Okay, so maybe I was wrong. While I liked Men of War #1, I lamented the necessity for its ties to the DC Universe, but in Issue #2 it has become enough of a plot point to justify the setup. While I wished that it had been a more straightforward war comic, the introduction of the mysterious Circe and metahuman influence is a solid counter-balance to the unavoidable grittiness that a book with this subject matter would have.
We last left Joseph Rock promoted due to devastation: the badass Sgt. Torisi was killed in an attack and his unit was scrambled. While a lot of writers do well with the “wake-up” page of the next issue, Ivan Brandon takes this one a step further — we find Rock literally higher than he’s ever been in his life. It’s the kind of shock that works because of the material: I know I wanted to see why the hell Frank Rock’s nephew was floating. Brandon keeps the pacing and cross-cutting moving steadily, aided by Tom Derenick’s sharp and impressive pencils. The book gives us a bit more backstory on Joe Rock, and his flashblacks are smartly done in mostly one panel. They provide enough information to process without dragging the story down with non-immediate exposition.
Brandon really gets to flex his sensibility for team writing in this issue — we learn and see more of Rock’s platoon. While they’re no Easy Company yet, they’re all intriguing and loyal and worthy of a look. I do hope that future issues will embrace the Our Army At War approach and have them be more upfront and integral to the story. Brandon also finds an interesting balance out of an old cliche — Rock’s platoon is held under fire by a sniper, and we see this in contrast to the detached, almost ethereal Rock of the bookended segments. There’s even a set-up for the next issue that has me legitimately wondering what will happen next.
Sadly, I can’t say the same for the Navy SEALs back-up story. Phil Winslade’s art is gorgeous and adept at capturing details, but Jonathan Vankin’s dialogue just feels carbon-copied, like a rote knock-off of Generation Kill. The second installment finds our platoon discovering that they’ve been under observation by an enemy this whole time, but there’s no indication as to any real danger or sense of feeling for these characters. I can barely remember their names from the previous issue and can’t be arsed to look up the ones I don’t. In the cliffhanger, we see a med helicopter come in and on the previous page it was mentioned the tangos have RPGs — I’m not going to spell it out for you.
Far be it from me to dismiss additional content, but considering that Men of War is a $3.99 title, it could benefit more from being clipped or giving Brandon and Derenick the extra pages to move their larger story along.
Rafael Gaitan was born in 1985, but he belongs to the ’70s. He is a big fan of onomatopoeia, being profane and spelling words right on the first try. Rafael has a hilariously infrequent blog and writes love letters to inanimate objects as well as tweets of whiskey and the mysteries of the heart at @bearsurprise. He ain’t got time to bleed.