In honor of Marvel’s 80th Anniversary and history with War Comics comes a brand new edition of War is Hell with two fascinating and soul-crushing tales of War. “In the Mood” by Howard Chaykin takes you to the skies as the Luftwaffe and RAF battle over the English Channel for a battle tale of bitter irony and “War Glammer” by Phillip Kennedy Johnson brings you back to Earth in modern day Afghanistan with a story that will chill you to the bone.
War Is Hell #1 is a comic of two stories – quite literally. Paying homage to the publisher’s roots, we get two separate and distinct stories decry the horrors of war. The second is far more brutal than the first, and is set up as a narration over imagery as a group of US soldier embark on a raid in Afghanistan. The story, War Glammer is written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and features art by Alberto Alburquerque with colours by Andres Mossa. It’s easily the darker of the two in terms of subject matter and the visuals used – which are really quite solid – and doesn’t try to gloss over the soldier’s experience.
Look, I need to be utterly clear here: I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the armed forces. I genuinely don’t know what war is like beyond news reports and stories online, so while this story fills my impression of war, my impression could be very, very wrong.
That said, War Glammer is a good story, fully contained with a powerful impact on the reader (especially upon the second read through).
Howard Chaykin’s story, In The Mood takes place over several years in the Second World War and follows a German fighter pilot who disagrees with the Nazi philosophy, but takes pride in serving his country (“Germany, not Nazi-Germany”) well. This short story feels very much like the older stories that this book is paying homage too, both in setting and the content of the story. In The Mood is much lighter than the follow up, again both visually and in subject matter, but leaves no less an impact upon the reader as the story reminds us that our actions have consequences.
War Is Hell #1 is a really interesting comic, and the dual story nature of it forces both writers to trim the chaff – neither is forced to extend their stories to fill the space within, and the comic is stronger for it. If you’re interested in a couple of really good short stories, then this is worth picking up; I was going to recommend this when I assumed it was $6, but after a quick fact check, it’s only $4.
Story: Howard Chaykin and Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Howard Chaykin and Alberto Alburquerque
Colourist: Edgar Delgardo and Andres Mossa Letterer: Ken Bruzenak Story: 7.9 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read.
Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.