
Two Moons #1 introduces readers to Virgil Morris, born of the Pawnee Nation and originally given the name of Two Moons. Virgil is presented as an assimilated American, a man that left his roots behind only to see them come back to claim him. Virgil starts seeing monsters, spirits, and dead men who won’t stay quiet as he fights for the Union during the Civil War. The things he sees might be all in his head, but the comic is leaning hard on making them feel very real to him.
Arcudi and Giangiordano appear to be gearing up for a slow burn of a story centered on the resurgence of Virgil’s Pawnee heritage and how it intends to remind him of who he is and who he should be, that is if it’s proven that he can trust both the mystic aspects of his process and himself, for that matter.
Giangiordano illustrates the story’s version of America as a place that’s always thirsty for blood, a place that thrives in war. The characters are presented as forces of nature that, to an extent, make them look like walking manifestations of anger and violence. This extends to the overall setting of the story, which sticks mostly to the American wilderness. Locations come off as unwelcoming and uncooperative, as places eager to be turned into battlefields.
Two Moons #1’s script focuses on introducing Virgil’s struggle with his Pawnee identity to readers, but Arcudi also takes the opportunity to introduce another character that’s coming to terms with identity and what it means to be an outsider in America: Nurse Frances Shaw, an Irish immigrant.
Nurse Frances is forming her opinion on what America is and what it stands for during one of the most unstable and uncertain moments in its history. The soul of the nation was quite simply fractured. The idea that the Civil War was a bloody and merciless fight between brothers was something people were constantly reminded of.
Negotiating one’s identity in the midst of all this inviting chaos into one’s own sense of belonging. Arcudi’s script is approaching it in a smart and intriguing way. In addition, her inclusion in the story serves as a good counter balance to Virgil’s own journey.
And then there are the monsters and all the other things that roam the wild. Giangiordano imbues each creature design with a considerable amount of storytelling. There’s a lot one can learn about them just by scanning their bodies. On a side note, they also look like they could effectively work in a film adaptation of the comic through practical make-up effects. Their designs are nightmarish but strangely realistic. They’re instantly memorable.
Two Moons is a new series with a lot of promise. It’s in a position to offer an appropriately confrontational take on what makes an American and if it’s even possible to identify anyone as such. The art is exceptional and it takes command of the story in unexpected ways. The book welcomes questions, demands thought, and values different angles. Come ready into the story or it will sneak up on you with its dark intricacies.
Script: John Arcudi Art: Valerio Giangiordano Colors: Dave Stewart
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and dust off your old Civil War History books!
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review